WOW Air Has Quietly Adjusted Their Carry-On Allowance

Icelandic low cost carrier WOW Air is known for their cheap transatlantic fares and expensive fees.

While those fees can already be pretty tough to keep up with, it seems like they’ve quietly made changes to their carry-on policy, for tickets booked as of a couple of weeks ago. Forgetting about the policy for a moment, it’s unfortunate that they decided not to communicate this, and don’t even acknowledge the policy change on their website.

WOW-Air-A330

WOW Air’s new carry-on policy

The new policy is as follows:

  • Passengers are allowed to carry-on one small personal item for free, with dimensions not exceeding 17x13x10 inches (this is described as a purse, backpack, laptop, or camera bag)
  • Passengers can pay to take on an additional carry-on item, with dimensions not exceeding 22x18x10 inches

The cost for the additional carry-on item is as follows:

WOW-Air-Carry-On

WOW Air’s old carry-on policy

Looking at the Wayback Machine, WOW Air’s previous carry-on policy was as follows:

  • Passengers are allowed to bring one small carry-on for free, with dimensions not exceeding 17x13x10 inches OR guests can purchase an allowance for a larger carry-on of up to 22x18x10 inches and not weighing more than 26 pounds, though you’re still only allowed one carry-on total (meaning you’d essentially be paying to upgrade your carry-on, rather than get an additional carry-on).
  • Passengers can also bring on a personal item for free with dimensions not exceeding 17x8x8 inches

The cost for taking on a large carry-on was as follows:

WOW-Air

What changed about WOW Air’s carry-on policy?

This change is a bit confusing, and it’s not actually negative for everyone. Essentially passengers could previously carry-on two small personal items for free, and they’d have to pay if they wanted to bring a large carry-on.

With the new system, passengers have to pay if they want to bring on a large carry-on, though the price is the same as before. If they would have paid for it anyway, they come out ahead, as the second personal item can be larger (17x13x10 inches rather than 17x8x8 inches). Furthermore, it seems that they’ve eliminated the weight limit on carry-ons, which is good news.

However, if you relied on WOW Air’s free carry-on allowance you certainly come out behind, as you can’t carry-on as much for free.

If you booked your ticket before this change (which happened sometime in January), the old policy still applies.

My biggest issue here is that they’re not even acknowledging the change publicly, so we don’t even know on what dates the rules changed.

WOW Air is the second low cost carrier to adjust their carry-on policy in the past few days — Spirit Airlines had a similar policy change a few days ago.

(Tip of the hat to Travel Codex)

Comments

  1. I am curious – has anyone had experience traveling with WOW and a carry on? Did they actually police the policy?

  2. @John – Yes they do although i don’t think they do it down to the tape measure or anything. I have done a couple of weekend Europe trips with just the minimal carry on allowance. Plus once the bag is approved you can just keep the tag on it for future trips.

    @Lucky, don’t forget you are allowed to bring along a duty free bag which is a great opportunity to bring a few more things… just buy a Toblerone and ask for the biggest bag they have and then stuff it with several smaller items… also, when I flew last week I mysteriously had a free large carry on included in my boarding pass and that might have been due to the change in policy? No one said anything so I didn’t actually take advantage of the free large carry on for fear of it being a bug in the system.

  3. WOW. You should really check your facts before posting, especially when they are contradicted by your own links.

    First, WOW’s previous carry-on policy was not as you said, given the information in the Wayback Machine you provided (and my own personal experience flying WOW several times in the past few years). Passengers were allowed ONE carry-on (17x13x10 in.) and ONE personal item (17x8x8 in.) without additional charge, not TWO personal items. This is a very important distinction, because–per WOW–your personal item (purse, backpack, laptop, or camera bag) has to be able to fit under the seat in front of you.

    Second, given your faulty analysis of the previous carry-on policy, your statement that “Essentially passengers could previously carry-on two small personal items for free” is just plain wrong. Previously, you could bring a carry-on (I brought a small bag) and a personal item (I brought a backpack). I would not have been able to bring the small bag if the policy was two personal items, as the bag could not have possibly fit under the seat in front of me.

    Third, your conclusion that this is “not actually negative for everyone” is not really true. This is actually a negative for MOST people, as the new policy *eliminates* an included carry-on item that you could’ve stowed overhead. Anyone who paid for the large carry-on in the old system was able to get: 1 personal item and 1 large carry-on (22x18x10 in.). Now, that same person paying for the large carry-on gets… 1 personal item (slightly larger), and 1 large carry-on (22x18x10). Also, they increased the price they charge for a large carry-on. Although WOW increased the size of the personal item, **it still has to be able to fit under the seat in front of you**, creating an unstated physical limitation. So, those who previously paid for the large carry-on are barely, if at all, coming out ahead.

    I hope you’ll update this post to provide accurate information, especially since Travel Codex (who you h/t) basically got it right. Ultimately, though, I agree that the biggest issue is that WOW didn’t discuss the change publicly. I guess they just don’t believe in transfarency!

  4. I flew Wow out of the US in September with a small carryon (purse) and a duffel as my overhead bin carryon (the upgraded carryon). I paid for the duffel, as previous experience with Wow led me to believe I could only have the small item for free. The gate agent told me as long as my duffel fit in the bin, it was also free but they hadn’t updated their site. It weighed less than 26 pounds but it was bigger than the measurements on their site.

    Since I was traveling to Iceland and beyond, I’d paid 4 carryon fees I didn’t need. No refunds. I’d prepaid since it was cheaper to pay at booking than at the gate.

    My experience with Wow is they’ll check your luggage size and weight in the US but once you’re in Europe, they don’t even look to see what you have. I ended up expanding my duffel and it was much larger than the requirements (but still fit in the overhead) and no one gave it a glance.

  5. @RW Lucky has said nothing about two personal items. Agreed though that all this confusion around made up/fake charges is a bit unfortunate. I’d rather spend $60 on buy on board (which by the way, they always seem to have stock issues as many items seem to always be out of stock) than on luggage fees.

  6. @Karim J – He DID say two personal items, but he just now changed the word “personal item” to “carry-on” on this webpage, but didn’t change the rest of the sentence, so it still doesn’t make sense….

    @Lucky, please update your quote – “Passengers are allowed to bring one small carry-on for free, with dimensions not exceeding 17x13x10 inches (this is described as a purse, backpack, laptop, or camera bag)” … a carry-on item is not described as a purse, backpack, laptop, or camera bag; that’s a *personal item*.

    Also, he later said “Essentially passengers could previously carry-on two small personal items for free”, which I directly quoted earlier, and is still currently on the page.

    [It’s funny when a blogger changes errors without a h/t or acknowledgement, so your comments pointing out the errors don’t make sense to someone who reads the updated post.]

    Anyway, here’s hoping that the new WOW Plus bundle *might* be a competitive alternative to their basic fare, as they promise (“The convenient WOW Plus option is loaded with included add-ons at a better price. Fly in style and enjoy extra services such as a carry-on bag, a checked bag and cancellation protection. WOW Plus will always be cheaper than adding to the WOW Basic fare. That‘s guaranteed.” – wowair dot us / travel-info / fares).

  7. @RH didn’t know about their new fare options; looks interesting, although my sense is their pricing will be too high for my liking – none of these things are worth to me more than maybe $50 one way. As an economist might say, I’m kind of further down the demand curve. Sort of like a “Special offer: pay $499 for AAdvantage Gold” situation.

  8. I flew WOW and they enforced the WEIGHT, but not the SIZE of your bag. And they only checked it at the counter, not the gate, so honestly you could set some stuff off to the side (or with a friend traveling with you) while checking in, and add the stuff back to your bag later and they would never know.

  9. I booked my flight in December so in theory the old policy should apply, but will I have to argue this point at the gate when they try to make me pay? Does it
    say anywhere on the website that they will honor the old policy on tickets purchased before the change?

  10. Recently I have felt more and more airlines are minimizing the amount you can take on carry-on. I pr really can be annoying when they surprise you with the new policy at the airport just prior to a flight. anyone else feel this way?

  11. I have flown with WOW 2 times in 8 weeks as I now travel quite frequently to Frankfurt to look after an elderly parent the cost is hugely important.
    Both times I traveled with a small duffel bag that measured exactly 17x13x10, my first trip I over packed! My second trip I needed to pack for 13 days instead of 7. I managed but need to rethink my list. As I’m not packing for a Holiday at some exotic destination this was doable.
    Wow will ask you to place your “Personal Item” in the sizing bin, they did ask some people to do this at the boarding gate (probably because they checked in on line). I also have a small purse/pouch with my wallet, passport etc that I kept under my coat.
    If I was traveling with my husband on vacation I would definitely purchase one suitcase between us, the price of WOW tickets is really fantastic.
    Both my trips were booked 2 days before departure, Air Canada and all other major airlines quoted $1500-1700, WOW air was $650 return.
    The plane was extremely comfortable, I brought my own water (refillable bottle) and sandwiches from Tim’s. The WOW staff was terrific.
    Wish I could find a small case on wheels to meet the size as last trip took 18 hours door to door and even an 8KG bag is exhausting to carry.

  12. So I booked my flights before wow air made the change in on board bags, I was planning to take my rucksack which previously woukd have been free on board. Do I now have to pay these charges? I wouldn’t have booked with wow air if this was the rule when I booked in jaunary.. Very frustrating if I have to pay

  13. Hi, I’m about to fly on WOW for my first time and I’m a little apprehensive because I’ve read WOW’s baggage policies and several blogs like this one and I’m still confused. Partly because we purchased our trip BEFORE the policy change, so the policy on my confirmation email is different from what is online.

    I’m confused by the “You may bring ONE piece of hand luggage.” We’ve both paid for the larger carry-on. Could someone please answer for me: can I also take a messenger bag in addition to this? Or, is it one or the other?

    Also, my carry-on in 1.5 inches too long on one side including the wheels. Will this be an issue?

  14. I am flying WOW on Saturday, from Toronto to Stockholm. I purchased my tickets on Jan 19th, 2017 and it looks like the tickets still reference the OLD policy (where the included carry-on is the 42x32c25cm). I plan on taking a medium-sized backpack (for the overhead bin) and a purse (for under the seat).

    I’ve flown only once with WOW before (in Jan 2017) from Toronto to London. I found the policy confusing at the time as well, because when read, it doesn’t actually mention a personal item at all. Being cautious, I flew with only a carry-on bag (overhead bin) and no purse. Both friends I was traveling with showed up with both a carry-on bag as well as purses. They had no issues with the WOW staff. In fact, they didn’t even need to measure their carry-on bags (though the bags were not huge) and walked straight to the gate (online check-in). I was cursing myself for not bringing a purse but made do. On the flight home, I just brought my carry-on bag PLUS a canvas (shopping) bag to keep under the seat (for my wallet, some snacks, and a book). No issues with that either.

    So best bet is if you bought your ticket in January, just check the fine print and bring a copy to the airport if the staff tries to charge $$ you.

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