WOW Air Announces Huge Midwest Expansion

Yesterday Icelandair announced that they’ll be adding flights to Cleveland as of May 2018. As I mentioned in the post, Icelandair and WOW Air are both based in Iceland, and are competing fiercely to increase market share, which is great for consumers, since it means they’ve expanded to quite a few secondary markets that don’t otherwise get much transatlantic service.

Well, it looks like WOW Air wasn’t far behind Icelandair, as WOW Air has just announced huge expansion to the Midwest US. WOW Air will be launching 4x weekly flights to the following cities:

  • Detroit as of April 26, 2018
  • Cleveland as of May 4, 2018
  • Cincinnati as of May 10, 2018
  • St. Louis as of May 17, 2018

The speed of WOW Air’s growth in North America has been incredible. Their first US destination was Boston in March 2015, and since then they’ve added flights to BaltimoreLos Angeles, San Francisco, Newark, Miami, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. With these four new cities, their US city count will be up to 12.

Here’s what WOW Air’s CEO has to say about the expansion:

“WOW air is very excited to bring our flight services to four new Midwest destinations,” said Skúli Mogensen, CEO and Founder of WOW air. “We are proud of our growth over the last two years and will continue to work tirelessly to provide the lowest fares possible to each region of the U.S. Helping to make international travel truly a possibility for everyone.”

These new flights are already bookable directly on WOW Air’s website. WOW Air is known for their ultra low base fares, and they have fares starting at $99 one-way to Iceland, or $149 one-way to mainland Europe, based on a roundtrip purchase.

As I hinted at above, WOW Air isn’t just useful if your final destination is Iceland, but is also useful if you’re traveling to Western Europe. They offer connections to over a dozen destinations in Europe, so they’re a cheap way to fly from the US to Western Europe with a stop.

While that has the potential to be a great deal, keep in mind that WOW Air is as “no frills” as they get, as they charge for everything, including bags, seat assignments, food, etc. They even adjusted their carry-on policy earlier this year. So be sure you crunch the numbers before booking, so you can figure out if you’re actually getting a good deal. Nowadays transatlantic flights are often also inexpensive on “full service” airlines, so the savings might not be that big in all cases.

When WOW Air first launched US service a couple of years ago, Gaurav was kind enough to share his experience flying WOW Air between Boston and Iceland, and had positive things to say overall. If you come in with the right mindset, they’re a solid option.

Bottom line

WOW Air isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for low cost transatlantic travel and tend to travel light, it’s pretty unbeatable. Furthermore, being able to do a stopover in Iceland enroute to other points in Europe is a cool opportunity, given what a beautiful country it is. Just be sure you read everything there is to know about WOW AIr’s fees before booking, or you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Anyone excited about these new WOW Air routes to the Midwest?

Comments

  1. WOW Air is often half the price when flying from Toronto to Western Europe compared to AC, LH, BA, AF, etc. The free stopover in Iceland makes it even more appealing. Adding up the costs of carry-ons, checked baggage and meals still often makes it significantly cheaper than my usual flying of either AC or LH between YYZ and Europe. I think that these new flights, especially to Cleveland, St. Louis and Cincinnati, will be especially successful given the lack of direct transatlantic flights to these cities. I think it will be much more convenient to connect in KEF, compared to EWR, JFK, ORD, IAD, etc. that people living in those cities probably do now.

  2. I don’t understand why nobody ever flies to MSP.
    We are much larger than many cities on this list, and airfares are always sky high here.

    It’s really frustrating when I see awesome fare deals around the globe that are good from almost every city except MSP.

    Luckily Iceland Air does come here. Shocking really.

  3. @JRMW …thank delta! You are only experiencing what happens to every other delta hub. ATL is the busiest airport in the world and Delta has a death grip on it. If you fly out of ATL, you WILL be on DL and it’s going to cost you an arm and leg. Meanwhile, deals are happening all over the states. And you can’t get around it, bc even if I want to fly to cleveland from ATL to hop on WOW, I have to buy an expensive delta flight. Welcome to the monopoly.

  4. I could see these flights making sense from say April-October, primarily as a feeder for Americans in those cities to get to Europe. There are certainly enough people with enough income in those cities to make spring/summer/early fall trips to Europe. But I don’t see much reverse traffic, as I can’t see many Europeans wanting to vacation in any of those cities/areas. And I doubt there will be a lot of traffic going over to Europe in from November-March, as business travelers who normally fill seats at this time won’t be taking Wow. Any thoughts as to these flights being seasonal?

  5. @DCjoe Actually, Detroit is experiencing a huge influx of European tourism, coming for bicycle tours of the decaying areas, followed by craft cocktails and excellent cuisine at on trend, world class restaurants. It happened recently, but is happening fast. Thomas Lents just opened a restaurant, The Apparatus Room, at the hip and just-opened Foundation Hotel. 7 years ago I would not have guessed this rapid shift.

    Here’s to hoping this lowers DTW transatlantic fares a bit, although I have my doubts that Delta will compete with them. With ten daily nonstops to Europe in peak season, including one AF, they have little need to compete…which is a bummer for those in the area. And they are all routinely sold out.

  6. Finally St. Louis regains there international service besides Canada, Charter Mexico, and Caribbean cities!

  7. wanderingjos- as a Detroit area native (now economic migrant, as I call myself and friends who moved away), I am glad to hear of some interest in the area. But I am cautious in thinking about numbers of visitors- are you talking about a couple of groups of people a month doing these types of activities, or the 100 people a day it would take to fill up half and airplane? My gut is that the scale of the things you are talking about really isn’t there. But I don’t have the data to support that.

  8. Wow, KEF was already a zoo with standing room only last August. More flights are going to be a problem next summer.

  9. Interesting because in all of Kentucky (where CVG is located), Ohio and Indiana, there is currently only one direct flight to Europe – Delta’s flight from CVG to Paris.

    So people in these States will really appreciate not having to travel via ORD.

    Just wish that WOW had a premium cabin like Norwegian does

  10. @DCjoe

    You are right, I was making an anecdotal and observation-based suggestion, however, the market can certainly fill that aircraft with Detroit-based travelers alone–it won’t need huge amounts of European travelers to be successful. Keep in mind/don’t forget that DTW pulls from Detroit, Windsor, Flint, Ann Arbor and Toledo–which amounts to more than 6.5 million people. If they market well, so people know they exist, they will do well. (Besides, many people are used to Spirit so this won’t be such a change…) I, however, will stick with Delta and I can only hope that it might make for better fares, although I am not convinced of that outcome.

    As for the scale of redevelopment in Detroit these days, it is staggering. That notwithstanding, so too is the area still to be redeveloped. But Detroit can certainly hold its own and I suspect it will once again become a major American urban powerhouse: it’s affordable, there is plenty to do (and growing) and has good access to freshwater. 😉

  11. @AJR — Ultimate Air Shuttle just started flying from the ATL region to CLE, albeit through CVG. Their first time flyer promo is pretty reasonable.

  12. Hopefully, this will require Delta to drop its transatlantic airfares out of Michigan. We are screwed in Detroit due to a complete lack of competition on any flights to Europe. It’s often $500 cheaper to drive to Toronto or Chicago for an international flight.

  13. GL says:
    August 23, 2017 at 9:13 am
    Wondering how the US3 will respond.

    _______________________

    Sue, like they always do.

  14. We fly to Iceland every September for an annual business/fishing trip. I crunched the numbers as I had a choice of Icelandair and WOW out of O’Hare. WOW was a few dollars cheaper even when I added the cost of baggage (a lot of fishing equipment), seat assignments, etc. However it wasn’t enough of a savings to make me take a chance. We always have nice flights with Icelandair so, for $20 to $30 more per ticket I decided to stick with a known quantity.

  15. Lucky, quick reminder that “North America” also includes Canada and Mexico. WOW also already flies to YYZ and YUL. Love your blog!

  16. @Billy2011, I’m happy for St. Louis, too. Though I no longer live there, I have plenty of family there. When I moved there in 1991, TWA still existed and had daily nonstops to LHR and CDG. Then the effects of its 1988 takeover by Carl Icahn kicked in and TWA went belly up, taking St. Louis passengers with it.

  17. What a joke, by the time you add the carry one they cost the same as AA to get to any decent european destination.

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