WOW Air’s New Delhi Flights Are Now On Sale — How Good Of A Deal Are They?

Several weeks ago, WOW Air’s CEO indicated that the airline was planning on announcing flights to Asia in May. The airline has historically offered service between the US and Europe via their hub in Reykjavik, and with this latest expansion they want to add up to 15 destinations in Asia, meaning it could become as big of a market for them as North America.

Then last week it became clear that Delhi would be WOW Air’s first city in Asia, based on the fact that they were planning on holding a press conference there.

That flight is now official. WOW Air will launch 3-5x weekly flights between Iceland and Delhi as of December 6, 2018, using A330-900neo aircraft.

The flight will operate with the following schedule:

WW322 Keflavik to Delhi departing 11:45AM arriving 3:15AM (+1 day)
WW323 Delhi to Keflavik departing 7:00AM arriving 1:20PM

https://twitter.com/wow_air/status/996314237067780096

On the plus side, the aircraft utilization is pretty good, as the plane is only on the ground in Delhi for a few hours. For some of WOW Air’s other longhaul destinations, they’ve had to keep the plane on the ground for nearly 20 hours, in order to optimize connection opportunities in Iceland.

At ~4,800 miles, this will be WOW Air’s longest route. The flight is blocked at 10hr eastbound and 11hr50min westbound.

I’ve been very curious to see how WOW Air’s fares would be between the US and India, given that they’re competing head-on with the Gulf and European carriers. In general, Indian consumers really like flying with the Gulf carriers, and in particular like the full service experience they offer. Meanwhile WOW Air is an ultra low cost carrier, so I’ve been wondering how they plan on pricing themselves to be able to compete.

WOW Air is offering introductory fares of $199 in each direction between many points in the US and Delhi. So the ticket is $398, though the catch is that this doesn’t include food, drinks, seat assignments, a carry-on, or a checked bag.

I doubt that many people are backpacking between India and the US with just a tiny bag, so for most people booking the “WOW Plus” fare makes the most sense (if paying individually, a carry-on alone would cost $220 for a roundtrip). That has an introductory fare of $630, and that includes a seat assignment, a carry-on, and a checked bag. It still doesn’t include any food or drinks.

This is about how I expected WOW Air to price, though I feel like they’re at the upper end of what they’ll realistically be able to price. Full service airlines are available for under $800 roundtrip, so WOW Air doesn’t have much of a price advantage here. They offer food, drinks, a better connection experience, and typically more spacious cabins with better entertainment.

The added challenge for WOW Air is that they have 350+ seats to fill per flight. This isn’t like some of their other routes with narrowbody Airbus aircraft, which have around 200 seats. Filling 350+ seats is much tougher.

So I’m skeptical. If they stand a chance of making this work, they’ll need to focus on the cities where they can offer one stop service between the US and India but the Gulf carriers can’t (like Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, etc.), and they’ll need to promote the ability to have a stopover.

Other than that, it sure doesn’t seem like WOW Air will be much of a deal, both in terms of the passenger experience, and in terms of the price.

Do you think WOW Air will be able to succeed in India?

Comments

  1. I imagine they’ll get a lot of customers who book their advertised fares as they’re cheaper than their competitors, not realise it isn’t full service, get stung by all the extras when they go to board and never fly them again.

    But given the size of the Indian market that’s still a sustainable business model!

    If Turkish was $100 more I would book them every single time. I can’t be bothered trying to decipher every one of WOWs policies just to save a few bucks when I know Turkish includes everything (and its good).

  2. After all is said and done the price isn’t much different as you highlighted. Plus I have to deal with the horde of people arguing over fees, possibility of irregular ops, 7:30 hour connection time on outbound (from ORD) and an inferior experience compared to ME3.

  3. I agree with you Lucky. I frequent India pretty often (ATL-DEL on QR) and the standard is 700-800. QR often has sales and low 600’s. I’ve been able to fly RT for upper 500s on QR too so there’s no way I’d pay the same price & have to bring my own food. Lol I’d take a connection/stopover in Doha any day over Iceland. Isnt QR still offering the free hotel too. I had hoped that I could get to India cheaper but back to QR.

  4. The only issue I am seeing with travellers from US to India is indian citizens require visa to transit through iceland and that is a deal breaker. I m not no one wants to go through long schengen visa process. Its always better to skip europe layover in any case.

  5. Hong Kong airlines flights are on sale on Trans Pacific route. wow air on transatlantic. Good times to travel, as opposed to just flying.

  6. I had a friend who booked WOW recently under the same reasoning as @James highlights. KLM direct to AMS would have been $100 more, so he didn’t see the point. Of course, I know that $100 is worth a direct flight, with baggage, food, drinks, and amenities….but a lot of people don’t know that. I’ll be interested to hear what his opinion of them is…

  7. Indian citizens with a US visa don’t generally need a Schengen visa to do an airside transit in the Schengen area.

  8. Indians do not travel light, and so I don’t see many of them using WOW as a way to get to the US. WOW will also have to advertise heavily in order to capture any reasonable market share that is currently owned by Gulf carriers. I reckon this route will be a lot more popular (from WOW’s perspective) with Americans looking to travel to India with light luggage.

  9. This may be a good option for those whose final destination is Delhi or the National Capital Region. But for the majority of Indian citizens, WOW won’t be a viable option right now. The reason Indians fly ME3 is because they fly to almost all major Indian airports.

  10. At those prices, i don’t see how this route lasts. I did a dummy booking from EWR and the total came to €862 (including a meal on each leg), and a checked piece of luggage (WOW Plus).

    Elsewhere SWISS costs €634 and €680! A difference of €200!!!!!
    Honestly, why would anyone bother flying WOW over the much superior SWISS?
    They’ll have trouble making this route viable but maybe they know something we don’t.

  11. The deal is not worth for US cities as full service airlines are at $100 more than WOW.

    Though India – Canada looks a good deal on WOW as due to restrictions by the Canadian Govt on the number of flights the ME3 can offer per week the fares are usually $1200 RT. Unlike US cities ME3 can’t dump their A380’s daily to Canada. So the fares are high.

    WOW is offering DEL-YYZ/YUL at $600 RT which is a steal. There is a lot of people from North India travelling to Canada.

    If WOW can throw in a visa free stopover for Indians at KEF that would be great.

  12. It will still make sense from some folks who value time rather than luxury.
    For e.g. I am based out of CVG. CVG 12.50 am [D] — 11.00 am [A] — KEF — 11.45 am [D] — 3.15 am [A] DEL . This will be an awesome shortest possible trip from CVG to DEL

  13. I use wow quite a bit for weekend trips to europe from Toronto and that works pretty well because I can travel with just a backpack and the journey times are short and the fares under C$400. I have family in India and this could be an attractive way to go for a few days but even if I were able to go with just a personal item, a C$600 fare (from Canada) would mean spending about C$50-100 on additional food/drinks along the way, plus there is very long connection in Keflavik on the way there. So all in all, I could stand to save about C$300 off a normal airline fare, but then comes the reality that while I can go to europe for weekends several times a year, I don’t really want to do a short backpack only trip to India for 3-4 days – it would be tiring and exhausting and ultimately such a long trip isn’t really suited to “quick getaway” type trips.

  14. Shrugs. I think buying wow plus fares are missing the point. If two people are traveling, at the intro prices it’d be $800 for the tickets, plus $140 for a checked bag. A regular seat assignment would be $28 total. Throw in a couple meals for about $75 total. That’s two people getting from the US to India for just about $1100. That’s insanely cheap, and a good $600 less than a “full service carrier.” I’m not really sure what you mean by a “better connection experience.” If you aren’t flying business class, the connection experience resembles a cattle call on any airline.

    Just to put it out there, for $1000 more, this hypothetical couple could get seats akin to premium economy and for around $70 more in bag fees, you could spend a couple days in iceland. I totally agree that if we’re talking about a fare difference of ~$100 between a ULCC and a “regular” airline, the latter probably wins. I just don’t agree with your assessment of the math here.

  15. I think their (slight) advantage is when and if booking one way flights. Most full service carriers have very expensive one way flights and the ones that do have cheaper flights are the likes of – Kuwait/Aeroflot.

    Ex: 2/6/2019: One way EWR to DEL
    WOW: $380 with one checked in bag
    Kuwait: $469 (two checked in bags, carryon and meals)
    Aeroflot: $466 (don’t know about this but should be comparable to kuwait)

    I have flown Kuwait once and Wow never, but I think I would still pick kuwait knowing that the layover is shorter and the meals are decent although there are no drinks.

    I think this may be a good option for someone who is redeeming miles and doesn’t have enough for a round trip.

    Travel agencies that send tour groups may end up getting group rates and limited luggage may also be a good target for Wow. They typically travel light compared to the regular Indian traveler.

    But nonetheless, two more options to fly to India will only add more to the competition and may bring prices down on other carriers and this could be a win-win!

  16. WOW is getting A330neos, so if other airlines made some puzzling routes work due to the 787, I have no doubt WOW can do it as well, with a similar fuel efficient aircraft.

  17. @ Andy 11235 — Are you talking about a one-way or roundtrip ticket? A checked bag is $70 per segment, so would be $280 for a roundtrip. A seat assignment would be $36 per person roundtrip. So we’re already at $1,152 without any food or drinks, and with one checked bag only. If you want to add $75 for meals (which seems on the low side), that brings us up to $1,227, which is over $600 per person. At that point you’re within range of many of the fares on non-ULCCs. And again, I think that’s on the low side, because that’s assuming a single checked bag for two people, and I think you’re low on the meal prices as well.

  18. – India’s aviation market is growing leaps and bounds
    – Long-term trend is long-haul budget travel – and Wow is capitalizing on the those trends ahead of Indigo/Spicejet; look at Norwegian’s and Air Asia’s success
    – Wow will fly to other Indian cities – I assume this is a step in a long-term strategy?
    – Indians love a bargain, they’ll get their own food on board… I doubt the average person will pay for more than bags
    – Many comments expressing incredulity at who will fly this are first world travelers who live in their USD bubble

  19. “Single checked bag for two people” you must be joking. We Indians pack so much that many times even two checked bags per person is not enough. My brother in law recently went to India. They were four people travelling i.e. 8 checked bags and 4 carry ons and yet he had few bags overweight. On his return trip, they were three and yet he had to courier about 25lbs

  20. $100 might not seem to be a lot for Americans and Europeans, but it is a lot of money to many people in India.

    For every traveler out there that would pay $100 for one less connection, there is someone out there that would add a connection to save $40. It’s all subjective, and this is why Walmart makes money.

  21. -no families who can sit together
    -no bollymovies
    -no (at least) free water
    -no checked bags
    -no food

    and they want to battle the ME3?
    Good Luck

  22. @Lucky while typing it up I was doing a dummy booking on wow to see how they’d price things. I initially thought that they meant $70 per flight leg. However, when I make a booking, they only charge per ticketed city-pair. So if you strictly buy BWI-DEL they only charge $70 for the checked bag each way. If you do the stopover in iceland, then it’s charged separately.

  23. @OleGunner I guess the difference is whether you are aiming to visit family where obviously there is going to be lots of stuff being brought back and forth (gifts and such). I’m thinking from a leisure traveller’s perspective — a tourist who is looking to go on a cheap vacation to India. It’s the ryanair market — the folks who wouldn’t have necessarily considered going to India if it weren’t for the advertisement of $199ow fares.

  24. Or for example if you’re in the Bay Area, you could just fly nonstop SFO-DEL, with a choice of a daytime or night time flight (both nonstop) with Air India for less than $600 per way (based on r/t purchase). Full service carrier, although granted, a 3-star carrier only – but better than the Wow 1-star.

  25. This will be a gold mine for WOW. They are geographically located so they can serve random cities like Cincinnati, Cleveland, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, amongst their other American feed for a very short layover to Delhi. Also flying in coach in a a321 for ~6 hrs and an a330 for ~11hrs is alot less painful than any 777 3-4-3 arrangement. If you need luggage you pay for it, if you don’t, its $400 r/t from the midwest to India. Flights from cleveland to philly are normally $400 r/t. If you live in a city where there are direct flights or connections via European carriers, sure that may be better, let me know when any fly to CVG, CLE, STL, or PIT.

  26. Secondary US cities (STL,PIT,CVG, etc.) will love flying out of home base.
    Will gladly pay WOW plus fare of 630 (or even couple of hundreds extra as typical STL-DEL or CVG-DEL is almost always more than 900 plus inconvenience of dealing with multiple carriers.

    Indians have been fine with travelling with carry-on and single check-in for years (Just ask UA)

    Nice thing about bringing your own food is that one does not have to worry about airline “forgetting” about AVML

    @lucky:
    Come on man. You responded to Andy 11235 but ignored R’s complaint?
    Shame on you for allowing and then continue to keep comments by Debit.
    (better to keep that kind of sewage out)

  27. For a Delawarian, both EWR and IAD are inconvenient. (unpredictable traffic requiring to put lot more buffer travel time). Also, ME3 makes the total travel path much longer. Stop in KEF adds hardly any miles and BWI is lot easy to deal with compared to IAD or EWR/JFK. Hope Wow can add BOM (or even extend TLV flight to BOM – plenty of BOM-TLV traffic)

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