Another Low-Fare Airline Tackles the Atlantic

WOW Air, the new Icelandic low-fare airline, will start flying between the U.S. and Europe this spring. Say hello to more affordable fares across the pond!

WOW Air, the new Icelandic low-fare airline, announced it would start flying between Boston and London/Gatwick this spring. Similar to Icelandair’s long-term flying pattern, flights will be via Reykjavik: leaving Boston in the evening and arriving in London the following morning, with the morning departure, afternoon arrival reverse pattern.

So far, WOW hasn’t announced anything about Iceland stopovers, but I’ll be very surprised if the line doesn’t offer stopover packages.

Flights will be in A320s, at a slightly below-average 30- to 31-inch pitch but average or better width. Although the airline is single class, you can reserve the extra-room exit-row seats and even guarantee an empty middle seat by paying extra.

Fares aren’t available yet, but the fare pattern will almost surely continue the carrier’s policy of offering very low fares to early buyers on at least some dates. Currently, for example, fares from London to Reykjavik are as low as £98 each way (about $157), including the onerous British passenger duty and a £6 “payment fee.” The only surprise is a very stiff charge of £19 for one checked bag.

Whether WOW flights will appeal to U.S. and Canadian travelers depends on one main factor: Will the fares be low enough to offset the increased flight time (compared to nonstops) and the hassle of an overnight stop? Back in the regulated days, low fares on Loftledir, the precursor to Icelandic, got a lot of budget travelers to accept those conditions, and many of them opted for a quick Iceland stopover. WOW seems to be hoping to replicate that formula.

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By Ed Perkins

A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on MyBusinessTravel.com, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.

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