Are These $99 WOW Air Flights to Europe Legit?

See recent posts by Maria Teresa Hart

Here's the Hype:

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Bram Steeman

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Bram Steeman

With a hammering heart and quick skim of the calendar, we jumped on Wow Airline’s website eager to snag an ultra-cheapo ticket to Europe. Their low fares were already getting headlines from news outlets like the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Gate and were popping up all over everyone's Facebook feed (thanks, Aunt Janice!). It was easy to see why -- tickets from the west coast to Western Europe were supposedly going for $199. And from the east coast, those fares drop to $99. The idea of adding passport stamps over President’s Day weekend suddenly seemed possible!

Compared to the Reality:

Then reality came crashing down, just like the Wow Airline site. Our first few searches ended in 404-style errors. Of the month we selected, 23 of the 31 days had “flight full or no flight” results. (President’s Day weekend? Forget it. For several of our searches, the entire month of February was booked.) When we final got some dates that worked, the website coughed up prices in Icelandic Krona. Then, finally when the site behaved we got some real prices: Los Angeles to Stockholm, $409 — one way. Ouch. And from Boston to Stockholm $375 was listed as the “best price,” again one way. Keep in mind that doesn’t include surcharges. There are surcharges for everything, and we mean everything. Even if you’re used to just doing carry on, you’ll get slapped for a $57 fee for carrying anything over 11 pounds. (Frankly our airport magazines could be 11 pounds alone!) And would you like a seat on the plane? Oh, that’s another fee, which could be up to $48, if you want a chair that leans back. (How fancy!)

The Bottom Line:

Now, we don’t doubt those $199 west coast to Western Europe tickets exist, a few people have snapped them up including a BuzzFeed reporter. But, as they documented, even when you score one of those tickets, the return flight and the added fees quickly bump things into the $1,000 range. As a comparison, a quick search on Kayak revealed $500 roundtrip flights from New York City to Stockholm on Turkish Airlines. And Airfarewatchdog alerts have even lower rates, if you’re quick to snap them up.

So in the end, Wow Airlines lived up to its name. But in this case, it was “Wow, what a letdown.”

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