WOW airlines has positioned themselves as the budget upstart that can do transatlantic flights better than the big boys at much cheaper fares. For an airline founded just five years ago, they are definitely making a name for themselves. Let me preface this post by stating that I am no stranger to budget airlines. I regularly fly Spirit and Frontier so I know what to expect or at least I thought I did.
My flight out of MIA was scheduled to depart at 4:40 PM on July 15. I was connecting from Houston with another airline and was supposed to arrive just before 2:00 PM. So you can imagine my concern when I received the following text from WOW the night BEFORE my flight.
Dear WOW air guest on flight WW131 KEF-MIA 14.06.2017. Please read following message carefully. Due to unforeseen circumstances your flight will depart 40 minutes earlier than scheduled. New estimated time of departure will be at 15:55 local time. Please note that check in closes at 15:10 local time. Kind regards WOW air.
First off they have me doing math trying to figure out what time 15:55 is. Yes I know much of the world uses military time but I do not. Secondly who has ever heard of an airline moving a flight earlier???? But then within the next minute or so I received these two messages.
CORRECTION – Dear WOW air guest on flight WW132 MIA-KEF 15.06.2017. Please read following message carefully. Due to unforeseen circumstances your flight will depart one hour earlier than scheduled. New estimated time of departure will be at 17:45 local time. Please note that check in closes at 17:00 local time. Kind regards WOW air.
CORRECTION NR. 2 – Dear WOW air guest on flight WW132 MIA-KEF 15.06.2017. Please read following message carefully. Due to unforeseen circumstances your flight will depart 40 minutes earlier than scheduled. New estimated time of departure will be at 15:55 local time. Please note that check in closes at 15:10 local time. We apologize for the repeated corrections. Kind regards WOW air.
At this point I am confused as hell and go online to see what time the flight is actually supposed to leave. After two “corrections” both with different times I have no idea what to think. On the website it states that my flight #132 (not #131 from the first text) is indeed scheduled to leave at the new time of 3:55 PM. I double check my flight from Houston to make sure that I won’t miss the connection.
As I began my travel on Thursday, June 15 I’m just hoping that there wouldn’t be any more changes and that I’d make the flight just fine. But I check my phone and see that this text came in earlier that morning.
Dear WOW air guest on flight MIA-KEF today June 15th. Due to technical default in our aircraft last Tuesday, we are now operating two flights today from Miami to Keflavik, Iceland. Your flight number today is WW9134. This flight will be operated on a subcharter and we wanted to inform you that we will not be able to honor any pre-purchsed seat assignments. You will of course receive a refund of your selection for a specific seat and we kindly ask you to send an email after the flight including your booking number to firstname.lastname@example.org for that refund. The flight is leaving at 16:35 and check-in closes 15:10 time. We highly recommend that you arrive at the airport early. We wish you a pleasant flight and see you soon in MIA! Kind regards WOW air.
A couple of things here- notice there is yet another departure time. So again I’m doing math trying to figure out if I will make the flight or not. I didn’t completely understand this at the time but I had be switched to a completely different flight so the boarding passes I’d printed the night before would not work. I didn’t discover this until I tried to get through security in MIA (yes connecting flights from within the US have to go through security because of the stupid way MIA is designed) and eating into my short layover. I had to walk to the other side of the earth to the WOW counter and wait in a ridiculous line to get a new boarding pass. I should also mention that they didn’t reissue my boarding pass for the flight from Reykjavik to Amsterdam – that should have told me something right there.
Well when I get to the gate there are lots and lots of people. I slowly realize that the folks that were on Tuesday’s canceled flight plus those from my flight were leaving from adjoining gates. I’m still unclear as to which plane I’m on and the gate agents (who are not technically WOW employees) are of no help other than to tell me that I will be on I flight. At this point I’m just hoping I actually make it onto a plane. Apparently that may not be enough. In speaking with those from the canceled flight I discover that they were on the tarmac for a while before the flight was canceled.
As it is time to board and everyone makes their mad dash to buy snacks and drinks (although at airport prices I don’t know if they are coming out ahead of what WOW charges). I am indeed on flight #9134 which is a plane WOW chartered but has no WOW staff on it. Despite multiple texts or the info displayed at the gate the flight did not leave 40-60 minutes early. It left about 1.5 hours late. This causes me some concern as my layover in Reykjavik is about 1.5 hours. Worrying won’t solve the problem so I don’t. I sit back and enjoy the “meal service” which is now free due to our late departure. People applauded at this news until they discovered that since this was a charter and not an actual WOW flight there was no menu of options only ham and cheese sandwiches on white bread.
You can imagine the concern of other passengers about their connections and luggage. I did not check a bag so I cannot report on whether WOW is any good at that but I will tell you that a couple flying to London (connecting from Reykjavik as we all were) had tags that stated their bags were going to Paris. They tried to get it corrected with the gate agents but if you recall those people don’t work for WOW so their advice was to call customer service. I did not pay for a seat assignment so I don’t know if those were actually refunded. (SN: someone on my refturn flight made a comment that leads me to believe that calling customer service might not get the desired results)
Upon arriving in Reykjavik I am able to check my text messages where I find this.
Dear WOW air guest. We are sorry to inform you that due to late arrival of operating aircraft we are forced to delay departure on your flight WW442 KEF – AMS 16JUN17. New estimated departure time is now 06:45 local time. Please note that check-in closes at 05:15 local time. We hope you accept our apology for this delay and we wish you a WOW flight! Kind regards, WOW air.
I’m not sure if it is my plane that has caused the delay or another but I race through passport control and to the gate. I get there just as they are starting the boarding process. Remember I don’t have a new boarding pass, actually no one on the flight has a boarding pass for their connection. I do have the one I printed at home but I suspect it won’t work. At the gate they must manually check me in and change my seat assignment.
My return flight from Amsterdam to Reykjavik was uneventful. I was scheduled to have a four hour layover. At some point after I’d left Amsterdam I received this text.
Dear WOW air guest on flight WW131 KEF-MIA23.06.2017.Please read following message carefully. Due to unforeseen circumstances your flight will depart one hour earlier than scheduled. New estimated time of departure will be at 17:45 local time. Please note that check in closes at 17:00 local time. We also want you to be aware that there will be a fuel stop in Bangor USA on the way to Iceland. Kind regards WOW air.
Here we go again. Not only is the flight now scheduled to leave earlier (not an issue for me but could be for others) but we have to make a fuel stop in Maine. I just see this fuel stop as another opportunity for something to go wrong. As we board the plane many of us are reissued seat assignments since this plane is smaller than the original. There is some major drama on board because people who paid to sit together are not being accommodated. Incidentally we do not leave at the new departure time. My guess is because they couldn’t get people seated but we were never given an official reason. We depart at the originally scheduled time which means that with the fuel stop we will be at least an hour late getting in to Miami.
Up until this point I was willing to consider my original flight to be an unfortunate incident. As this was my first time flying with WOW I figured maybe I’ll give them another chance if they run one of those $100 deals I’m always hearing about. But after this happened on my return flight I just can’t gamble with them.