WOW Air Adds Fuel Stop To One US Route

WOW Air sure has turned into a hot mess. A year ago they seemed like an innovative airline bringing low fares to the transatlantic market, while at this point they seem like… well, an airline that’s being run into the ground.

WOW Air has been cutting US routes like crazy. They’ve just returned two of their three Airbus A330s to the leasing company. The airline was going to be taken over by Icelandair for a mere $18 million, but that deal didn’t go through. Now it looks like the airline may be taken over by Indigo Partners, which invests in several airlines.

Here’s something interesting WOW Air is now doing, which just seems like an awful passenger experience. WOW Air is now down to one Airbus A330, which is the only plane capable of operating nonstop to the US West Coast, and also the only plane capable of operating their nonstop flight to New Delhi, which is about to launch.

At the moment WOW Air’s only destination on the US West Coast is Los Angeles. At the moment they fly there 4x weekly, and up until recently this was with an A330. Then in January the airline will reduce the flight to once weekly, and between January 28 and April 2, 2019, the airline will suspend the route altogether.

But here’s the thing — the airline only has a single A330, and they’ll need that largely for the New Delhi route. So they’re getting “creative” (if that’s what you want to call it) with their LAX route.

WOW Air is now flying an Airbus A321 between Iceland and Los Angeles. That flight covers a distance of just over 4,300 miles, which is most definitely not within range for an A321.

So the airline is temporarily operating the route via Edmonton to refuel. The flight has diverted to Edmonton for the past three days. The schedule shows that WOW Air intends to operate an A321 on the route through December 16, 2018. 10hr35min on an A321 sure doesn’t sound fun.

After that date it still shows an A330, though my guess is that this is just because they haven’t yet updated the schedule.

I do think it’s possible WOW Air has one of two motivations here:

  • This could just come down to aircraft availability, though WOW Air hasn’t yet launched the New Delhi route, and despite that they’ve used an A321 the past few days, while the A330 sits on the ground in Iceland
  • This could be a financial decision; I can’t imagine the Los Angeles to Iceland flight is that popular in early December, so it could just be that they can minimize their losses by operating a smaller plane, even with a fuel stop

I’ll be curious to see how long this continues…

What do you make of WOW Air’s Edmonton fuel stop?

Comments

  1. A transatlantic trip from the east coast on a narrowbody (say NYC to London) aint that bad. But yikes, 10+ hours with a fuel stop? Hard no from me.

  2. They might as well just terminate the LAX at this point. I just feel they are making things worse especially for the passenger experience.

  3. +1 @GuruJanitor. 10+ hours on a high density narrowbody is a definately a no-go for me. Especially if I were to be flying onwards to Europe

  4. “At the moment WOW Air’s only destination on the US West Coast is Los Angeles.”

    WOW also flies to SFO. We used that flight few months ago.

  5. The seat width and pitch seems to be the same according to Seatguru. Assuming it’s right, what’s the benefit of being on a widebody?

  6. What’s the big deal?united and others fly 757 transatlantic,often requiring an unscheduled fuel stop

  7. @ Joe Star — The difference is they fly planes that can usually operate nonstop, and once in a while they may have to divert due to strong headwinds. In this case WOW Air is flying a plane that couldn’t make the flight nonstop under any circumstances. There’s a difference between a flight with a scheduled fuel stop and unscheduled fuel stop.

  8. @ Callum — Several things. More areas to stretch your legs, more bathrooms, a 2-4-2 configuration, and a nonstop flight, just to name a few.

  9. Low cost simply doesn’t work on long-haul routes. Michael O’Leary of Ryanair, despite what you may think of him, called this out years ago.

  10. @Lucky

    – More areas to stretch your legs – why do you need more areas?

    – More bathrooms – and more people, does it really make much difference?

    – a 2-4-2 configuration – yeah I guess.

    – A nonstop flight – irrelevant.

    – Just to name a few – you named a few, I still see no major differences…

  11. I’ve actually said that Wow Air should have operated to the west coast with A321’s in the first place. The A330’s are big, cost more to operate, and have horrible utilization. At the right price, people will put up with any kind of torture. I think they should keep operating the route like this and allow people to preclear in Edmonton, giving them a competitive advantage because who likes going through immigration at LAX. Also, it puts another destination on the map for them and maybe they can even capture some YEG-LAX traffic.

  12. I’m flying this route tomorrow. I found out about the fuel stop accidentally because I had been monitoring the flight since I found out the Icelandair deal falling through and called WOW in a panic when I saw the “diversion” to Edmonton- not looking forward to it! I received text alerts about the change less than 24hrs before departure, and they’re moving up the departure time by an hour. I’m looking at it as an adventure for the low low cost of $199 RT… wish me luck!

  13. I just cannot see the DEL-KEF route working unless they are attempting to attract tourists to Iceland. Given the numerous competitive options for India to the US, what is WOW thinking?

  14. @Callum

    “A nonstop flight – irrelevant”

    That’s an opinion you’re on the unpopular side of. That makes all the difference to most flyers I know.

  15. 10+ hours for $199 RT? So what? You get what you’ve paid for.
    WOW Air will fail, it’s just a matter of time. Indigo only extends their lifeline (for whatever reason, maybe to merge with Wizzair).

  16. I have to laugh at this, Lucky. You, and many of your readers, are too young to remember when the flying public’s choice for long, international flights – many of them multi-stop – was basically limited to three jet aircraft: the 707, the DC8 and the VC10. Those were the planes flown by virtually all the world’s major carriers, and all three were configured 2-2 up front and 3-3 in the back. No beds, no bars, and until the mid-60’s, no movies. Frankly, I don’t see how 11 hours in economy class on an A321 is any worse than 11 hours squeezed into a 3-4-3 configured 777.

  17. @Super-VC10

    Sorry grandma/grandpa, but welcome to the 21st century. Go hop on the Titanic with your 20th century nostalgia while the rest of us weaklings get there quickly and comfortably.

    Also an A321 is 3-3 configured while an A330 is 2-4-2 configured.

  18. I agree with Super-VC10. An economy class seat is about the same in an A321 or a 777. The width of the plane or height of the ceiling may look nice but doesn’t make much of a difference in comfort.

  19. For some reason, WOW is operating their remaining A330 (registration TF-GAY) from CDG to Reykjavik rather than from LAX, where the extra range is needed.

    Maybe Paris is more profitable with higher load factors, but this doesn’t make much sense otherwise.

  20. I’ve felt the tone of these comments devolve for a little while now. It bothers me. It’s almost as if some of us are waiting in the wings, sharpening our claws, waiting to pounce on the first person with whom we disagree. The attacks on each other and the author have become almost vicious. There is really no need for such vitriol. This is supposed to be a fun hobby…I assume we’re all here because of a shared love of travel/aviation/deals. It would be great if we could try to cut each other some slack. I’m just sayin’.

  21. There’s no point them even operating the route. They should give up now
    A long haul on an a320!! Reduced capacity from an a330. Stopover at Edmonton What would they do with the upto 150 passengers ( each way) bumped from the a330 given the capacity diffence ? They have to pay denied boarding and delay compensation of upto eur600.

  22. Flew that flight from keflavik to LAX last Sunday. Total cluster. Delayed due to waiting for gas and multiple de icing in the middle of f’ing nowhere Canada in the middle of f’ing winter.
    Arrived at gate LAX 4 hours after scheduled. No ground support available. Was bused to terminal after an hour wait on the tarmac.
    No customer service. Even in Iceland if you have a problem, they give you a number for an Indian call center. Ground support in Brussels (Contracted out to Swissport) told me if I wanted customer service, I should fly another airline.
    One stop enroute Europe seemed tolerable for the cost saving. But with two. And the horrible service and nickle and dime for everything including a cup of water, a combination not including WOW would be my choice in the future.
    Any group that invests in this totally dysfunctional airline is stupid.

  23. @Lucky

    Wow air is not running smoothly at the moment.

    Inbound passengers from LAX missed their connections in the past days, now they have advanced the departure.

    The ORD service has new timings since last week, with the plane doing a direct turnaround instead of being parked 22 -23 hours. At least two times since then the plane was coming in very late for the European connections.

    If Wow doesn’t receive any of those A330-900 ordered in the next weeks, the service to Orlando will also need a fuel stop. It will run on the days with the New Delhi service so the remaining A330 is in use already.

    Flights to Montreal, Dublin & Brussels have been cancelled last minute over the past days, not sure if it is to a lack of demand or a lack of planes, two of the A321 fleet seem to be leased currently.

  24. You have to remember on today’s economy the manority are trying to give us a good deal & at the same time save some $$$. WOW has the deal, & to save some $$$ they have done like everyone else, cut back. Many might not like it, & that is ok, just remember, they are still working. Many like the non-stops, unfortunately it did not work for WOW Airlines, so back to the drawing board……..inbetween stop for the longer flight. Are we still getting there on time? Are we still getting the same service? Seats chosen? So why the fuss? Just take a couple of good books with you and read, or some puzzle book, coloring books, etc. & entertain yourself! Get creative. Start the process of learning to have patience & creativity……..you will surprise yourself. The older you get, the more you understand & are willing to work with others. We need to learn how to smell the roses and at the same time enjoy them. Just saying….

  25. I was on this flight last night. We were notified 3 days prior and had to reselect seats. The flight was pretty much completely full and we even saw two passengers who had the same exact seat assigned to them a few rows in front of us. The only reason the flight was bearable for me was because they gave us a free upgrade to the emergency exit row (classified as an XXL seat which usually costs $69.99). Some of the rows had hardly any legroom and it definitely seemed like people were miserable (lots of people standing up and walking up and down the rows for most of the flight. Also congregating in the emergency exit rows). WOW also tried to charge us for a 3rd checked bag even though we never selected a 3rd bag. This locked out my wife from even being able check in online as well as choose a seat. This was our first time flying WOW, and will also be our last.

  26. Terrible experience with my two nieces in feb.. the cheap tickets turned out to be double the price from Paris to Toronto .. one night at an hotel.. and couple months later my nephew from Paris to Iceland ..lost all their luggage’s .. worst communication ever .. no one to help you.. not wort the discount to aggravation…

  27. Nelky
    Are we still getting there on time? No. 5 hours late.
    Are we still getting the same service? No, there is no customer service available at the airports.
    Seats chosen? Yes, paid $249 for premium , but was seated in coach regular seat.
    So why the fuss? Because my ride home had to wait an extra 6 hours at the airport to meet me, because WOW did not provide adequate updates of all the delays even though I signed up for notifications. And now I have to battle someone in an Indian call center to get reimbursed for the services that I paid for up front, which were not provided.
    If you have an open ended schedule and no flight to connect with, and don’t mind sitting on the tarmac for 4 hours after a 16 hour day, WOW sounds like the perfect flight for you. Let me know how your next flight with them goes. And what creative things you will do when you get snowed in at Edmonton. By all means “smell the roses”, all I could smell was the overflowing lavatories.
    From someone obviously lacking your patience and creativity.

  28. One minute aboard WOW is one minute too many. It’s an airline designed for trailer trash. I miss the days when they stayed at home in their trailers instead of ruining travel for the rest of us.

  29. If you don’t like them, don’t fly them. I’m sure there is a segment of customers who will fly them for the price (and no, they’re not trailer trash), wow just needs to find the repeat customers who are happy with them. Will take some time.

    I’m wondering if the YVR-route will be a fuel stop as well. Also, are they selling the LA to Edmonton (and YVR) leg separately? That could work out in their favor.

  30. I am one of the unfortunate passengers affected by this. I will be flying Los Angeles > Reykjavik on Saturday, Dec 15th. It was the first time I booked WOW Air and due to the bad reputation they have, I booked WOW Biz (their version of Premium Economy) for this long flight. Now it looks like the plane they operate instead doesn’t even have WOW Biz. And I have a connecting flight to Germany to catch, so I’ll be extra screwed.

  31. Yes, and no recourse ..you have to be a lawyer to read the fine prints .
    MY nephew never got reimbursed for his suitcases that they lost on a direct flight beside ..wishing you the best however ..
    My two nieces last feb .flight from Paris via reikjavik Toronto was delayed both time and ended costing $1.250.around ..no deal … no food,no drink..terrible ..

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