WOW Air Launching Flights To Orlando As Of December 2018

Filed Under: WOW Air

WOW Air has been growing their route network significantly the past several years. Arguably too fast, given their financial performance. Their first US destination was Boston in March 2015, and since then they’ve added service to over a dozen other US cities.

WOW Air has now announced their next US destination. As of December 18, 2018, WOW Air will offer 3x weekly seasonal flights to Orlando. This new route will launch as of December 18, 2018, and will operate on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays eastbound, and on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays westbound.

The plan is for the route to operate through April, so it’s clear that this route is intended primarily for Europeans to travel to Orlando, rather than the other way around.

The schedule will be as follows:

WW187 Reykjavik to Orlando departing 4:40PM arriving 8:05PM
WW188 Orlando to Reykjavik departing 4:20PM arriving 4:45AM

The flight is blocked at 8hr25min westbound and 7hr25min eastbound.

This route will be operated by one of WOW Air’s Airbus A321neos. At ~3,534 miles, this will be one of the longer A321neo routes. Also keep in mind that WOW Air has an especially dense configuration, which increases the weight of the plane and reduces range. Given the strong headwinds when flying westbound in winter, I can’t help but wonder if they’ll have to add weight restrictions on the flight some days, or if this just barely cuts it.

As you can see, WOW Air’s aircraft utilization on this route is horrible, as the plane will be on the ground in Orlando for about 20 hours.

That’s simply because WOW Air’s route network is based around optimizing connections between the US and Europe, so the priority is that all flights arrive and depart Iceland around the same time, rather than having the priority be quick turnarounds at their outstations.

As a result, WOW Air isn’t just useful if your final destination is Iceland, but is also useful if you’re traveling to Western Europe. They offer connections to over a dozen destinations in Europe, so they’re a cheap way to fly from the US to Western Europe with a stop.

This new flight is now bookable on WOW Air’s website, and fares start at just $99 one-way, based on a roundtrip purchase.

While that has the potential to be a great deal, keep in mind that WOW Air is as “no frills” as they get, as they charge for everything, including bags, seat assignments, food, etc. They even adjusted their carry-on policy earlier this year. So be sure you crunch the numbers before booking, so you can figure out if you’re actually getting a good deal. Nowadays transatlantic flights are often also inexpensive on “full service” airlines, so the savings might not be that big in all cases.

When WOW Air first launched US service a few years ago, Gaurav was kind enough to share his experience flying WOW Air between Boston and Iceland, and had positive things to say overall. If you come in with the right mindset, they’re a solid option.

Bottom line

WOW Air has been going through some growing pains, as they’ve been adding and also some canceling routes, and they’re not doing great financially. I’m skeptical about their new Orlando route:

  • Do the economics really add up when a plane has to sit on the ground for 20 hours in order to make the route work? Operating a single rotation takes over 35 hours of one airframe. They did something similar with Miami, but ended up having to cancel the flight.
  • Orlando is a big vacation destination for families, so how popular will WOW Air be for families when they have to pay for everything (including bags), given how cheap transatlantic flights often are on other airlines in winter?
  • Will this densely configured A321neo even be able to carry a full load from Reykjavik to Orlando with strong headwinds, or will the flight be weight restricted some days?

What do you make of WOW Air’s new route from Iceland to Orlando?

  1. It would be smart for WOW (and Icelandair) to apply to run a fifth freedom route onto this, both will have horrible ground time on this route and it may be helpful to have a fifth freedom to CUN, NAS, (if possible HAV or CCC), or any other location in the Carribean/Central America

  2. While something tells me winter is not the worst time to have the plane sitting on the ground (likely low utilization that time of year), I wonder if there are any fifth freedom routes available that can be operated with that airframe to somewhere touristy in Central America or northern South America, like CUN/LIM/LIR/etc.?

  3. I’m really excited because this new route is going to open up some options for me. I’m always seeing great flight sales on WOW out of the Northeast airports but since I’m travelling out of the New Orleans airport (MSY), getting to the Northeast often ruins the price for me.

    The good news is that I find flights from New Orleans (MSY) to Orlando (MCO) for about $20 on Spirit or Frontier pretty often, so I’m thinking that Iceland is in my future for 2019!

  4. I’ve flown internationally to Europe on European carriers from Orlando and most of the passengers are Europeans headed to the US

  5. With regards to fifth freedom routes, presumably it can fly down to the European Caribbean islands without any difficulty if it wants to.

    Whether there’s any market for such a flight is another matter – not to mention they won’t want any delays to result in the Orlando flight getting missed connections.

  6. While it makes sense for full service carriers on some high yielding routes (e.g. LH, BA) leaving their A380s etc parked the whole day in JNB i can’t help but question the finances with this LCC. That plane costs lots of cash staying on the ground for a full day.

    But somehow it ought to be working as this is a common thing with many of their flights to US.

  7. This should actually be a pretty good flight, because unlike St. Louis or Pittsburgh, Orlando is actually a city where many Europeans want to go.

  8. This is my hometown airport so I am extremely excited!!! I do think the route will be successful though mostly because we have a lot of Europeans visit Orlando (especially from Great Britain)

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