Is Icelandic international carrier WoW Airlines really as cheap as the company made it sound on Tuesday? The airline created quite a stir as it said it was offering transcontinental flights from Delhi to cities in the US (with a stopover in Reykjavik) at a rock-bottom one-way fare of Rs 13,499 (and Rs 26,999 round trip).
However, what it did not mention was the bevy of services for which you would have to pay hefty charges – from check-in to in-cabin baggage, seat choice and food. And, these charges go up even more if you check in at the airport rather than going for online check-in when you book the ticket. To avail of these services, considered quite common by Indian travellers, especially those flying to the US, the price tab for the fare could increase by another Rs 20,000 for a round trip, and over Rs 26,000 if you ask for these services during check-in – the bulk of which is because of baggage.
That is one part of the story; the other part is that introductory fares are available only if you are quick. So, for instance, while bookings were available from yesterday, the lowest fare of Rs 13,499 is now available only on two of the five days that the airlines fly from Delhi to New York in January. They have already gone up to Rs 21,999, even Rs 28,999, on other days. And, these flights offer you only the ticket and entry with one personal item which cannot be more than 17x13x10 inches in dimension. For the rest, you have to pay extra.
Travel agents point out that passengers who want to take one carry bag and a check-in baggage will be poorer by Rs 7,998 in a one-way flight. In case you have forgotten to book this facility online, you have to fork out a staggering Rs 10,718 at check-in. And this, of course, excludes the charges if your baggage has crossed the permissible weight.
You also have to pay for seats for each leg of the journey (which means twice when you fly to the US) and that the shell-out could range from Rs 599 to as high as Rs 16,599 if you want to shift to large comfortable seats with a lot of leg space. Besides, you have to also pay for food twice in a one-way journey (unless you decide not to eat) which will cost you a minimum of Rs 629 for one item. If you also want the facility to cancel the ticket due to illness or emergency, you have to add in another Rs 1,999 as cancellation protection. Also, be ready with documents to prove that you really have had an emergency.
However, to be fair, even after including all the extras to the introductory fare is still cheaper than established players, especially the West Asian ones. And, it also offers to take you to, say, New York, in 19-22 hours from Delhi.
That is because fares of other airlines like Kuwait Airways, which, according to booking sites, is the cheapest, for instance, are Rs 61,743 in the first week of January and it takes 22 hours to fly from Delhi to New York. European airlines like British Airways are much more expensive, with a round trip fare costing Rs 88,000.
But the key question is, at what price do you get a WoW ticket? If you are flying to New York on January 6 and returning on January 13 in 2019, you have to pay Rs 50,998 return fare and, of course, the extras that you have to pay. Considering that, Kuwait Airlines looks more attractive during the same period of travel, especially as the fare is also refundable.
But, Wow also offers different fare segments – so, for instance, if you want to go on January 6 from Delhi to New York, you could also choose the Wow Plus for Rs 36,758, including a hand baggage, a checked-in baggage and choice of a ticket included in the offer. All you need is to buy food. And, if you want more services and leg room, you can pay and opt for Wow Comfy, which comes with a larger seat, and also cancellation protection apart from what Plus offers, at Rs 36,999. But you will have to consider that with a much stiffer price, WoW also has many other choices.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that WoW airlines is Finnish. It is, in fact, Icelandic. The error is regretted.