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Cleveland Hopkins’ new carriers to Europe: What to know before booking on Wow, Icelandair

February 18, 2018

Cleveland Hopkins’ new carriers to Europe: What to know before booking on Wow, Icelandair

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Fly to Europe for as little as $99? It won’t be that cheap for me, unfortunately.

Still, I suspect the $880 ticket I just booked for a May trip is much cheaper than it would have been a year ago.

I recently booked a ticket to Europe – Amsterdam by way of Reykjavik – and didn’t score one of the super-cheap fares occasionally offered by Wow Air, the ultra-low cost carrier that starts service from Cleveland in May.

In fact, my one-way fare on Wow was more expensive than my return trip on Icelandair, the other European carrier that starts flying from Cleveland in May.

The bottom line: Do your homework before booking on these two new airlines and see which one works better for you.

Perhaps my experience will be instructive. Here’s what I found:

Cleveland to Reykjavik to Amsterdam

I’m flying to Reykjavik on May 7, the third flight from Cleveland on Wow, which begins service from Hopkins on May 4. The flight leaves Cleveland at 12:30 a.m. – a time that I’m hoping will maximize my ability to sleep on the plane (fingers crossed).

I plan to spend 4 ½ days in Iceland before heading, on Saturday, May 12, to Amsterdam for a few days. I thought I could book one of Wow’s stopover rates, which allows travelers, with one transaction, to stay and tour in Iceland before heading to another destination in Europe.

Unfortunately, Wow doesn’t allow stopovers on one-way itineraries, so I was forced to make two transactions – Cleveland to Reykjavik and then Reykjavik to Amsterdam. Those two flights together cost me $495 (in airfare alone; I’ll get to the extra fees shortly).

I priced the same flights as part of a round-trip itinerary on Wow, with a stopover in Iceland on the outbound leg. Using the stopover option would have saved me about $90 on the same flights.

Those prices are airfare alone. Wow – in the model of Ryanair in Europe and Spirit and Frontier in the United States – tacks on numerous “optional” fees to its basic fare.

In addition to my basic fare, I paid $40 for a carry-on bag (a checked bag would have been $50), and $10 for an advanced seat assignment. Those same fees were somewhat less for the Reykjavik-to-Amsterdam leg: $25 for my bag and $7 for my seat assignment.

So my total Cleveland-to-Amsterdam price: $570.

Note: I bought Wow’s basic fare, which includes an unassigned seat and personal item, and then added on a carry-on bag and advanced seat assignment. Wow offers other fare categories, including Wow plus, for an extra $80, which includes a carry-on bag, checked bag and advanced seat assignment; and Wow comfy and Wow biz, which include extra legroom, meals and other amenities.

Amsterdam back to Cleveland

Booking my flight to return to Cleveland was easier, in part because I won’t be spending any time in Iceland on the trip home – but also because Icelandair operates more like a “traditional” airline (if there is such a thing these days).

I booked the airline’s “Economy light” fare, which includes a carry-on bag and advanced seat assignment, for $308. “Economy standard,” which includes a checked bag, was $85 more.

Botton line: Even if I had been able to buy the less expensive, stopover fare on Wow, the Icelandair fare still would have been cheaper. I’ll be flying home on May 16, the first inbound flight to Cleveland on Icelandair.

The 24-hour rule

After I made my purchases, I wondered: Could I change my mind?

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation began enforcing the so-called 24-hour rule, which allows travelers to cancel airline bookings within 24 hours of making a reservations (so long as that reservation is made seven or more days prior to travel).

I’ve only used the 24-hour rule once, but it gives me peace of mind every time I book a flight.

I wondered: Does it apply to flights outside of the country? Yes, according to the DOT, as long as the airline “has a website marketed to U.S. consumers,” which both Wow and Icelandair do.

Happy to say, I didn’t cancel my reservation to Reykjavik and Amsterdam. Please stay tuned for more stories about my upcoming trip.

If you go: Wow Air and Icelandair

Wow Air: Service starts May 4, and runs four days a week: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday (to Iceland) and Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (back to Cleveland). The Cleveland to Reykjavik flight leaves Cleveland at 12:30 a.m., arriving in Iceland at 10:35 a.m. The Reykjavik to Cleveland flight departs Iceland at 9 p.m., arriving in Cleveland at 11:30 p.m..

Icelandair: Service starts May 16 and runs five days a week: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The Cleveland to Reykjavik flight leaves Cleveland at 8:20 p.m., arriving in Iceland at 6:25 a.m. The Reykjavik to Cleveland flight departs Iceland at 4:50 p.m., landing in Cleveland at 7:15 p.m.