For almost the last month I have been in America enjoying the end of my University life and taking a very long break from the real world to visit friends and walk along The Golden Gate Bridge. I had this planned for just over a month before I travelled, hunting the Internet for the cheapest flight prices that I could to save myself money owing of course to spending the last part of my student grant to get myself out here.
I was impressed to have found flights for £505, booking them immediately. I was smug talking to my friends believing that I had a great deal and that I had done better than everyone else who needed to fly long-haul.
I was wrong.
It got close to the time that I was going to fly and I went to start sorting out my APIS information and ESTA. I suddenly noticed that the hand luggage allowance was only 5kg. For anyone that doesn’t know, an average carry on case is likely to take up about half of this, leaving you about 2kg left if that. Flying long-haul it’s likely you’ll be taking clothes with you and all of the assorted things you’d need even as a light traveller such as I am. This is when I noticed that to give you a proper luggage allowance you would need to pay approximately 25. This awards with you the heady amount of 12kg.
Updated flight price: £530
This made me begin to look at what my flight DIDN’T include. I hadn’t thought that this would even be something I would have to do but I began to look around. To my dismay for such a long flight there was no food. I knew that there was no entertainment but this was ok as I have my own 3DS and iPhone with which to amuse myself but food was an added extra. When I was on the connecting flight to Iceland I had already eaten and had something to drink so I did fine but on my final flight to San Francisco I got thirsty but had my own water bottle. No, no free water. You have to pay for that. On a short hop around Europe it doesn’t really matter but on a long-haul flight that really shouldn’t be a thing. I had no choice but to buy food and water onboard.
Updated flight price: £550
Now that I have been in San Francisco it’s time to unfortunately go home to London. As you do on every holiday you eventually run out the currency you have, like you’re meant to. I’ve had an amazing holiday and have loved every second of it. Now I have to go and pay again for the extra hand luggage allowance (British Airways gives you 23kg per bag) but as my client has yet to settle their bills, I am unable to pay it. This provides a problem as my bag weighs the same as when I left for San Francisco.
Updated flight price: £575
I called WOW Air customer service which took over 20 minutes to be answered. Their automated line tries to be humorous but comes across as rude saying every minute or so “Oh, you’re still here. Go and check our FAQ’s on our website”. I got through to the operator and explained the predicament. Although he was apologetic he said he couldn’t waive the fee so that I could go home with my belongings. Rather than becoming angry I just gave up, thanked him, and put the phone down. The fact that sponging a tiny bit of money from me so I can take my bag home angers me.
This is where we currently are. The WOW Air website often breaks and trying to get it to do things you want it to is often an exercise is annoyance and frustration. I had considered extending my trip but the site was so unusable and apparently being used to much I gave up. The website had said that it would be $50 to change the flight but whomever manages the Twitter says it’s $89 instead including the flight difference. Dealing with WOW is absolutely frustrating to the point of great irritation.
What should not be forgotten though is that flying with WOW Air on long-haul is not a money saver. To make your flight near usable it will likely cost you above the cost of a traditional long-haul carrier. For example I have an alert on my phone for flight prices in October so that I can come back and celebrate my birthday with friends. British Airways are currently offering a return ticket for £575.
It’s better to fly with an established long-haul carrier that provides you food, luggage allowance, and water than be taken in by a scam that ends up hitting your wallet harder than you think it will. It’s just like removing parts from a car that will just about run without them but be awful, then trying to sell back the steering wheel, roof, and seats, to make it a proper car again.
WOW, you’re fine for short-haul but long-haul isn’t done the way you’re doing it. I wish I was flying by any other airline, not one that puts its hands in your back pockets and sneaks money out.
PR degree graduate looking for work in media who happens to write, broadcast on the radio, and has a penchant for memes. Writing is a passion and something I have done semi-professional for many years, writing at times for a well known gaming online publication focusing on EVE Online. Quite possibly a nerd.