Wow Airlines is launching their newest US gateway city in July, Chicago – O’hare. This is their 7th US gateway after announcing new service from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Budget carriers, like Wow, charge for many of the extras such as seat assignment, meals, and baggage. They refer to these as “optional fees”, although many would argue that those items are essential for international travel. I flew on Wow Airlines last year and had a good experience, avoiding ALL extra fees. Since my flight in 2016, they have unfortunately limited the free carry-on baggage to a single piece weighing no more than 22lbs. (max dimensions: 17″ X 13″ X 10″)
That said, you can score a one-way from Chicago to Reykjavik, Iceland for $99 in September. (on Wednesdays)
Icelandair also operates this ORD-KEF route, with one-way flights hovering around the $300 range. With Icelandair being a “full service” carrier, you won’t be shelling out extra for checked baggage and drinks. The in-flight experience will also be superior on Icelandair as you have access to seat-back entertainment with WiFi available for purchase. Icelandair also allows stopovers in Iceland if you are traveling to mainland Europe, a nice perk.
If you can pack lightly and bring your own snacks and drinks, it is hard to beat the $99 one-way price point on Wow Air. Note that return flights are noticeably more expensive as you are paying for departure and customs fees. ($215 return from KEF to ORD)
Beyond to Europe
Wow Air will connect you via Reykjavik to many European cities, 29 in total. You can book a round-trip from Chicago to either Frankfurt or Paris for as little as $315 round-trip in September.
Baggage can be excessive if you don’t pay close attention. A checked bag on your flight from Chicago to Reykjavik will run you $49 for up to 44lbs ($69 if you travel to mainland Europe). If you want to carry-on a larger bag, you are looking at $39 for 26lb allowance and max dimension of: 22 x 18 x 10 ($49 if traveling to mainland Europe). If you wait until the airport check-in counter to pay the prices increase significantly, so try to make your decision at time of ticket purchase.
I recommend, if traveling with a partner, sharing a checked bag. That means you will each be allowed 22lbs of free “personal item” carry-on in addition to splitting the 44lbs of checked allowance, 22lbs a piece. That gives each person a total of 44lbs at only $25 each direction if flying to Iceland. ($35 per person if traveling to mainland Europe). Yes, the baggage and seat assignment fees, starting at $9, are EACH direction, not round-trip.