Budget Airline Review
Given we can’t always travel in style, we can try! on my last trip to San Francisco, I was able to check out a couple of the budget airlines and see what it’s all about. I have been shooting off specials for them, but haven’t any personal experience till now. Norwegian and Wow Airlines encourage people with excellent fares not to be afraid of the cost to go abroad.
Let start with Norwegian. There is no cost break to buy roundtrip tickets, so if you see a low price in one leg of your travels, grab it. I got a $169 return ticket from SFO to Paris.
At that cost I was able to bid for an upgrade. Go onto their web site after booking for instructions to do this. I bid $200 thinking that paying $369 would be a more than acceptable way to go in semi style. I was sent an update that I won the bid a few days prior to departure although I had heard it was often at the check- in counter that they spring the good news on you. Also be sure to watch the fares daily. they change often. I found the best deals late night.
The Norwegian Airlines trip I took without the upgrade wasn’t so bad. This is a pay as you go airline so be sure to order food or bring some aboard. I love the in-seat screen that allows you to order snacks but the real meals need to be pre-ordered. I had heard for years the kosher meal was the way to go, and I checked it out. Nothing special, but I was served first and they took more care to make sure I was eating healthy. They have Halal, Gluten Free, Vegetarian and yes...Vegan meals too!
The windows dim to help you shut down and get rest and the inflight entertainment was diverse including new releases and classic films, documentary and TV shows. I was very happy with the sparkling wine split that came as fast as pushing the button on the screen for the bar choices. Overall, I enjoyed the flight despite the length of time and crowded plane. They also partially allow fresh air as well which made me feel like I had less chance of getting sick.
Despite the ground crew being a bit short the rest of the crew was delightful. Check in was easy but they tend to have the farthest(cheapest) location in the airport, so be prepared to walk longer or take a shuttle to your gate.
On the return flight; the one where I was given the upgrade, I was given access to the lounge which is shared with other smaller airlines. I certainly didn’t mind the smaller lounge, it was better than the main terminal and had a complimentary bar and good fresh snacks. Hot and cold items, Hummus, Olives, Mini Pretzel Bun Sliders, Fruit and more.
On the plane I noticed the seats were definitely larger and the personal viewing system came up out of the arm rest allowing you to recline further than a standard seat. Not as comfy as other airlines, but still much better than coach. The foot rest comes up and in essence makes a lazy boy recliner.
They give you a blanket and earphones. Be sure to bring earphones for any people traveling that don't usually have them, or they will charge you for them if you travel in coach. Your standard cell phone earphones work of course.
Unfortunately this was the only part of the Premium class I was able to enjoy as there was delayed that eventually ended with the flight being cancelled. Here is where my experience can help you.
What to do if your flight is cancelled while your on the plane? Do not listen to the friendly staff telling you to get your bags at the carousel. Depart the plane and go quickly and directly to the check in counter to be assigned a hotel room. The line will be bad and your luggage will wait. They will take anyone with children first and this will make the wait even longer.
Make sure your information is correct in regards to them contacting you either by email
or text message. Do not cancel the flight when you're sent an email giving you instructions on how to do this. If you do they no longer need to get you on another flights.
Because I won the upgrade I was guaranteed another Premium flight although it would be a day later and they would take care of hotel and reimburse for meals along with transportation to and from the airport. If you are not pressured in regards to the time you get back home or to your destination, just work with them. After the flight is officially cancelled, you can call them to make arrangements for your next flight.
I may be a decent traveler but I make lots of mistakes and hopefully my experiences help you. I did cancel the ticket. I’m sure you're wondering how I could make such a mistake? I checked into the hotel at 5am and had barely an hour of sleep before an email came. Before I left the airport they said, "be sure to watch your email or texts for further instructions." I took action as the email directed assuming it was what was needed to progress the situation and was wrong. Never fear! My mistakes benefit you and you will not lay prey to the turmoil.
The next flight to France that was not sold out was a few days away with Norwegian and I decided to give WOW Airlines a try. At this point I’m fairly traumatized and willing to pay the higher fair for the better ticket and hope that prevented other issues along the way.
Realizing that the trip I booked was horrible and a hotel room in Iceland was going to be needed, I called the airlines and with having a Premium ticket they managed to make changes to my route costing me nothing. I was able to find a discounted room thru my industry family member costing me far less than anyone can imagine in San Francisco for an additional night.
When I booked the flight I automatically downloaded the App for WOW, which is not very goods. It prompts me to choose seats and pay baggage but I paid for the premium ticket that included this already. I called them back and they quickly resolve the issue no charge. They offer seats with size dimensions if you are a tall person, but they will cost close to $200.
You are able to pre order food and they have a sort of rolling cart cafe that they send thru the cabin. Buy water in the airport, because they will charge you if you not in the Premium class. about $3.75 for a small bottle. Yikes!
Since I was able to order what I wanted for free, I tried a couple things and they were just ok. The cup of noodles was probably a better bet than the sandwich. I do highly recommend the chocolate bars if your not paying, they are amazing and I ordered a couple and put them in my bag to enjoy later.
Here is the biggest tip of all. You must bring a laptop, tablet or phone and have some entertainment downloaded. There is no inflight entertainment at all. Luckily I had already downloaded a bunch or shows on my phone from Netflix and was fine, but not knowing this would have made me a very unhappy traveler.
The majority of the Wow Airline flights go thru Iceland their main HUB. This is a beautiful country and you will most likely see a rainbow. I had 1.5 hours between connecting flights and was assured it was enough time. My bag was going to be transferred directly for me and I was sent thru customs.
Since it is a small airport and I was in Premium, I was one of the first people to the customs booths and went thru much quicker than anticipated and set off to find a bloody mary, my morning airport tradition. They certainly are serious about their drinks, and after one I felt sure that I that Iceland would need to be visited again. I was able to board quickly with the other Premium passengers not having to wait in line for a fast 3 hour flight to Paris.
Because I had already gone thru customs in Iceland I didn't need to go thru it again in Paris where the lines can easily take over an hour. Another perk to the layover! It did add an additional 2 hours to my total travel time, so you have to weigh whats important.
Overall, despite the canceled flight and my mistakes in the rebooking, I prefer Norwegian. I think Wow is going to improve with time and still is a great option if you want to save money. As long as you know what your getting into.I'm already planning my next trip with Norwegian and hope my experiences help you in getting that ticket to come visit. Bon Voyage!