Ever dreamed of leaving the sunny shores of The Golden State for the snow-blown vistas of Iceland but thought you couldn’t afford it? Sounds like most of us. But one airline, appropriately called WOW, is about to make your dreams of visiting the land that brought us Björk a reality. They’re selling tickets to Reykjavik for less than it costs to spend a night out on the town. (And for another cool hundo, you can travel all around Europe.)
How can WOW afford all this? According to an interview with the airline’s founder and CEO, Skúli Mogensen, it’s because the airline has few overhead costs. There’s no true marketing, no multi-office setup, and no “middle man” for customers to haggle with. Those have all been cut out in order to give clients the cheapest and most expedient flights to Europe. Sure, you have to pay for the food (and anything else you might need, like extra baggage), but Morgensen assures Yahoo! Travel that anyone comparing WOW’s food to those of a traditional airline will be surprised to find that the quality is “much better.”
Right now, travelers can take off from San Francisco or Los Angeles and take the nine-hour flight to Reykjavik for $99. That is, if they’re brave enough. WOW’s planes may be a friendly purple color, but Morgensen is a shrewd businessman who isn’t just here to offer you creature comforts. The CEO knows a thing or two about making millions–he retired young after selling a tech company–and agrees that even though WOW’s fleet is painted “the color of royalty,” you’re still traveling on a budget airline halfway across the world.
But the flight from California to Iceland is about nine hours. How comfortable can that be on a budget carrier?
We are using brand-new wide-body Airbus A330s with a 340 seat configuration. A hundred seats have a 34-inch pitch, which is far greater than the average low-cost airline, and we sell those seats for a reasonable fee. Even the regular seats are not as jammed as on a Ryan or Spirit.
That might be a small comfort, considering how reviled both Ryanair and Spirit have been when it comes to customer service. But then, even the bigger airlines, such as American, have been accused of not really caring, so you may as well take your chances. Plus, it sounds like WOW really does want the customer to be happy.
Is there anything different about Icelandic hospitality on your planes?
We have worked hard on that. It sounds simple, but we emphasize friendly service with a smile. We have actresses and actors as crew members, and we use them to train our staff. It seems so obvious to us to have a staff that makes that extra effort to be nice, and it doesn’t cost us anything. But airlines still get that wrong all the time.
(Via Yahoo! Travel)