European Discount Carrier WOW Expanding In U.S. With More Cheap Flights

Midwesterners will soon have more options when it comes to cheap flights across the pond: Discount carrier WOW — known in Europe for its super low fares — will be expanding to four more U.S. cities, offering roundtrip fares as low as $99 for a one-way ticket.

Icelandic airline WOW Air will be adding service from four more U.S. cities this spring, expanding its current American network to 12 airports, the company announced.

Coming soon

Travelers flying out of St. Louis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Detroit will be able to snag flights to Iceland starting at $99.99 one way, with connecting flights to the airline’s other two dozen European destinations starting at $149.99.

Tickets are already on sale, but the flights won’t start until 2018: WOW’s Detroit service starts April 26, Cleveland on May 4, Cincinnati on May 10, and St. Louis on May 17.

Each route will have four flights per week to Keflavik airport near Reykjavik on a single-aisle Airbus A321.

As for whether folks will bite on these new fares, WOW’s founder and CEO Skúli Mogensen sees opportunity in serving the Midwest, saying it’s an underserved area. If there are cheaper flights, perhaps people who otherwise wouldn’t take a trip to Europe will do so.

“With those kind of prices, we have seen in other markets that we enter that we have stimulated the market significantly,” he told USA Today, which could spark other carriers to offer low-cost transatlantic flights.

These new Midwest additions will join WOW’s current roster of U.S. cities it serves: Baltimore, Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco.

Low-budget is big business

WOW isn’t the only budget carrier from Europe to head to our shores in search of customers, of course. Its home country rival Icelandair also announced flights from Cleveland to Reyjavik this week.

Air France — which already has low-cost carriers Hop and Transavia in Europe — has plans for a new no-frills airline serving U.S. cities this year.

Norwegian Air also recently started offering $65 one-way tickets to Europe out of smaller, regional airports in the U.S., while Lufthansa and British Airways both operate discount airlines in Asia and North America.

Whether it’s a foreign airline or a domestic name like Southwest and Spirit, low-cost carriers are driving down prices across the industry, reports The Wall Street Journal, and in turn, inspiring more people to travel who may not have otherwise.

In 2016, budget airlines carried more than one billion flyers for the first time ever, nabbing about 30% of total air travelers, notes the WSJ. We’re still a bit behind here in the U.S., where about one in three passengers flies on a discount airline. In Indian and Southeast Asian markets, 53% of seats are controlled by cheaper brands.