3 Links I Love – WOW air Gets Big, US Airways was Safe, and Porter’s Jet Plans Are In Trouble

Links I Love, US Airways

Today’s featured link:

WOW air to ADD Los Angeles and San Francisco ROUTES in 2016WOW air
I was onboard with WOW air’s strategy of using narrowbodies to connect the US and Europe via Iceland. But now I can only wonder if it’s jumped the shark. The airline is picking up A330-300s to fly to LA and San Francisco. That’s a big change in strategy, and it seems ill-advised. There are still a ton of opportunities using smaller aircraft on shorter routes. This just adds complexity and a LOT of seats.

Links I Love

Two for the road:

US Airways leaves in triumph on key measureCharlotte Observer
An interesting look back on US Airways as a safe airline. Generally, people think of USAir as being unsafe considering how many crashes it had in the early 1990s. But things changed a lot since then, and now at least one person is looking back on the airline as being extremely safety-minded.

Liberals say no to Porter Airlines jets at Billy Bishop AirportMetro Canada
The new Canadian government doesn’t seem too interested in letting Porter fly C-Series aircraft from Toronto’s close-in Billy Bishop airport.

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18 comments on “3 Links I Love – WOW air Gets Big, US Airways was Safe, and Porter’s Jet Plans Are In Trouble

  1. “Ultra-low-cost long haul”? Again? I’ve seen this movie and it doesn’t end well.

    I agree with you, Brett, I don’t understand making runs to LAX and SFO and adding another aircraft type so soon. If you are really going for the leisure market, and targeting Brits on holiday, there are a lot of other destinations on the East Coast that I would look to add first… Orlando, Tampa, and other FL destinations would be the first ones that come to mind (they might be a little close to the max range for the 320/321 from Iceland, but FL is popular with the Brits), plus maybe NYC or Philly.

  2. I don’t think I would want to go cross continent with a 30″ pitch – my knees ache just thinking about it.

  3. I heard about the WOW announcement earlier this week and scratched my head as well. Seems to me if they wanted to add destinations with more range from KEF they should’ve taken note from their in-town competition and picked up a couple 757’s on the second hand market. Going with a brand new A330 sounds like a risky gamble…and going into major markets like LAX and SFO that already have lots of direct flights to European destinations at that.

    I’ve flown Icelandair a few times and primarily because the layover in KEF is nicer than doing a short hop to an east coast gateway and then getting on a long flight there. Now if I were flying into LHR or CDG or AMS…well I’d take the direct flight option even if it cost a few bucks more.

    1. But it nots just a few bucks more. In the same way Gulf carriers make the best use of their hubs as a connecting point and gaining efficiencies, WOW Air is doing the same thing, and it is not immediately clear why this wouldn’t be successful considering the success both Icelandic carriers are having as low cost trans-Atlantic carriers. There is no reason to believe that Icelandic carriers (as well as Finnair’s similar position as an asian connection for Europe) can’t be equally successful.

  4. I am SFO based and I can’t wait for WOW air. I can go to Asia r/t for ~$600-750. I can’t go to Europe for less then $1100. Norwegian is trying from OAK, but it’s not daily and connections are limited.

    If WOW can get me to London or Paris for around $700, suddenly a (long) weekend in France becomes possible.

  5. Just completed a trip two days ago on WOW doing BWI-KEF and back. I was very hesitant to try them out, mostly because I’m not a fan of the ULCC model where they charge your for everything. We ended up paying ahead of time for a checked bag, and seat assignments. All said and done, it was roughly $300 pp round trip. Iceland air was selling for roughly $600 pp round trip on the same dates.

    I don’t have any major complaints with the airline or the policies, but it was because I expected to be charged for everything ahead of time and so my expectations were accurately set. I however probably would opt not to fly them again, and its mostly because of the headache of trying to get my weight down for things like my personal item. There was a weight limit of I want to say 11kg for your carry-on item, and I found myself having to find a way to protect/pad and check things like a laptop, and even a camera lens to keep my weight down. Sure I could have paid another $38 to be allowed up to 25 pounds of carry-on luggage, but I was already paying for checked luggage. I know even after paying the $38 it would have been cheaper than Iceland air, but it goes with the whole nickle and dime philosophy that I just don’t care for.

    Additionally, their seat pitch wasn’t super terrible, but it was cramped enough that I was slightly uncomfortable during the trip. There also was no in flight entertainment, but they did at least have 2 power outlets per set of 3 seats.

    Check in also kind of bugged me. There is no online check in because they want to weigh your bags during check in. For us, it was annoying because we might have tried to consolidate so that we wouldn’t have to check a bag. I mention this because we actually flew across the country to make our BWI flight on a standby pass (wife works for an airline), and when we got to BWI we had to leave security to check our bags. I found out that you had to leave airside to get to the international gates, but I didn’t realize that at the time, and in many airports that’s not necessary. Had our flight to BWI been tighter it could have made things difficult when trying to time our connecting flight on WOW.

    Finally, I do question their desire to expand right now. I understand my experience may not have been the norm, but both flights were fairly open. I would guess both flights were 60% full. I have no idea what their PRASM/Yield/whatever is on these routes, but generally you aren’t going to be making money on a 60% full aircraft.

    TL/DR: WOW created more stress and inconvenience than I like, and i’m probably willing to pay for that flying someone like Iceland Air instead.

    1. Interesting regarding your comments that the flights were 60% full. They actually moved the start of the service up because of very strong demand. BWI is my home airport so I will probably give WOW a try at some point.

      Condor also flies from BWI and other American airports to Germany and they seem to have a similar model. Has anyone ever flown that airline? If so, please provide a review.

      But back to WOW, I would’ve thought they’d try east of the Mississippi airports with limited flights to Europe…places like Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Cleveland, Cincy, before LA and SF.

    2. Thank you for the review! I live in the Baltimore area, actually I passed by the airport every day on the way to work. I’ve been wanting to try WoW air but even with the fare sales I never seem to find a good deal, especially when you add in the cost of the extras which are much higher then you typically find on an airline. Also when I check into the airfare sales they never seem to be that good on the days I can travel. For me it’s worth the hour plus drive to Dulles to do Icelandair when all is said and done.

      They are not the only ones to really limit the weight of carry on bags. Air Canada is only 22 pounds although most people go over.

      I’m actually kind of hoping that Norwegian airways might try doing long haul from Baltimore all the way across the Atlantic using narrow body planes. That’s a few years away though as they need the max to do it. I think Baltimore is just a little bit too far away to do anything other then some places in Ireland

      1. Please do not drive to Dulles for a flight to Iceland. International traffic is growing at BWI but we certainly could use more. Let’s fill up the routes that we currently have.

  6. Brett:

    I’m flying Porter for the first time in two weeks. Could not resist the ability to walk to the airport from Downtown Toronto. Tho I was told that it’s winter in Canada and walking may sound more glamorous than it is in reality.

    Will send you a trip report.

  7. I do not understand why the new government does not want to support local aircraft manufacturer Bombardier by allowing its new-technology jets to land at Billy Bishop Airport. In addition, why does the local Toronto business community not support greater use of this airport? For those of us in the northeast U.S., flying to Toronto is a pain if you have to use Pearson airport. There is a new train service to downtown, but it takes time and costs about $27. We can spend more time getting to our hotel than in the air. What is the basis of the opposition to full utilization of Billy Bishop Airport?
    PS: Who is Billy Bishop?

    1. Ed, the issue involves a philosophy regarding the use of the lake. There has been a huge boom in condo development along the lake and many downtown residents don’t want it. They think that jets are noisier and pollute more. In addition, the C-Series needs an extension to the runway for a safety margin. Given the airport is on an island, that means landfill and extending the exclusion zone for boats.
      And Billy Bishop was a WWI flying ace. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Bishop

  8. we did not start flying much until about 1998… we flew solely with America West.. since our initial flight, with the merger with US Airways, we have had nothing but pleasant and safe flights.. as a disclosure , since 2003 we have flown an average of 20 legs each tear, all on US Airways and, recently, American Airlines… so far, I like US Airways better ( for a variety of reasons)

  9. Anyone want to buy 30,000 shares in Bom-C Series stock cheap? I paid average USD 1.55….


  10. The article on US’ safety record was really good. I was an operations manager for United for 8 yrs followed by 3 yrs at US; the safety culture at United was laughable compared to US. It’s not just pilot skill that kept the airline safe, though. Aircraft ground damages are generally caused by airport operations (ground) workers or vendors; at US the staff did a great job avoiding them. There was an internal memo sent to us in 2012 that ranked airlines on the number of aircraft ground damages – US had the least (best); Delta had the most (worst). Wish I had saved a copy.

  11. I wish Porter complete success. I’ve flown them a few times from MDW and couldn’t be more pleased with the equipment, the crew, and the experience of flying into Billy Bishop. I personally would be in support of a runway extension but, if it isn’t allowed, I hope they can continue to make the existing model work. Porter is a refreshing chance to UA, AA, and the Canadian big guys.

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