It was only a matter of time for the struggling, ultra-low-cost Icelandic airline. WOW air started notifying passengers Thursday morning that some of their flights from the U.S. to Iceland are canceled beginning in late January.
The writing has been on the wall for weeks. As it buys time for a potential takeover bid to come through, WOW air said last month it would start cutting routes sometime in January. But the airline didn't spell out which routes would be on the chopping block.
But passengers are starting to get word, and it's not pretty. Reader Jordan tipped us off that his round-trip flight from Chicago-O'Hare to Reykjavik (KEF) and onward to Europe on Jan. 24 had been canceled. The notification came early Thursday morning.
WOW air flights from ORD to Iceland are no longer bookable online after Jan. 22. We've also heard from readers that flights in and out of Los Angeles (LAX) have been canceled. That's not a surprise, as the airline has sold off the only planes it owns capable of making that long flight. Just as with Chicago, flights out of LAX appear to end beginning Jan. 22.
It also appears that WOW air is completely scrapping service from Orlando (MCO) later this month – a route it had previously planned to fly seasonally a few times a week in April. That would leave WOW air service from just a handful of airports on the East Coast: Boston (BOS), Newark (EWR), and Baltimore (BWI). WOW air is also still selling flight from Montreal (YUL) and Toronto (YYZ).
So what are your options if you're on a canceled flight? Each email directs canceled passengers to this page, where they can choose how to proceed. You can request to be rebooked on a flight that will continue service, but clearly those options are limited.
You can also simply cancel the flight and get a full refund. But WOW air is also tempting canceled passengers to instead pick a WOW air gift card with a full refund plus an extra 25% of the ticket cost. The airline calls it a “generous gift certificate.”
Given the airline's financial struggles and shrinking route network, that's a poor option. There's no guarantee you'll be able to use those gift cards a few months from now. It also reeks of a desperate move by the airline to hang onto more money, which it obviously needs.
It's incredible how fast WOW air has dwindled. It quickly emerged as one of the largest – and cheapest – airlines crossing the Atlantic Ocean, with flights from more than a dozen North American cities to Iceland and onward throughout Europe. Here's a short list of flights that have been canceled within the last few months alone:
- Chicago-O'Hare (ORD)
- Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)
- Orlando (MCO)
- New York City-JFK (JFK)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Vancouver (YVR)
- St. Louis (STL)
- Cleveland (CVG)
- Cincinnati (CIN)
- Pittsburgh (PIT)
If you're on a canceled flight, choose your options wisely. Only time will tell if WOW air can survive long enough for Indigo Partners to right the ship.