A WOW Air Review – Get the Lowdown

standard April 20, 2017 1 response

Please note: I am writing this WOW Air Review of my own volition after having experienced WOW Air at my own expense. 

WOW Air Review

A few weeks ago I got a call from my sister at 7 am that had me sitting at my computer 5 minutes later googling flights to Paris. From San Francisco. Leaving that morning.

Crazy, right?

Well, turns out, not so much. In fact, that’s how my love affair with WOW Air began.

I hadn’t even heard about Wow until that day. And yet, moments later I was booking a flight and getting ready to pack my bags.

Cost of the round-trip flight? Just under $500.

That’s right. I booked a transatlantic flight three hours before take-off and paid less than $500.

I have to admit that I didn’t waste much time questioning my luck. I booked, and hustled. In less than three hours I had to make childcare plans, prep school lunches, and pack a bag. It wasn’t until I was sitting at the gate that I paused to wonder if I’d gotten myself into a situation I was going to regret.

It’s one thing to fly a cut-rate airline when you’re going just a state or two away. It’s a whole other ballpark when you’re going to be traveling to the other side of the world and it’s going to take the better part of two days. That said, I didn’t exactly have a choice. Time was of the essence and I really didn’t relish the thought of shelling out $2k to fly a more “traditional” airline.

Turns out, I worried for nothing. Suffice it to say, I was so delighted with my WOW Air experience that I have since taken my whole family back to France with meWOW Air flights all the way!

I heard from a friend yesterday that it was hard to find a legitimate WOW Air review, so I’m sharing my experience with you all in case you’re intrigued by these ridiculously low prices and are worried you’ll be flapping your arms all the way to Europe.

The WOW Air Review: what to expect when flying WOW Air

1 – You get what you pay for

Everything on WOW Air has a price, from whether you can choose your seats to how much luggage you can bring with you. The price you see is the bare bottom price. Seat + personal item (aka purse or backpack). You can pay for each carry-on or suitcase, or you can “upgrade” to the other two fare levels (Plus or Biz to include the price of luggage etc.)  The four of us just flew to Paris and I purchased two “basic” seats and two “pro” seats so that we could bring two suitcases and two carry-on bags. It was perfect. (I did have to purchase my tickets in two different orders because I couldn’t select two different price points. I have a feeling this is a glitch that will be eventually addressed.)

You can purchase food and beverages on board for about the same price as on every other flight. (Pizza or sandwich for about $9.) Food was very adequate. Nothing is free. Not even water. They take all major credit cards. No cash.

2 – No TV screens or music

WOW Air is pretty minimalist, so no screens on the backs of the seats or music playing from your armrest. That said, you can rent iPad minis on board that come pre-loaded with a bunch of movies and games for $16. Considering the fact that on other airlines you sometimes have to pay $8/movie, it’s a deal and a half. Good movies too. With a few that are kid appropriate. Oddly enough, they seem to be partial to Benedict Cumberbatch movies, but who isn’t?

So far all WOW Air planes I have flown have had outlets at each seat, so no worries about running out of juice.

3 – Great staff

So far I have been delighted with the WOW Air staff, both at the airport and on the planes. They’re helpful, gracious, and polite. Way more so than some airlines I won’t mention. Plus, they wear uniforms that hail from the 1950’s and it’s beyond charming.

4 – They don’t mess around with carry-on luggage size

Every bag is carefully assessed when you’re checking in. Small “personal” items are tagged to go under the seat. Bigger items for the overhead compartment can be paid for, but must also meet weight and size restrictions. You will not be able to skate. If your bag doesn’t fit the bag sizer it will not go on with you. End of story. If your back-pack is too big, they will charge you. There’s something kind of nice about this no-nonsense approach to the whole thing. Maybe it’s my European blood, but I like a good rule enforcement.

5 – No boarding groups or such shenanigans

WOW Air boards planes on a first come first serve basis. (Except for families and people with special needs who are invited to board first.) They start boarding almost an hour before the flight takes off and, because they’re so strict about the carry-on situation there’s none of the usual overhead luggage drama that can sometimes make boarding so damn stressful.

6 – No first class – everyone in the same boat…er…plane

WOW Air considers all customers to be equal. So, good news, you can totally use the bathroom at the front of the plane! Need a bigger seat? You guessed it, you can buy one. Want to sit closer to the front of the plane? That’s right, you can buy that too.  Need extra leg room? Need I say it? Seat options can be found here.

7 – Iceland? Yes.

Every WOW Air flight lays-over in Reykjavík, Iceland. The Keflavík International Airport is small and somewhat reminiscent of a freshly built Ikea. There are limited options for food, but you can definitely find a couple sandwich options. There’s also a well stocked Duty Free store where you can purchase some Icelandic knits and stuffed puffins along with your booze and chocolates.

 

So, to recap, WOW Air is a minimalist airline that believes in only making people pay for exactly what they want. The seats aren’t overly plush, the offerings aren’t overly abundant, but for an incredibly reasonable price, you can fly to and from Europe quite comfortably.

Would I fly WOW Air again? I already have and am planning on doing so again soon.

Would I recommend WOW Air to a friend? Already have. And now I’m recommending it to you.

WOW Air Review

Please note: I was in no way compensated for this review. I am writing this of my own volition after having experienced WOW Air at my own expense. 

 

 

Our first trip to Disneyland wasn’t the milestone I expected it to be

standard August 13, 2014 2 responses

Last week, for the first time ever, the four of us went on a vacation that didn’t involve a family event or holiday. Just us, going away, for the sole purpose of relaxing as a family.

Novel, right?

In an effort to make the trip a roaring success I might have gone a little overboard in the planning process, thinking out the week with almost military precision, worrying about every choice I made, hoping against hope that the whole trip would be such a roaring success that a summer family vacation would become an annual tradition rather than that one thing we did the summer the kids were 7 and 9.

Please note, as far as I can recall, my family went on exactly two family vacations and both were when I was a teen. My concern wasn’t born out of nothing.

First I researched the heck out of our options, toying at length with the idea of renting a cabin by a lake for the week. Then I pondered whether the girls were old enough to enjoy a cruise. The first option basically meant I’d be cooking, cleaning, and catering to the family, just in a different locale. The second option meant that someone else would be cooking, cleaning, and catering to the family all while I relaxed in a deck chair.

Guess which option won.

The cruise I picked left from Los Angeles (Long Beach really, but who’s quibbling?) on a Monday afternoon, leaving me a whole weekend to play with.

Los Angeles Road Sign

And play with it we did!

Because what could be better than taking your kids on a four day cruise to Mexico?

A first trip to Disneyland the day before! That’s what!

Disneyland Ferris wheel

We drove down to LA on Saturday, taking our sweet time and enjoying the road trip.

The road to L.A. is beautiful in spots.

The road to L.A. is beautiful in spots.

Then, Sunday we got up at the crack of dawn and, with a little bit of trepidation, made our way to the happiest place on earth.

Why trepidation? Well, it has something to do with the reasons that caused us to wait so long to take the girls to Disneyland for the first time.

Reason one? Neither girl is very fond of characters in costume. C even has a bit of a phobia about it. Had we taken this trip any sooner, I’m pretty sure it would have ended with us having to leave the park, each carrying a hysterical child. At 7 and 9 I figured they could manage somewhat, especially after I learned that, unlike at Euro Disney, here the characters tend to stand in one spot and let the kids come to them. Much better than suddenly finding yourself walking hand in hand with Tweedle Dee instead of your best friend. (Why yes, when it happened that one time, it did startle me, making Tweedle Dum laugh rather uproariously.)

Big Green Men. More terrifying than Little Green Men.

Big Green Men. More terrifying than Little Green Men.

Reason two? We were heading to Disneyland on one of the busiest days of the year, in the middle of a heat wave. I worried it would be crazy crowded and hot.

No shortage of people here! Or of heat...

No shortage of people here! Or of heat…

Reason three? Until this summer, I honestly didn’t think M would have enough energy to navigate Disneyland. I mean, the man has been known to fall asleep standing up in the middle of Costco because the noise and people are so overwhelming. In that regard and knowing what he’s gone through the last three years, Disneyland seemed dauntingly overwhelming and I worried he’d have a horrible time.  I also worried that I’d be bouncing around the parks with two kids while he napped in the car or on a bench. None of which sounded appealing. Thus the trepidation.

You can rest in line while waiting for rides as it turns out!

You can rest in line while waiting for rides as it turns out!

I needn’t have worried.

About any of it.

We arrived moments after the gates opened and, firm plan in hand about which rides we’d try to score Fast Passes for first, headed off into the park.

I have to admit I might have shed a tear or two at finally seeing my kids in an iconic place I never thought we’d see as a family.

Disneyland arrival

We did it all. OK, almost all. In the 12 hours that we spent bouncing from Disneyland to California Adventures and back we hit most of the key rides, had two low key meals, saw a couple 3D movies, visited almost every gift shop, and had an all around blast. Yes, it was hot. Yes, there were a lot of people there. No, neither thing dampened our fun in the least.

Flying high!

Flying high!

At 8pm, one last Fast Pass in hand, we debated whether to stick around another 45 minutes to ride Radiator Springs, the popular new Cars racing attraction, or to call it quits on the fun and head home.

Look! We hugged Stanley. We can go now!

Look! We hugged Stanley. We can go now!

The kids, exhausted and utterly spent, begged us to leave. The husband, equally exhausted, begged us to stay. He just couldn’t get enough.

Reason prevailed and we gifted our fast passes to a family who was preparing to wait an hour and a half in line and headed out, knowing full well that this was only the first of our Disneyland trips, not the only. Next time we’ll make a real vacation of it, staying in a Disneyland Resort hotel, taking our time to savor each park and all they have to offer.

I know that Disneyland is a magical place, but I’d forgotten what it was like to see the magic in action. Watching my husband act like a kid, enjoying his day out with the actual kids, laughing, bouncing around, loving every minute of his day despite his mounting exhaustion, was more than I had ever dared hope would happen again. A lot of this summer has been about reclaiming the lives I feared we’d lost forever. Disneyland was yet another stop on the road to normalcy. A truly magical one; not half bad for a first time.

DSC_0284

You can see more photos of our fun day at Disneyland here.

As for the cruise we headed out on the following day? That’s a whole other story which I’ll be telling in a day or two. 

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Please note: M and I were graciously granted press pass park hopper tickets to the Disneyland Resort. I paid for the children’s passes and everything else. Everything experienced and expressed is based on my thoughts and opinions and in no way dictated by Disney. 

A lesson learned and a passion born

standard October 14, 2013 2 responses

 
The first session was on DSLR basics, something I desperately wanted to master. The SONY rep showed off her treasures as she lectured on shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

“But, you know, it’s perfectly ok to shoot in the auto or pro-auto modes. Lots of people do.”

I looked at the dial on my camera and groaned internally. What was it so hard to grasp what seemed to be some rather basic rules? Why was I utterly unable to internalize what I’d been taught so many times? I had zero desire to stay in auto mode. Might as well stick to phone photography if I did.

The next session, run by Me Ra Koh, who I absolutely adore, a last minute add-on in honor of the weather trapping us indoors, was all about shooting inside with the help of natural light.

Me Ra Koh

“No automatic, people! You can do this!” the second instructor urged as she explained that shutter speed, aperture, and ISO were like a tripod. Figure out two of the settings and you’re free to play around with the third. No need to adjust each one every time.

“Always start with the ISO. It’s the easiest. Low light; low ISO. Lots of light; high ISO.”

AHA! A hard and fast rule. One that I could use! Momentous moment! One I clutched at as a lifeline out of the confusion in my head.

“Photographers aren’t magicians, we’re just light experts.”

Suddenly it all started to really click. Three tools for controlling the light. Understand how and you can take all the photos you want.

That night, camera clutched tight in my hand, glimmer of success in my eye, I headed to a night photography session.

Gotta love having to use your phone as a flashlight to look at your camera settings.

“OK people, it’s really dark, so start by cranking your ISO as high as possible.”

I just blinked at the teacher.

“You mean low, right?”

“No, no. That’s just how Me Ra shoots, the rest of us do the opposite.”

Part of me almost gave up right then and there. A million pieces of conflicting advice received over the years was the reason I was still utterly confused and painfully stuck in Auto mode. Another part of me rejoiced. I took a deep breath and accepted her comment as the gift it had unintentionally been.

Click!

Turns out there is no “right” way to take pictures. There are just a bunch of suggested guidelines. When people say “you have to play with it.” (Which they do, inevitably after you ask your third, but why? But how? Question.) they don’t mean “just go away, I’m too busy to teach you,” or “oh, just give up now, if you don’t get it yet, it’s because you’re hopeless and I’m done wasting my time.”No, they’re really saying “these are suggestions, but really, go play, because what works for me might not be what works for you.”

It was, without a doubt, the most freeing thing I could have learned.

Too cheesy? Sorry.

If there is no “right” way to shoot, then that means there is no “wrong” way either. I can’t get it wrong.

I popped out of bed at 6:30am the next morning (3:30 ‘my’ time.) and grabbed my camera for some early sunrise photography. I stood there, smile on my face, mist turning my hair into an insane curly mop, not a hint of sun peeking through the cloud cover, and had a blast.

6:30 in the fog

I held my tripod image in my head, messed with the ISO, with the aperture, with the shutter speed, until I found a look and feel that I liked. And then I just played around with composition to my heart’s utter content.

Photographers in the sand

In the end it’s not unlike writing. In one you have a camera, a means of capturing light, and the guidelines for how to do so, but you’re the artist with the vision. In the other you have various pens and paper options, a means of capturing words, and a long series of guidelines for how to do so (aka grammatical rules). In both cases it’s up to you, the writer, the photographer, the artist, to find the combination that allows your voice to shine. Once you find the right “settings” your voice can sing.

I learned all of this while attending Click Blogger Retreat in the Outer Banks of North Carolina this past week.  I took a million photos (well, ok, a thousand), had an amazing time, and came home heart over heels in love with my camera and photography. Endless thanks to the amazing sponsors who made it all possible: Southwest Airlines, HP, Snapfish, Sony, Avery, National Geographic Kids, KIND, The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, Carolina Designs Reality, SAGA Construction & Development, and epiphanie bags and to the incredible staff at Today’s Mama who pulled off the magic.

A Week in the Mountains: Wordless Wednesday

standard August 1, 2012 2 responses

A mere 5 hours away from our home lies an incredible lake. We hadn’t been for the last two years. I’m glad we went.

Knee deep water forever. Kid heaven.

Chairlift to the top!

Still room for silly

And for sisterly love

Beauty as far as the eye can see.

Ok, ok, I’ll spare you the other 150 pictures I took. Check out everyone else’s Wordless Wednesday though!