ICYMI, WOW Air made headlines this weekend after it abruptly ceased operations and left many passengers stranded abroad. The final blow came after a long bout of financial struggles; unable to secure critical deals and funding to stop the bleeding, it effectively went kaput.
In terms of what all of this means moving forward, WOW’s fate could be telling for the future of budget airlines altogether. In the meantime, Iceland’s economy could take a significant hit from the fallout, not to mention the hundreds of layoffs the airline’s failure has caused. (There’s also the issue of what happens to passengers who’ve purchased tickets for flights which no longer exist.)
It is indeed a terrible situation, and I genuinely feel for anyone who’s been negatively impacted by these unfortunate events. That being said, I’m not here to talk about the doom and gloom. (So if that is what you came for, you should probably stop reading.)
I’m here to talk about the happy times. The ones where you could crack open a 2-for-1 can of Gull and gaze out the window over the convergence of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, peacefully pondering the meaning of life thanks to the absence of virtually any in-flight entertainment, occasionally pausing to shove a handful of Nóa Kropp into your mouth.
Of course, a lot of people complained about WOW Air’s amenities, or total lack thereof. They also didn’t like the idea of being allowed just one carry-on item, and having to pay extra for luggage that exceeded the size of a backpack. There were a lot of things to nitpick about. I didn’t mind any of it, though, because Jesus fucking Christ, YOU ARE FLYING TO EUROPE FOR LIKE $300 ROUND TRIP. GET YOUR PRIORITIES IN ORDER!
If WOW’s prices hadn’t been so staggeringly low, I 100% would not have decided to visit Reykjavik for Iceland Airwaves in November 2015.
And if I hadn’t have decided to visit Reykjavik for Iceland Airwaves in November 2015, I…:
…would not have met my now good friend Erin while we were both waiting to board WOW 118 from BWI to KEF at the airport bar.
…would not have seen the Northern Lights in the backyard of my Airbnb on the very first night I arrived.
…would not have discovered the joy that is swimming outside in wintertime thanks to local heated pools.
…would not have seen Mitski play to a very small room, or Beach House play to a very large one.
…would not have discovered for myself that fermented shark tastes just as terrible as it sounds, or that whale and puffin are alarmingly delicious, or that I could live off hot dogs from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur until I die.
…would not have rented a car and driven by myself past countless waterfalls to the black sand beaches of Vík í Mýrdal.
…(and this is maybe the heaviest but most important one) would not have had time or space to process the deaths of my dad and my dog, both of which had happened unexpectedly and within five days of each other three weeks before I went to Iceland.
But that was just my first experience flying with WOW; it also got me to Oslo and Copenhagen this past summer for a whole new list of things I might not have gotten the chance to do had they not been offering such affordable round-trip fares. And I really hope that this isn’t part of a larger death rattle for all budget airlines, because there are a lot more things I want to see and do without depleting my life savings in one fell swoop.
Again, I know there are probably a lot of people who are mad (to put it very lightly) at WOW right now, and I get it. This whole situation is very, very shitty, and I hope the people who lost their jobs, their travel plans, their money, will see a swift and fair resolution. But for now I just want to personally say that I will very much miss the airline and its pleasantly purple cabin crew, and would like to give a sincere thanks for the memories. (You were here for a good time, WOW, not a long one.)