Tag Archives: baggage

Flying to Iceland

If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen a lot of deals for flights flying from Toronto to Reykjavik on the internet lately.  They advertise flights starting from $240 CAD, depending on the dates you go.  I was taken by these advertisements and ending up going to Iceland considering how cheap these flights are.  But before you start buying, I want to let you know about the hidden costs by flying with these deals (usually these flights are offered by WOW Air).

1. Flight prices change quickly

        I never knew this, but apparently airline companies can monitor how many times you’ve looked at their flights.  If you view multiple times, they know that you’re interested in buying a specific flight and will suddenly bump up the prices.   In my case, me and my friend were both buying seats on the same flight to Reykjavik.  My credit card was malfunctioning, so she bought her ticket first.  After I had refreshed my page, the flight price had jumped up $100 CAD! I tried to call the company to see if there was a mistake, but I was informed that flight prices are variable.  I ended up having to pay quite a bit more for my flight than my friend because of a few second difference in our purchasing time.  And in this situation, I couldn’t even refuse to go, since she already bought her ticket.  Sneaky airlines.

2. Hidden Baggage Costs

Flying WOW Air means very strict baggage rules.  They only allow one small carry-on free of charge.  A small carry-on is defined as a size of 42 x 32 x 25 cm, weighing a maximum of 22 lbs.  I even had a school backpack on, and they were questioning if this fit the size requirements.  That’s how small the carry-on allowance is.

A large carry-on will cost $55, whereas a check-in will cost $60.  We opted for a check-in split between 3 people to put the rest of our luggage in.  Also take into account that these costs are for each flight ‘leg’, meaning you will have to pay again for your return trip.  I know.   Capitalism.  Be sure to pay for all your luggage costs online before arriving at the airport.  It’s cheaper to pre-pay, costing almost double to pay at the drop-off area.  Also keep an electronic or paper copy of your receipt.  They did not find my purchase in their system, so I had to find proof of purchase.  Thank goodness for smartphones.

Also note that in Canada, they will check that all your bags are the right size at the baggage drop-off section.  So, you have the ability to rearrange your items, and put more things in your check-in if you have to.  They will then give you a tag for all your carry-on to let the attendants at the gate know that it is an approved size.  This is not the case in Iceland.  They will let you know AT THE GATE whether or not your carry-on meets baggage requirements.  This means that AFTER you have given away your check-in luggage and RIGHT BEFORE you get on the plane, you can be told that your baggage is too large or too heavy to be free, ending up shelling $135 CAD to purchase a large carry-on fee.  That’s right, $135, not $55 because you purchased this at the gate.  Not online or at check-in which would’ve been cheaper, but you didn’t know that your baggage was too large until the gate.  It’s a scam waiting to happen.

We saw this happen to quite a few people, and there’s really nothing you can do about it.  Your flight is leaving in a few minutes and you just end up paying the money to avoid the hassle of fighting it.

A quick tip: The attendant at the gate was checking each carry-on to see if it met the size requirements.  We had not taken off our baggage tags from our flight from Canada to Iceland, and she took one look at our tags and thought that we had paid for ‘large carry-ons’ and let us in with no trouble.  So keep your luggage tags on.

3. Food Costs

Nothing is included at WOW Air.  We were expecting a meal of some sort, but there was nothing.  No snacks, and not even drinks.  Everything had to be paid for.  It was strange that they didn’t even offer us water.  What if I was dying of thirst, or a diabetic.  I would have to pay at least $5 to save my life.  It’s a tough decision.

4. Entertainment

There are no in-flight televisions on WOW Air.  No plugs, nada.  You can rent an Ipad for $20 with pre-loaded movies and games, but if you don’t, you’re stuck twiddling your thumbs for 5 hours.

5. Seat Assignment

If you want to sit with your travelling companions, you will have to purchase $15 per flight leg to choose your seat.  You are allowed to request a preference of aisle or window at the time of your booking for free however.  And, you can switch seats with other passengers if they are willing.  We didn’t end up sitting together, as it was just a 5 hour flight.

6. Other Grievances

On the flight from Iceland back to Canada, WOW Air did not have their own flight terminal.  We were crammed into a bus with the heat turned up, waited for 15 minutes to arrive at the plane and walked in the rain to get to  our airplane.  You get what you pay for.


                                                                           (lol, I kid. Our plane was much worse)

So although I was advertised a flight costing ~$350, I ended up paying $500 for the flight itself and $40 for baggage (already split between 3 people).  It’s still a good deal, but just be aware of these costs before you start buying.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever fly WOW Air again, maybe if there are good deals, but I will always budget at least $100 more for all the hidden costs and fees that incur.





My trip to Iceland was very spur of the moment, decided and booked only a month before departure.  Wow Air had advertised deals starting from $200 CAD roundtrip and so we jumped at the chance to go.  (Flight was actually $499 CAD with $60 baggage fee one way; not as cheap as advertised eventually, but see footnote below for details)

The trip was a total of 10 days, 9 nights and a total expenditure of $1700 for this week and a half.

I went in mid-October, which isn’t the best time to go, as the weather is gloomy and rainy most days.  The benefit is that you get to see the Northern Lights without going mid-winter.  We were lucky that we had a few days of sunshine when we needed it and it rained on the days that we were driving mostly.

South Iceland




The tourists all go to Seljalandfoss, but often miss Gljúfrafoss a short drive away.  A short, steep climb allows you to get right up to the falls.  The climb itself was just as fun as the view you get at the top.




The windy day and the waves crashing on the rocky shore made Dyrhólaey truly terrifying. There’s even a sign that tells you to proceed at your own discretion before you climb the rocky incline, but the view is breathtaking.

DC-3 crash in Sólheimasandur



You’ve probably seen JBeebs skateboarding down this plane, but the DC-3 crash in Sólheimasandur is eerie and isolated at the same time.  They recently closed down the driving road to get here, so you have to park 4 km away and walk in order to reach this site. The entrance/parking to this site was difficult to find as well, but the site is very photogenic especially with the landscape in the background.  *No one died when this flight crashed*

Black Sand Beach



You can sit on the vertical rock columns and watch the sunset at Black Sand Beach; where the sand is actually black (more like pebbles).





Fjaðrárgljúfur is a canyon is pretty well hidden.  When we first arrived, we looked around and didn’t see anything.  It’s only when you walk a little closer that you notice the depth of the entire thing.  The entire route is 2 km.

Svartifoss waterfall and Skaftafell glacier


Svartifoss is a waterfall where the Skaftafell glacier is located.  I would recommend looking at the hiking trail map before going up, in order to get to whichever waterfalls you want without getting lost.




The hike to Svartifoss and Skaftafell (the glacier) is breathtaking.  Both routes eventually lead back to the starting point, although Svartifoss is on the left and Skaftafell is on the right.  We went to Svartifoss and doubled back to the fork in the road to get the Skaftafell.  I would recommend doing both those routes. Definitely worth it.



This is the epic Skaftafell glacier.  (The tail end at least).  We just see a bit of the whole thing.


I guess the view walking down was okay.




Next stop! Iceberg lagoon aka. Jökulsárlón.  This lagoon has icebergs that flow from a rapidly receding glacier.  We also took a boat ride through the lagoon costing around $60 CAD and got to taste a piece of the iceberg (our most expensive excursion).

*All these photos so far have been from Southern Iceland.  Although we did the entire island on the Ring Road, southern Iceland had by far the most interesting attractions.

North Iceland




Grjótagjá is an underground cave that used to be a popular bathing site in the 1970s.  Now it is illegal to swim in the water due to unstable and changing temperatures.  Its a tiny climb down an unassuming entrance and looks straight out of scene in LoTR.

Troll Cave in Dimmuborgir




Upon hiking in the Dimmuborgir lava fields, we stumbled on a cave that looked like it had been lived in.  There were blankets on the floor, laundry hung up, pots and pans and even some money on the table.  It was pretty creepy especially because the cave is a kilometre off the main road and nobody else was there but us to see it.

Myvatn Nature Baths




Similar to Blue Lagoon, but much less populated (cheaper too) is Myvatn Nature Baths.  The water is baby blue and you can even feel the moss and rocks underneath your feet.  It really feels like you just took a dip in a random hot spring you just happened to stumble across.  Around $40 CAD.



The second largest city next to Reykjavik.

Selfoss and Dettifoss



These two waterfalls you can only get to by driving down a rocky gravel road.  Its a difficult road for a normal car to get through, since there’s a lot of potholes and rocks.  It would be very easy for a 4×4 car, but you’ll have to decide whether it is worth the unpleasant ride and possible scrapes to your rental car to venture out here if you don’t drive a 4×4.

Northern Lights



Now, fair warning, the Northern Lights definitely look better in photos.  Do not be disappointed because even though these look very bright and strong, they were much fainter to the naked eye.  That’s not to say that they weren’t still beautiful.  There were 2 or 3 times where the lights were very bright and no photo could ever match that kind of brilliance.  They do also appear more white than green to the naked eye, but we have seen them green-tinged and even purple.  Usually they are just streaks in the sky, but we have also seen them dance.  We were only able to see the lights in North Iceland, and it had to be a fairly clear night (which was quite rare).  There are Northern Light tracker apps online that are very helpful to see if you’ll have a good chance of seeing them in the region you are in.




So that’s my week and a half in Iceland! I didn’t talk about most of the very touristy locations (except the ones that were too nice not to talk about!) and chose to show just the highlights of my trip.  Places like Blue Lagoon, Skogafoss are talked about in most travel blogs, so I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about those.  I have another blog about more tips and tricks to saving money and how we managed to keep under 2 grand for this entire trip!

P.C. Jason Tam