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Low-cost Icelandic airline Play expands to US, touts cheap Europe flights

Dec. 16, 2021
3 min read
Low-cost Icelandic airline Play expands to US, touts cheap Europe flights
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Play, the latest low-cost carrier based in Iceland, announced Thursday that it will begin operating flights connecting the United States with Europe, treading a path well-worn by now-defunct carrier Wow.

Play began service earlier this year with flights between Keflavik Airport (KEF) near the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik to London’s Stansted Airport (STN), quickly expanding to around 20 destinations. Several of Wow's former management team sit at the helm of Play.

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The airline said it will launch the U.S. service from Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) and Boston's Logan airport (BOS) to its entire European network, transiting through its Keflavik hub — similar to how Wow operated.

Flights from Baltimore will begin on April 20 while service from Boston starts on May 11.

To mark the launch, Play rolled out introductory fares for as low as $109 one-way (though only when booked as part of a round trip) to 11 of its destinations: Berlin (BER); Brussels (BRU); Copenhagen (CPH); Dublin (DUB); Gothenburg, Sweden (GOT); Keflavik; London Stansted (STN); Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG), Stavanger, Norway (SVG); Stuttgart, Germany (STR); and Trondheim, Norway (TRD). Fares are available on Play's website.

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Keep in mind that the discounted fare will only be on the U.S. departing trip when booked as a round-trip, meaning you'll still pay full price for the return leg. Still, Play's low-cost model means those fares start from relatively low base levels.

The introductory fares are available immediately through midnight Eastern time on Dec. 24.

Play operates a fleet of Airbus A320neo and A321neo aircraft. TPG had a chance to fly the airline between Keflavik and London earlier this year, and found it to be a great experience by low-cost carrier standards.

It remains unclear how Play expects to succeed using the Wow business model. The latter airline collapsed in 2019, during the peak of pre-pandemic travel demand. Economically sustainable low-cost transatlantic travel has long eluded the world's airlines, and numerous competitors operate low-cost flights throughout Europe. Hungary-based Wizz Air, for instance, already flies to about 10 destinations from Keflavik.

Related: 7 reasons flying Iceland’s newest airline was a great experience

Still, Play will introduce the low-cost service between Europe and the U.S. at a time when international travel dynamics are emerging changed from the COVID-19 pandemic. Time will tell whether that presents an opportunity for a low-cost carrier like Play, or whether the model will continue to be unsustainable on flights across the Atlantic.

Featured image by (Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023