New Icelandic budget airline Play eyes US expansion by spring 2022

Jul 15, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Play, the newest attempt at an Icelandic low-cost airline experience, isn’t wasting any time when it comes to expansion plans.

The airline has already added routes to London Stansted (STN), Berlin (BER) and Tenerife (TFS) from its hub at Reykjavík Airport (KEF), and now it’s setting its sights on U.S. flights by spring of 2022.

Sign up to receive the daily TPG newsletter for more travel news!

“We will launch the U.S. operation, and the model is simply to connect the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada to select cities in Europe,” Play CEO Birgir Jónsson told Simple Flying. “And that’s something that we will see happening, I would say, [in] March, April, [and] May.”

The majority of the North American cities Play intends to fly to include popular destinations such as New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Toronto. The airline will also offer routes to other cities, which will be announced at a later time. Tickets for Play’s U.S. destinations could go on sale as early as November.

Related: 7 reasons why flying Play was a great experience

The company is looking to get a foothold in existing markets using its low-cost model, rather than trying to create new markets. Also, it wants to get as much use out of its aircraft as possible. It’s one reason why the company has no plans to expand to the West Coast and cities such as Los Angeles.

Play’s operational strategy is to offer long-haul flights at a low cost, and to do that, it wants to keep its planes on a 24-hour loop. Flying to LAX would prevent its aircraft from being able to return to Europe in that time frame.

“We want to be able to use our afternoon flights to go to the U.S. and have them back in the morning to fly European routes,” said Jónsson.

The carrier seems eager to avoid the missteps from its predecessor, Wow Air. That Icelandic budget airline had a similar business model that ultimately failed.

The nascent airline is off to a promising start. Its initial flights to London’s Stansted Airport (STN) were booked at 60% capacity, an impressive number given that we’re still in a pandemic that has upended travel.  The company even earned lots of attention for its snazzy, non-gender-specific uniforms for its flight crews.

Now we’ll have to see if it can pull off its plans to expand across the Atlantic.

Featured photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.