If you want to go to Europe for less, a new low-cost airline out of Iceland—Play—has an interesting proposition for you.
The carrier launched in the U.S. market on December 16 with flights from Boston Logan International Airport and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to 22 European destinations starting in spring 2022. The flights, which connect through Iceland and are now available to be booked online, go to popular Europe hubs like Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, London, and Paris, as well as to smaller outposts such as Alicante, Malaga and Tenerife in Spain, Trondheim in Norway and Bologna, Italy.
In an effort to really make a splash stateside, for a limited time Play is offering one-way Europe flights for as low as $109 to 11 of its Europe destinations:
- Berlin Brandenburg (BER), Germany
- Brussels (BRU), Belgium
- Copenhagen (CPH), Denmark
- Dublin (DUB), Ireland
- Göteborg Landvetter (GOT), Sweden
- Keflavik (KEF), Iceland
- London Stansted (STN), the United Kingdom
- Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG), France
- Stavanger (SVG), Norway
- Stuttgart (STR), Germany
- Trondheim (TRD), Norway
The deal is valid for round-trip flights departing from the U.S., booked by midnight Eastern Time on December 24, 2021, for travel between May and June 2022 and between August and October 2022.
What’s the catch? Well, the seriously no-frills carrier has a lot of additional fees for everything from seat selection ($4–$50) to carry-on and checked bags. One personal item is included for the flight, but carry-on bags and in-flight meals are extra, and a single, 44-pound checked bag ranges from $32 to $57 if booked in advance online (the prices differ depending on the dates and routes), to up to $79 if you pay at the airport upon check-in. It costs $78 to change your flight dates, and the flights themselves are absent Wi-Fi or seatback entertainment.
If this all sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because it is. Much of the executive team, including Play CEO Birgir Jónsson, hail from the now defunct Icelandic budget carrier Wow Air, which had a similar cheap-flights-with-no-frills model.
A model that Jónsson believes is ready for a comeback as the desire for Americans to travel abroad again—on the cheap—ramps back up.
“Travelers around the world are hungry to venture to new destinations and recent data shows that nearly two thirds of Americans are planning their next vacations with international destinations top of mind,” Jónsson said in a press release about Play’s U.S. launch.
He added that with the carrier’s affordable flights, “Travelers can enjoy their destination rather than overspending on the flight to get there.”
So what are the rates when there isn’t a headline-making introductory offer? During the 2022 high summer season, a one-way flight to Paris from Boston can be as much as $422, and a one-way flight from London to Baltimore could run you $440. But even during the summer you can find deals for one-way Europe flights under $200 on Play.
The airline, which was founded in 2019 in Reykjavík, Iceland, operates its flights on new all-economy Airbus A321NEO and A320NEO aircraft. Its first flights kicked off in June 2021, when it began flying routes within Europe.