Iceland Has Seen a Massive Decline in Tourism Due to the Demise of WOW Air

From alternative college spring break trips to a feature on an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Iceland had become a prime vacation spot for just about every type of traveler over the last several years—partly because of how cheap it was to fly there.

It looks like that era has come to an end, and Condé Nast Traveler reports that it’s largely due to the March collapse of WOW air, one of Iceland’s two airlines. Known for its bright purple planes and “Wow”-worthy prices, the airline offered roundtrip, nonstop flights from major U.S. and European cities sometimes for as little as $100. The deals drew millions of frugal adventurers to seek out Iceland’s attractions, causing a peak of 38 percent year-over-year tourist growth in 2016, as Visit Iceland told USA Today. Aviation journalist Seth Kaplan explained to Condé Nast Traveler that the small island nation simply couldn’t handle servicing millions of people across two airlines in its capital city Reykjavik, and WOW air’s business model wasn’t sustainable.

This year’s statistics illustrate just how quickly the tourism numbers are plummeting. According to data from Diio by Cirium, the number of scheduled airplane seats for the rest of 2019 is down a devastating 27.5 percent from last year. Though WOW air’s demise heavily contributed to the drop, things aren’t running smoothly for Iceland’s other airline, Icelandair, either: It owns nine Boeing 737 MAXs, which haven’t been flown since the model’s official worldwide grounding in March. As a result, Icelandair has had to fire 45 pilots.

And, contrary to what the media surrounding the bargain flight prices might’ve made you think, Iceland is not a cheap country. Hotels, food, and alcohol are all significantly more expensive than throughout Europe, and many tourists aren’t prepared for it. Condé Nast Traveler travel specialist Chris Gordon said it caused chaos across the usually very safe country. “People were breaking into churches to sleep in them,” he said. “People were rampantly using lawns as toilets, and pristine landscapes—Iceland’s greatest attraction—became famously strewn with toilet paper.”

Without WOW air ferrying hoards of ill-equipped vacationers into the country, prices will probably level out. “I would expect you will have more of an equilibrium, where the cheapest flights will be gone but with fewer people in the country, the cost of other things should be dropping,” Kaplan says.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

This Convenient, Comfortable Travel Pillow Doesn’t Wrap Around Your Neck

Manuel-F-O/iStock via Getty Images
Manuel-F-O/iStock via Getty Images

If an angry bit of airplane turbulence has recently whammed your forehead into the window, you probably have the bruises to prove that sleeping on the go can be a dangerous game. Though neck pillows can offer some security, not everyone’s a fan—some people can’t sleep totally upright, some don’t think it provides enough support, and others simply don’t like the feeling of a plush toilet seat curled around their necks.

For those people, there’s the Ostrich Pillow Mini, a tiny, oblong pillow into which you slip your hand, forearm, or elbow, depending on what’s most comfortable for you. It will stay in place and protect your head from airplane turbulence in a way that no balled-up, threadbare hoodie ever could, but it’s not just for those lucky winners (or purchasers) of window seats. You can use the pillow wherever you might be inclined to rest your head on top of your arms, including plane or train trays, piles of library books, and office desks. One Amazon customer even used the pillows as elbow pads to protect himself from unforgivingly hard arm rests.

Ostrich pillow mini
Amazon

Since the Ostrich Pillow Mini essentially works as an extension of your arm, you don’t have to stay stone-still while you sleep. As Travel + Leisure’s Claudia Fisher puts it, “Sometimes, I even wake up from a nap to discover I’ve shifted in my sleep but brought my little arm pillow with me to support my head in its new spot.”

In addition to its main opening, the pillow has two other holes. One is a small, finger-sized opening through which you slide your thumb if you’re keeping the pillow on your hand. The other is a larger hole at the other end, through which you slide your hand if you want the pillow to stay on your forearm or elbow.

Ostrich pillow mini
Amazon

It’s compact enough that you can easily fit it into your carry-on bag, backpack, or briefcase, and understated enough that you can power nap in public without drawing attention to yourself. The outer layer is light gray, and the inner layer comes in Midnight Grey, Blue Reef, or Sleepy Blue. You can order it for $35 from Amazon.

Check out some other ways to make flying more comfortable here.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

How to Book Your Dream Vacation Now and Pay Later

grinvalds/iStock via Getty Images
grinvalds/iStock via Getty Images

Many websites make booking travel fast, cheap, and easy—but when it comes time to hit purchase, they still expect you to pay for your trip upfront. Outside of sweepstakes and dream jobs, paying for your ideal vacation is unavoidable, but a new feature from CheapAir.com makes it a little less painful. As Yahoo! reports, the online travel agency now lets customers book all the parts of their trip—including hotels and airfare—and pay for them in installments.

If you're fantasizing about a vacation you can't afford to take at this point in your life, you can take care of the logistics now and worry about paying for everything later. The new CheapAir.com feature works differently from most online booking services: Instead of paying for the components as you go, you set up a budget with the website at the start of the process. Once your budget is confirmed, you're given 21 days to plan your trip through the site. The cost of everything you book is subtracted from your budget, and CheapAir.com shows you what funds you have left so you don't pay more than you set out to spend.

After scheduling and booking your travel, CheapAir.com gives you up to a year to pay for your trip. You can break up the total cost of your bill into three, six, or 12 monthly installments at a 10 to 30 percent annual percentage rate. And before signing up for anything through the service, you must go through a quick credit approval process to qualify.

CheapAir.com is one of the latest travel websites that lets users book their trips now and pay for them later. Expedia also has a bill installment option if you're booking rooms and tickets that cost $200 or more, and some airlines, like American Airlines and British Airways, allow you to set up a payment plan through them directly.

[h/t Yahoo!]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER