Since late 2021, Google Flights searches in some Transatlantic markets after April 2022 have turned up a new entrant: PLAY.
Every few years, it seems, there’s another ultra low cost airline flying from Iceland, connecting passengers between Europe and North America in addition to bringing visitors to Iceland. PLAY is the latest entrant in this space. PLAY is an Iceland-based ultra low cost carrier that began flying between Iceland and Europe in 2021; service to North America begins in April, 2022.
PLAY is an Ultra Low Cost Carrier (ULCC). It’s a model that’s not uncommon across the globe. Base fares cover transportation, while everything else is available for an additional fee. ULCC travel is ideal for cost-conscious passengers whose travel plans are concrete and aren’t concerned about even the most basic of frills.
Many non-ULCC carriers that compete with PLAY offer fare types with similar restrictions on baggage, seat assignments, and changing or refunding a ticket. When comparing fares between PLAY and non-ULCC competitors, it’s important to compare like-for-like, and make value comparisons for the rest.
For example, PLAY does not offer inflight entertainment, onboard power, or free inflight meals and drinks, while other airlines with similarly restricted fares may still offer, free of charge, so be sure to compare not only similarities between fare restrictions, but also similarities and differences between the onboard experience and overall duration of travel (PLAY flights between North America and Europe transit Iceland, which means longer travel times than competing carriers flying nonstop).
What we love about PLAY:
- Low fares, both to Iceland and onward to Europe
- No complicated fare categories or bundling
- Conveniently timed connections to Europe via Keflavik
What we don’t love about it:
- Zero frills (no wifi, no entertainment, no onboard power outlets)
- Confusing, non-refundable fees
- Few options for flights that are delayed or canceled
- Passengers must create an account to book or view seat and baggage fees for their itinerary beyond the schedule and base fare
Some examples of deals Going has found on PLAY
- Baltimore nonstop to Iceland for $280 roundtrip
- New York Stewart Airport to Berlin for $285 roundtrip
- Boston to Paris for $292 roundtrip
- Founded in: Reykjavik, Iceland
- Hub cities: One–Keflavik International Airport, Iceland
- Fleet: 4 A320neo and A321neo aircraft
- Subsidiaries: None
- CEO: Birgir Jónsson
- Alliance: None
- Nonstop routes: 26 international
- Safety rating: Too new to rate
- On time rating: Too new to rate
- Nationality: Icelandic
- International classes of service: Economy
- Covid policy: Passengers must wear masks onboard; entry restrictions are enforced based on the country of destination. PLAY is temporarily suspending change fees on ticket changes (applicable to changes of travel dates or destination); standard cancellation policies are in effect.
- Customer Service: There’s no phone number, but PLAY can be messaged on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, or emailed directly at email@example.com
- Flight Status
- Official Site
A brief history of PLAY
PLAY was founded in 2019 by executives from WOW Air, a similar Icelandic airline that had gone bankrupt and ceased operations that same year. PLAY commenced service from Iceland to Europe in the summer of 2021, and announced US destinations in late 2021, with service beginning in April 2022.
Where PLAY flies
PLAY is currently selling flights from four US destinations to Keflavik Airport in Iceland:
- Boston Logan
- New York Stewart International Airport
- Baltimore/Washington International
- Orlando International Airport
Passengers can connect to PLAY’s European flights from Keflavik, which serve major European capitals year-round:
- London (Stansted)
- Paris (Charles de Gaulle)
- Palma de Mallorca
Seasonally, PLAY also serves:
- Las Palmas
PLAY’s sole hub is at Iceland’s Keflavik Airport.
Tips for booking a PLAY flight
PLAY fare types
PLAY has only one fare type–the base fare. This fare includes transportation and a personal item that can fit under the seat in front and weighs less than 10 kilos / 22 pounds. Nothing else is included in the base fare.
Baggage fees on PLAY
PLAY charges fees for both carryon and checked baggage, and the charges apply per flight, so passengers making connections to European flights at Keflavik Airport will pay the fee for both flights in their itinerary (the fees for connecting flights are combined to a single fee per one-way trip).
The lowest fees are available during the booking process. Baggage can also be added to a booking after booking online or via a service center (which charges a separate fee), during online check-in, or at the airport ticket counter, which is the highest-fee option.
The fees are nonrefundable and non-transferable even if unused.
Seat selection fees on PLAY
PLAY charges fees for pre-assigned seats. If passengers choose not to have seats assigned in advance, they will be randomly assigned at check-in, and PLAY cannot guarantee passengers in a party will be seated together unless they choose to pre-book a seat assignment.
Children will be seated next to at least one adult in their reservation if their seats are not pre-booked, but other adults on the reservation may be seated elsewhere.
Seat assignments are the lowest price during the booking process, and the price graduates higher until airport check-in. Standard seat pitch ranges from 29” to 30” while extra legroom seats, which can be pre-booked for a higher fee, range from 32” to 35”.
Fees on PLAY
- Carryon bag: From $26 to $69 per direction, depending on the length of flight, season (“High” and “Low” Season fees apply to/from the US) and whether the fee is paid at booking, after booking, or at the airport. Each passenger occupying a seat can carry on and pay fees for one bag (in addition to the personal item included in the ticket price, one airport duty free shopping bag, and any medical devices or medication), and the weight limit is 12 kilos / 26 pounds.
- Checked bag: From $32 to $89 per direction for bags up to 20 kilos / 44 pounds, depending on the length of flight, season (“High” and “Low” Season fees apply to/from the US) and whether the fee is paid at booking, after booking, or at the airport. Bags over 20 kilos / 44 pounds and up to 32 kilos / 70 pounds can be checked for a higher fee. Bags over 32 kilos / 70 pounds are not accepted. Each passenger occupying a seat can check and pay fees for up to three bags.
- Seat selection: $4 - $50 depending on the seat. There’s a premium charge for extra legroom seats. Seat fees are applicable for each individual flight. Otherwise, seats are randomly assigned at check-in.
- Food: Nonalcoholic drinks from 3€, alcoholic drinks from 8€, snacks and chocolate from 3€, instant oatmeal or noodles 5-6€, sandwiches/wraps 9€, sandwich/chocolate/soda combo 12€
- Wifi: Not available
How to book a stopover in Iceland on PLAY
All PLAY flights from the US to Europe go through Iceland, so it’s tempting to want to add a short stay in the land of fire and ice. But unlike Icelandair, PLAY doesn’t have an official stopover program. PLAY prices point-to-point, so passengers wishing to stopover in Iceland will need to purchase separate one-way tickets to/from Keflavik Airport for the desired dates of their stopover.
What it’s like flying on PLAY
Unless prohibited by local regulation, PLAY offers online check-in up to 24 hours prior to departure. Passengers can check-in online to receive a boarding pass, which they can scan to print a baggage tag at the airport before dropping off their bags. Passengers without checked luggage can proceed directly to the departure gate after having their documents checked at the help desk to verify COVID-19 entry requirements are met for their destination country.
PLAY does not operate lounges, and does not facilitate or sell lounge access.
Passengers who have purchased carryon bags receive priority boarding, followed by other passengers. Carryon bags are monitored at the gate, and passengers who attempt to board with carryons in excess of their allowance are charged the applicable fees.
One duty free shopping bag acquired in the airport, medications, and medical equipment do not count toward the personal item or carryon limit.
The onboard experience
PLAY doesn’t offer any onboard frills (no WiFi, no seatback or device entertainment, no free beverages or food). Passengers can expect flight attendants to pass through the cabin with the buy-on-board cart, which appears reasonably priced. The limited number of reviews online have generally indicated that cabin crews are friendly when providing service, and buy-on-board items are available in the galleys after the cart service is complete.
It’s made clear on the website that PLAY passengers are welcome to bring their own food and drink onboard, although it should be noted that airports in Europe also prohibit large amounts of liquids through airport security checkpoints.
Tips for flying PLAY
How to use a credit/voucher on PLAY
Credits and vouchers are not standard on PLAY, but some passengers who booked and cancelled prior to September 30, 2021 have been issued credit vouchers valid for one year as a COVID-19 flexibility exception. The vouchers can be used as a form of payment to book a new flight on PLAY.
How to change your flight on PLAY
Passengers can currently change their flight dates and destination up to one hour prior to departure without a change fee as a COVID-19 flexibility exception, but a fare difference may apply. Passengers who rebook to a flight that has a lower fare than their original fare will not receive a credit or refund for the difference. Under normal circumstances (or currently for flights changed less than one hour prior to departure), a change fee applies to each person and each flight being changed, plus the applicable fare difference.
How to get a refund on PLAY?
PLAY does not issue refunds for passengers who have not purchased cancellation protection, which is available for purchase only at the time of booking. Cancellation protection allows for a refund of the ticket in the event of illness or injury, or death of a family member or close friend. Documentation is required within 7 days of the original flight’s departure date.
Passengers who are unable to travel and have not purchased cancellation protection are entitled to have the airport taxes of their unused ticket refunded.
What if PLAY changes your flight day or time?
In the event of a schedule change, passengers can rebook alternate flights by logging into their account and changing their reservation to another PLAY flight. Passengers who are unable to find a suitable alternative flight can request a refund of their ticket. Flight changes within 14 days of departure are considered delays or cancellations by EU regulations.
What if PLAY cancels your flight?
PLAY is certificated in Iceland, a member state of the European Union, so all flights are subject to EC No. 261/2004 regarding compensation in the event of a canceled flight. When a flight is canceled, passengers are entitled to rerouting or a refund of their ticket if the available rerouting options are not acceptable. EC 261/2004 also requires cash compensation for passengers whose flights are canceled within 14 days of departure, depending on the length of delay caused by the canceled flight.
How can I contact PLAY?
There’s no phone number, but PLAY can be messaged on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, or e-mailed directly at firstname.lastname@example.org