Play Airlines Cheap Flights to Europe Test
On his website, Play promotes core values such as safety, punctuality, simplicity, happiness and low prices when traveling to more than 20 “wonderful destinations in Europe and North America”. The airline began operating in Europe last June, offering trips to tourist powerhouses such as Prague and Copenhagen, as well as less familiar locations such as the Canary Islands in Spain and Stavanger, Norway.
I took the carrier’s first flight from Baltimore to Reykjavik for a stopover en route to London Stansted Airport. Then I flew home from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport with another connecting flight to Reykjavik.
Here’s what I liked, hated and recommended to potential Play travelers.
How do you actually get those $49 flights? There is always a catch in airline sales.
Once you’ve entered your trip details, Play’s website loads a calendar showing the starting price of tickets on a given date. Because Play is much smaller than a Delta or Lufthansa, you can have an option for one flight each day. There may also be days of the week when the airline doesn’t fly to your desired destination — something to keep in mind when planning your trip.
The prices you see on the calendar will inevitably go up due to fees and add-ons that will come later. They also reflect the cost for a traveler per one-way flight “when booking a return flight,” the website says. Buying a one-way instead can be more expensive: I was offered $187 for my flight to London for half a round trip, but $356 once I changed it to a one-way ( I wanted to come back to BWI from Paris. )
Once you’ve confirmed your flight details and entered passenger information, the add-ons start accumulating. You are entitled to one free personal item as long as it fits under the seat. Everything else will cost you. Prices for carry-on ($26 to $69 per direction) and checked baggage ($32 to $89) vary depending on your destination, time of year, and whether you’re paying online or at the airport.
For my trip from Baltimore to London, my cabin fee was $46. A checked bag would have cost $72. Choosing a seat would have cost between $5 and $50. Cancellation protection for my trip was $25. After counting everything, the total cost of my flight from Baltimore to London was $428.11. The flight from Paris to Baltimore was $385.38, which leaves me with a total of $813.49.
Sometimes Play is cheaper, and sometimes not. When researching my same route for a week in May, Delta’s economy price ($618) beat Play ($976). A week earlier, however, Play cost $617 while the same route with US and UK flights cost $724.
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Play operates from some renowned airports (BWI, Charles de Gaulle, Boston Logan, Orlando International) as well as secondary airports (New York Stewart International Airport, London Stansted). I enjoyed arriving in Stansted from the hustle and bustle of Heathrow, and could always catch a convenient train to the city centre. At Paris airport, Play was located in the same terminal as other budget options like easyJet and Iceland Air.
Connecting through Iceland is a piece of volcanic cake. The airport is small and easy to navigate, making it easy to get through border control and your next flight. Depending on the time of day, you can buy food, drinks and souvenirs from one of the cafes and shops. If you go very early or very late there is a vending machine with some light refreshments to buy.
I missed some of the little touches you get from major airlines, including the ability to add your boarding pass to your Apple Wallet for easy access, or email and text notifications about gate changes . I was killing time at Paris airport thinking I was in the right place – according to my boarding pass – with plenty of time to spare when I was supposed to be on the other side of the building. On a leisurely walk to stretch my legs, I saw on the departures monitor that the airline was calling for final boarding at another gate.
Play sent a reminder email about my upcoming flights, including useful information about the Paris airport, but there was no link directing me to check-in. It also doesn’t have an app that could do that, so you can set your own alarm.
For any customer service issues, there is no phone number to call. Instead, you can message the airline on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter or email [email protected]
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Play’s Airbus A321NEO and A320NEO are stripped down: no sockets, no WiFi, no pillows and no in-flight entertainment. The company says this no-frills service allows travelers to pay less and “play more.”
Depending on the itinerary, you may be required to wear a mask on board, but it was not required on my flights between the US and Iceland, or Iceland to London.
As expected from a low-cost carrier, the seats are nothing to write home about. They’re about three inches thick (estimated with my fingers like a measuring stick) and legroom varies by flight; I had plenty of room to stretch on half of my segments and felt cramped (even at 5ft 4in) during the others. The tray table was barely wide enough to cover the base of my 13-inch laptop, and the length was short enough for the laptop to hang off the edge.
The flight attendants were cheerful and accommodating, which mitigated bad news, such as the fact that there is no free water; you can buy a bottle for about a dollar. Also available for purchase: a cup of YumYum chicken flavored noodles ($5.25), Pringles ($3.15), a club sandwich ($9.45) and a can of Pepsi Max ($3.15).
A highlight was the selection of Icelandic treats, including Freyja Draumur, a liquorice milk chocolate ($3.15) and Appelsin orange soda ($3.15). To get really wild, you can order a caffeinated sparkling water ($3.15). On the alcohol side, there’s Icelandic beer and canned cocktails, as well as international wines and mini-bottles of liquor. I tried the Icelandic Gull beer ($9.45) which was tasty but barely cold.
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That means fewer flight options and more nickel and dimming. It might not always be so cheap either. If you have flexible dates for your trip, you can find cheap tickets to Iceland and Europe. But if you’re flying during peak demand times or booking one-way tickets, you can expect to pay about as much as you would on other airlines.
There are a few pluses: friendly staff, interesting snacks to buy. I even asked the staff at my Paris check-in if I could get an aisle seat, and they agreed without charging me. Even more special, during my first departure in Iceland, an air hostess told me that there was a superb view of the Northern Lights.
Are you guaranteed a memorable and economical trip by booking with Play? No. But if you can get a good price, I would recommend it.