Wow Air ceased operations early Thursday morning, stranding many of their passengers in the middle of the night.
If you’ve booked a flight on an Wow Air, you may wonder if you’re protected as a paying customer if you have a ticket in hand.
What to do when an airline fails and you’re planning to fly with them
On Wow Air’s homepage a banner says “All Wow Air flights have been cancelled.”
The airline suggests stranded passengers do two things:
- Check available flights with other airlines.
- Check with your credit card company if you bought your ticket that way
Money expert Clark Howard always says that you should buy airfare with a credit card for this very reason.
Now let’s dig deeper into your options if you’re flying an airline that goes bust.
At least one carrier, Iceland Airlines, is offering discounted airfares for Wow Air customers. Iceland says it is offering the following prices:
- $60 to and from Europe
- $100 to and from North America
- $160 to Europe and North America and from those destinations
See the details on Iceland Airline’s discounted fares here.
Because of the situation, other airlines may offer discounted airfares — called rescue fares — as well. Here’s how to contact customers service with all the major airlines.
To the often-asked question of whether you can get your money back in a situation like this, Clark.com Travel Editor Clara Bosonetto says:
“If your flight has been canceled by Wow Air you are entitled to get a refund for your unused ticket.”
Wow Air says that passengers may indeed be entitled to compensation in accordance with European regulation on Air Passenger Rights. The airline says more information on this will be forthcoming.
Wow Air posted the following travel alert, which advises customers on their protections:
Let’s go in detail about the steps you need to take to protect yourself when your airline goes out of business:
4 things you need to do if your airline goes under
1. Check with other airlines to book a flight
When a fellow airline goes bust, customer service numbers for another carrier may be jammed. That’s when you should turn to social media to get answers.
Many airlines will respond quicker if you contact them on Facebook, Twitter and the like. See the social media accounts of all the major airlines here.
Wow Air’s customer service number is 1 (888) 209-3170, however, in a case like this, it’s hard to tell how responsive they will be.
2. See about getting a refund
If you’re able to get through to the airline, you should know that even if your airfare was purchased as an non-refundable flight, you may be able to get your money back in light of a serious situation like the airline being in danger of shutting down.
You can also get a refund on your airfare if you bought trip insurance, which typically covers flight interruptions and the cease of operations. The details will ultimately depend on your policy.
3. Know your rights as a traveler
If you’re in Europe, the EU’s Compensation Rights specifically provide for customer refunds in the event of most cancellations.
In a press release, Wow Air says, “Passengers who bought their ticket from a European travel agent (within the European Economic Area) as a part of a package tour (a package which includes flights and accommodation or other services) are protected by the Package Travel Directive. Those passengers are advised to contact their travel agent to arrange an alternative flight.”
To ask for a refund directly from Wow Air, you can send an email to [email protected], but again, because of a cease of operations, this may not be an option.
4. Call your credit card company
As we mentioned earlier, you should always purchase airline tickets with a credit card in case anything — like an airline going out of business — goes haywire.
“The reason is that if the airline goes bust, you can get your money back,” Clark says.
When you talk to your credit card company, don’t just say “What can you do for me?” or “Can you make things right?” You should specify that you want a refund or a “chargeback.”
Hopefully, you’re not affected by the situation with Wow Air. But airlines are businesses just like any other and, as such, the potential is always there for them to fail. If your airline goes out of business, you might experience some inconvenience but at least you won’t be worried about being being out a big chunk of money.