Everything you need to know about Wow Air cancellations

Q&A: Airline has gone out of business leaving thousands of passengers out of pocket

Passengers who are currently overseas and due to return home on WOW air flights have no option but to check available flights with other airlines. Photograph: Mauritz Antin/EPA

Passengers who are currently overseas and due to return home on WOW air flights have no option but to check available flights with other airlines. Photograph: Mauritz Antin/EPA

 

What has happened to Wow Air?
It has gone out of business leaving many thousands of would-be passengers substantially out of pocket and their travel plans up in the air.

What is Wow Air again?
If you have to ask, you’re probably okay this morning. Wow is a budget airline founded in 2011 in Iceland. It began flying from Ireland - and from across Europe - to destinations in the US, Canada and Iceland in 2015. It attracted a lot of attention and a lot of Irish passengers with its promise of low fares. It sold itself as the way to get to the US for less, with the benefit of a stopover in Iceland added to the mix.

Sounds great, what went wrong?
Well, industry sources have said while the airline was good at the low fare side of the model, it was not so good at the low cost. It racked up substantial debts in a failry short space of time.

So, is the collapse a surprise?
It is not entirely unexpected. The company has been in difficulty for some months now, with its problems considerably exacerbated by rising fuel costs, increased interest rates and falling fares. All three hit its cash flows and hindered its ability to make repayments on its debts.

What has it been doing?
In addition to advertising like a whilrling dervish for months, it had been in intense talks with investors and other airlines about a bailout. But all talks came to an end on Wednesday night, and within hours the airline was gone.

When did the airline stop taking bookings?
As late as Wednesday night, just hours before it collapsed, people were able to book flights with the airline.

I have flights booked with the airline and am waiting to get home. What is going to happen to me?
There is no point in sugar coating it, the news is bad. Passengers who are currently overseas and due to return home on Wow Air flights have no option but to check available flights with other airlines. It is possible that some airlines may offer flights at reduced rates - known as rescue fares in the trade - in light of the circumstances, and while passengers may as well ask for such fares, it is more likely they will have to buy tickets to get home at full price.

Is there any way I can get my money back for a holiday I have booked?
If you have booked a package holiday with a tour operator that includes flights with Wow Air, then you are probably fully covered under your tour operator’s insurance, and they will have an obligation to get you to and back from your destination or offer you a full refund of your trip, including all accommodation and extras.

But if I have done a DIY thing?
You are effectively on your own. It may be possible to make a claim under your travel insurance policy if you have travel insurance. But not all policies will cover the collapse of an airline.

But will I be compensated by the airline?
The possibilities are remote. While passengers will have a legal right to claim compensation under European regulations on air passenger rights, if the airline goes out of business, then all claims will to be filed with administrator or liquidators. The bad news is passengers will be unsecured creditors and will have to wait until all secured creditors are taken care of first. And as the airline has gone out of business because it does not have the money to pay its creditors, the chances of passengers getting any money back are slim.

I can’t get to my destination but have accommodation and car hire paid for overseas, will I be able to get that money back?
Maybe, but probably not. It will very much depend on the kindness of those with whom you have booked. They are under no legal obligation to give you any money back.

Are there any other ways to get my money back?
Yes. If you have booked a flight with the airline you will most likely have used a credit or debit card, and if something has been paid for using a credit or debit card and it is not delivered, then consumers should immediately contact their bank and get it to start a process known as a chargeback.

What is that again?
It means you notify your credit card provider to refund money paid directly to Wow Air directly back onto your card. Time limits do apply, and consumers typically have 120 days from the time they become aware of the problem to apply for a refund.

How long should the chargeback process take?
It depends on the bank, the credit card provider and the reason for the chargeback. Given that this situation is so high profile and impacts so many people, it is pretty open and shut, so there should not be much toing and froing between customers and their banks.

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