WOW airline goes bust, what are my rights?
What has happened to WOW air and what does it mean for me?
It was announced on 29th March 2019 that WOW air has ceased operation and as a result all flights have been cancelled. WOW air was a 'happy low-fare long-haul airline based in Iceland' that was founded in 2011, offering cheap long haul services to worldwide destinations using its fleet of Airbus aircraft.
I am due to fly with WOW air, what happens now?
If you have booked onto a WOW AIR flight in the coming weeks it is now cancelled so you will need to try and re-arrange your flight with another airline.
I flew out with WOW air and am stranded on holiday, what now?
If you are currently stranded on holiday some airlines offer 'rescue fares' which are discounted flights in the unfortunate event of an airline going bust. However, if you have booked your holiday through a travel agent or on a credit card you may also be able to get your money back or get some help to get re-booked on other flights.
Am I covered if I paid by credit card?
You can claim money from the credit card company under the Section 75 Act if:
- Flights are over £100
- You paid with your credit card directly through the tour operator or airline website
- You booked through a travel agent (and the name shows on the statement) some companies will give your money back so it is worth contacting them first
- If the flights are below £100 you may have some rights through the chargeback scheme (see below)
Am I covered if I paid by debit card?
It is relatively difficult to claim back money if you paid via a debit card (as you are not protected under the section 75 scheme). There is however a chargeback scheme but it isn't legally binding and therefore isn't guaranteed.
- There is generally a 120 day limit (this does vary depending on the scenario) but the sooner you contact your card provider the better
- Chargeback isn't very well known so you may have trouble asking for it, but be persistent as it does exist
Am I covered if I booked via a travel agent?
All agents in the UK are legally obliged to offer ATOL protection (a scheme run by the Civil Aviation Authority) if they are selling package deals that include air travel.
- Check you are ATOL protected by locating the ATOL certificate that was issued when booking your holiday or by looking on the CAA website
- You are entitled to a full refund
- It is the holiday providers responsibility to re-arrange your travel
- BUT If you booked with an online travel agent such as Expedia or Skyscanner you may not be covered (as ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday's and travel listed on their website)
Will my travel insurance pay out?
Some insurers offer protection in the event of an airline going bust:
- Check your contract to see if you paid for travel insurance to cover for flight cancellations/airline collapse
- Contact your insurance provider
How do I ensure I am covered if an airline like WOW air goes bust?
It is not always something that we consider when purchasing a holiday but in light of WOW air's sudden collapse (and the collapse of other similar airlines in recent years) it is worth making sure you are protected. So you should:
- Take out travel insurance that states explicitly in the terms and conditions that it covers for the collapse of an airline
- Always try to pay via a credit card to ensure you benefit from the protection that section 75 provides
- Pay / book via a travel agent to ensure you get ATOL protection
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