Wow Air: What To Do If Your Airline Ceases Flights And You're Stranded Abroad

Or if you've booked with them for future holidays.

Icelandic budget airline Wow Air has ceased all operations, not only cancelling customers future travel plans but also leaving some British holidaymakers stranded in their destinations with no way of getting home.

On Thursday morning the airline said it had halted all flights while completing an agreement with a group of investors over raising new funds.

The carrier, which connected Europe and North America via Reykjavik, with UK flights serving London Gatwick, London Stansted and Edinburgh, suggested that passengers should check if other airlines have flights available.

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The airline says passengers can look to other airlines for the possibility of reduced-rate ‘rescue fares’ and said there might be some entitlement to compensation claims, but didn’t give anymore details.

So what are passengers rights if your airline ceases operations? Whether you’re trying to get home or have booked a future holiday (Which? says Wow was visibly selling flights as recently as 7am on Thursday morning).

Previously, when Monarch airlines collapsed in October 2017, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) launched a programme to return 110,000 customers to the UK. Today, it has released a statement with comprehensive advice for those caught up in the WOW fallout.

What you can do will depend on how you booked your flights and how you paid for them, these are your options.

Did you book directly with WOW?

Paid with credit card:

The CAA says: “If you booked directly with WOW AIR and paid by credit card you may be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and should contact your card issuer for further information.

Alastair Douglas, CEO of credit experts TotallyMoney, said: “Providing the purchase was above £100 — and you used a credit card to book directly with Wow Air and not through a third-party booking site — you should be able to get your money back. If in doubt, the best thing to do is speak with your credit card provider. You might be surprised at what you could get back.”

Paid with debit or other payment methods:

“If you paid by Visa debit or charge card you should contact your card issuer for advice as you may be able to make a claim under their charge back rules.”

Another option that may be open to you if you booked directly with Wow Air rather than through a third party or travel agent is being able to make a claim against Wow Air’s card provider. For this you might need what is known as a ‘negative response’ letter confirming the position of the defunct airline.

The CAA says it will publish this negative response letter shortly.

Did you book with a travel agent?

The CAA says: “If you did not book directly with WOW AIR and purchased your tickets through an intermediary, you should contact your booking or travel agent in the first instance. They may have provided travel insurance that includes Scheduled Airline Failure cover.”

Do you have travel insurance?

Even if you didn’t book with a travel agent but have your own travel insurance policy that may include cover for scheduled airline failure, known as SAFI.

The CAA says: “The type of protection provided may vary depending on the type of policy taken out. A policy may simply cover the cost of the original tickets purchased or any unused portion, or the additional cost of purchasing new flights, such as new tickets for travel back to the UK.”

But independent financial information company, Defaqto, warned 46% of travel insurance policies do not include protection against airline failure. Only 48% of annual and 47% of single-trip policies include this as standard.

To find out more contact your insurer in the first instance.

Did you buy a package deal?

Another way you might be eligible for help is with ATOL protection – if you booked flights and hotels as a package this could apply to you. This is because the travel firm is responsible for your flight arrangements and must either make alternative flights available or provide a full refund.

Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said: “If you are stranded abroad and booked a package holiday that includes ATOL protection you are guaranteed a refund or a flight home at no extra cost if your airline collapses, but you will need to contact your travel agent to arrange this.

“And a package doesn’t necessarily mean you bought a holiday advertised as such, you probably have ATOL protection if you booked the flight and hotel through the same website at the same time.”

Contact the ATOL travel firm for more information.