With the collapse of WOW Air late last night (early AM in Europe), hundreds of passengers are stranded across North America and Europe with little to no recourse for fixing their travel plans. A few hours later, the Icelandic budget airline ceased all operations and announced their permanent closure due to bankruptcy, leaving their passengers in a lurch. Generally speaking, when a flight is cancelled, refunds and rebooking are well within the realm of possibility, but that’s not looking likely in this case. In fact, refunds are likely not possible for WOW Air customers.
In a notice to passengers, WOW wrote that a rescue fare, which would get passengers to where they need to go at a lower-than-usual rate, may be possible with other airlines: “Passengers are advised to check available flights with other airlines. Some airlines may offer flights at a reduced rate, so-called rescue fares, in light of the circumstances. Information on those airlines will be published, when it becomes available.”
As for refunds, it’s not exactly clear where customers stand. If you booked using a credit card, you may be able to acquire a refund through your credit card company, and if you booked a ticket as part of a tour package through a European travel agency, your flight is protected thanks to the Package Travel Directive — call your agency directly for help with rebooking. Additionally, if you were smart enough to book travel insurance, file a claim now. Even still, having travel insurance might not cover the closure of an airline due to bankruptcy. In fact, per The Guardian, fully half of U.K. travel policies will not pay out to WOW Air customers.
Certainly, don’t count on WOW Air to refund you. According to Business Insider, refund claims are often the last to be paid out in bankruptcy cases. So you may just be out of luck or you might get a check in a few years. That said, if you’re an optimist, you can always check AirHelp’s claim compensation widget and see if you qualify for money back.