WOW Air Stops Flying: What You Need to Know
After seven years of crazy-low transatlantic fares, the bubble finally burst on no-frills WOW air. Weeks' worth of rumors proved true when the airline announced to customers that it was immediately ceasing operations as of March 28, 2019 through an alert on its website.
The decision leaves many passengers up in the air (so to speak)—including those who are already traveling with no way to get home. If you're among them, or you had future tickets booked with the airline, here's what you can do.
You're Currently Traveling with WOW air Tickets, and Are Stranded
Some airlines will offer so-called rescue fares, which are discounted fares to get you home from your current location. Onetime competitor Icelandair is offering fares for stranded passengers for between $60 and $160 (before taxes and fees), depending on the route. These fares are available only if you have a return WOW air ticket for March 28 through April 11, and they’re subject to availability. You'll need to fill out a form and attach it your e-ticket to verify eligibility.
Other airlines that have stepped up include easyJet, Wizz air, Norwegian (25% off current fares), XL Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Aer Lingus. Details vary by carrier, and more airlines may join the list. It's especially worth checking on the airlines with the most seats available on your route. Pro tip: it's often easier to call to book these rescue fares. You’ll need a future WOW air ticket to qualify.
Bottom line: Run, don't walk, if you need this option.
You Had Tickets for a Future Trip with WOW air
Your next step in this scenario will depend on a few factors: Whom you booked with, how you paid, and whether you have travel insurance.
If you booked direct through WOW air: Your chances of getting a refund directly through WOW air are pretty much non-existent. You could file a claim in accordance with European rules on Air Passenger Rights, but there will be a long process before you see any money back (if you do at all). You'll enter a pool with all of the other creditors looking for their money from Wow air.
You can try to re-book through the airlines listed above, if you qualify for a rescue fare.
If you booked through a travel agent: Call the agent, who may be able to help you book into a new flight. If that's an option, expect to pay a bit more—those $99 one-way fares weren’t being matched by other airlines. Unless you’re locked into specific dates for travel, consider moving your travel dates so you can find the best possible fares.
If you booked a vacation package that included WOW air flights: European travelers who booked their flight as part of a tour package (flight + accommodations) with a European travel agent are protected by the Package Travel Directive, and can contact their travel agent to arrange an alternate flight. U.S. travelers don’t have the same option, unfortunately—but you should contact the tour packager anyway, to find out about possible solutions.
If you booked with a credit card company: Check with your credit card company to see if you can receive a full or partial refund for the flights. The credit card company may charge-back the flight, or your credit agreement may include insurance coverage for this scenario.
If you have travel insurance: Here's one scenario where your travel insurance policy is worth its weight in gold. Reach out to your provider to find out next steps for making a claim. Most policies will cover bankruptcy by the airline provider.
Keep an eye on the Icelandic Transportation Authority for more information. There's an extensive list of resources for passengers affected by the Wow air bankruptcy.
WOW air had burst onto the screen seven years ago, promising to bring sub-$100 fares and no-frills service to transatlantic flights. While fees could quickly add up for travelers looking to check bags, choose their seats, or eat on the plane, for those who just wanted a cheap flight on new planes—with the bonus option of a free Iceland stopover thrown in—it was a welcome entrant into the airfare marketplace. Many airlines had to adjust their pricing models, or decide to compete on service instead of price.
Seven years later, we found out that WOW air’s fares were ultimately just too good to be true.