Wow Airlines Isn’t Much Of A “wow” After The Collapse

Wow AirlinesPhoto: Aero Icarus

At least a thousand people were left stranded in European and North American airports after Wow Airlines ceased operations Thursday.

Wow Air grounded flights from seven cities to Iceland from Europe on Thursday morning. Meanwhile, at least six airports from North America had their Wow Airlines planes grounded on late evening, Friday.

In the aftermath of Wow Airlines’ sudden collapse and shut down, the airline company left no word with their passengers other than a banner in their seemingly normal website. If you noticed, the banner says “WOW AIR has ceased operation. All WOW AIR flights have been canceled” with a link to a travel alert.

Passengers were apparently left uninformed about the sudden grounding of all Wow Air passenger planes. Some went to the airport trying to get on their flights but none of the Wow on-ground attendants were able to accommodate them. As expected, all of the stranded passengers were angry and disappointed.

Moreover, Wow Air simply suggested in their travel alert that stranded customers to look for flights elsewhere with other airline companies with the possibility of a “so-called rescue fares” that rival companies will be offering, often at a discount.

The Collapse

Wow Air is a too-good-to-be-true budget airline company that offers relatively cheap flights across the Atlantic Ocean, specifically for travel to Iceland. Its main cities were Reykjavik, London, Paris, New York and Washington, D.C. Reportedly, you can purchase a flight from the U.S. to Europe for as low as $200.

The airline company, founded in 2011 and took its first flight in 2012, remarkably had a rapid growthdue to their low ticket prices and a marketing campaign aimed at making Iceland a popular destination for foreign travelers.

They were able to fly people across 16 cities in 2015 and by 2018, it offered flights to 36 destinations in Europe, North America, and Asia. The company reported a 60 percent increase in passenger numbers. The carrier employed more than 1,000 people the same year and gave cheap travels to around 3.5 million passengers.

However, with the decline of tourist traffic towards Iceland, Wow Air’s profits also started to struggle all the while still trying to maintain their ultra cheap flights.

By 2019, the number of planes was cut from 20 to 11 and the company stopped serving several cities, including some in the United States. It also cut jobs.

The company tried to keep the company afloat awaiting deals with Icelandair to acquire its entire share capital but Icelandair reconsidered their position and the deal collapsed along with Wow Air.

As a result, more than 1,000 people will lose their jobs. “I will never forgive myself for not acting sooner,” Mogensen said in a letter to employees Thursday. “WOW was clearly an incredible airline, and we were on the path to doing amazing things again.”

What You Can Do

As advised by Wow Air, you can contact your credit card companies for flights purchased through their credit cards. From there you can possibly make convesations regarding policies for unforeseen instances such as an entire airline going bankrupt. In the case of recently purchased tickets, you might be able to stop payment.

For passengers who booked their flights via a travel agency or partner airlines, especially if it’s a vacation package, check your eligibility for a refund, advises AirHelp, which helps airline passengers claim airline compensation.

The Icelandic Airport Authority says passengers who bought their ticket from a European travel agent as a part of a package tour are protected by the Package Travel Directive. Those passengers are advised to contact their travel agent to arrange an alternative flight. 

Lastly, if you booked your flight along with insurance, you might as well read the fine print and check for possible solutions and compensation for the inconvenience.

On the other hand, in light of the situation, Airline companies like Iceladair, United Airline, Norwegian Air, and Aer Lingus are offering discounted flights for passengers affected by Wow Air’s sudden collapase.

But beware the fine print. 

  • United Airlines and its Star Alliance partners are offering discounted fares on a variety of routes for WOW passengers for tickets purchased through April 12. The tickets are valid for travel through April 30. Tickets can only be purchased through United’s reservations center at 800-864-8331.Travelers must provide their WOW Air booking information including flight number.
  • Icelandair’s offer of $160 fares between North America and Europe only applies to travelers whose trips are already underway, with a return ticket on WOW between March 28 and April 11. Travelers need to fill out an online form and then call 800-223 5500 to book the discounts.
  • Norwegian’s offer of 25 percent off select routes  applies to WOW passengers holding tickets for travel on those routes between March 29 and April 8, spokesman Anders Lindstrom said. The routes include Boston-Paris, Boston-London, Newark-Barcelona and New York-London. The offer cannot be booked online. Travelers must call the airline’s call center at 800-357-4159.
  • Irish carrier Aer Lingus is offering special “rescue” fares for WOW travelers holding tickets for travel through April 11. They can be booked by calling 516-622-4222 from the United States. Aer Lingus says WOW passengers scheduled to fly after April 12 will find regular ticket prices starting at $569 round trip between the U.S. and Canada and Europe.

Additionally, companies like travel booking app Hopper also offered, through text and in-app notifications, to reimburse Wow Air customers who booked using their platform. The company will also cover rebooking costs for any stranded passengers.

Also, U.S. budget bus company, Megabus, is offering stranded passengers free rides across cities to get to airports with rebooked flights or alternate travel plans.

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