WOW Air Ceases Operations Effective Immediately — and What to Do

All operations of WOW Air — which is the ultra-low-cost airline that has served Iceland since Thursday, May 31, 2012 — have ceased as of today, Thursday, March 28, 2019, leaving passengers either stranded or scrambling as to what to do.

WOW Air Ceases Operations Effective Immediately — and What to Do

WOW Air headquarters

The building which houses the headquarters of WOW Air in Reykjavik. Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Despite numerous attempts in recent months to secure additional funding in order to continue operations and flights of the troubled ultra-low-cost carrier — which was founded in November of 2011 — none have been successful, which has caused the airline to cease operations.

This travel alert is currently in effect at the official Internet web site of WOW Air:

TRAVEL ALERT

End of Operation of WOW AIR

Information for WOW AIR passengers

WOW AIR has ceased operation. All WOW AIR flights have been cancelled.

How will I reach my destination?

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.

What are my rights?

Passengers whose ticket was paid with a credit card are advised to contact their credit card company to check whether a refund of the ticket cost will be issued.Passengers who bought their ticket from a European travel agent (within the European Economic Area) as a part of a package tour (a package which includes flights and accommodation or other services) are protected by the Package Travel Directive. Those passengers are advised to contact their travel agent to arrange an alternative flight.

Passengers who may have bought travel protection, or those passengers whose credit card terms may include such protection, may be entitled to claim compensation and assistance due to delays or travel disruption. However, such compensation is often limited.

Passengers may also be entitled to compensation from WOW AIR, including in accordance with European regulation on Air Passenger Rights. In case of a bankruptcy, claims should be filed to the administrator / liquidator.

Where can I get up-to-date information?

This announcement will be published and continuously updated on the following websites:
– Icelandic Transport Authority: www.samgongustofa.is / www.icetra.is
– Keflavik Airport: www.isavia.is/en
– WOW AIR: www.wowair.com
– Posted at all relevant airports
General information about passenger rights can be found at www.icetra.is

Information to passengers .pdf

Upplýsingar til farþega .pdf

28.03.2019

Reactions of Some Affected Customers

WOW Air headquarters

The building which houses the headquarters of WOW Air in Reykjavik. Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Customers have been expressing their anger and venting their frustrations on social media.

https://twitter.com/seoighea/status/1111253066186137606

What to Do If You Are Affected as a Passenger

At the time this article was written, seven airlines are offering assistance to stranded passengers of WOW Air.

Aer Lingus is the latest airline to offer special fares to stranded passengers.

Special fares are available to anyone affected by the news from today. If you booked with WOW and you need an alternative flight, please call. We’ll do our best to help.  1890 800600  +353 1886 8822  0333 006 6920  516 622 4222  800 474 7424

Virgin Atlantic Airways is also offering special fares:

Virgin Atlantic has introduced special rescue fares to assist WOW Air’s customers stranded in the UK, US, or Canada. The airline is advising any customers in need to call 0344 8747747 in the UK  or +1 800 862 8621 in the U.S.  Bookings can be made from 28th March up until 6th April, 2019 with travel available up to the 30th April, 2019.  To access these fares,  impacted customers will need to show proof of their previous WOW Air booking for the same origin and destination, named customers, and travel dates in March or April 2019.

Information pertaining to “rescue fares” which have been offered by other airlines has been posted at the official Internet web site of the Icelandic Transport Authority — and this list is constantly being updated with airlines being added and other information to assist affected passengers; so check it as often as possible.

Click on the names of the airlines for access to their official Internet web sites.

Icelandair

Icelandair has announced that the airline will assist stranded passengers by providing discounted fares to and from the following cities:
EUROPE:
Amsterdam – Berlin – Brussels – Copenhagen – Dublin – Frankfurt – Glasgow – Hamborg – Helsinki – London – Oslo – Paris.

North America:
Boston – Edmonton – New York – Toronto – Washington DC.
(London: LGW/LHR – New York: EWR/JFK)

Update from Icelandair:

Website for stranded passsengers:  icelandair.is/getmehome 

What kind of rescue fares is Icelandair offering?
Icelandair is offering a discount fare for stranded passengers. Europe leg flat rate 60USD (excluding taxes and fees) US/Canada leg 100USD flat rate (excluding taxes and fees).

Procedure for stranded customers
1. Fill out the online form  www.icelandair.com/getmehome or send an email to  getmehome@icelandair.is with all relevant information.
2. Attach a digital copy of the WOW air flight ticket to the form. Please note: to take advantage of this option, this is a necessary step.
3. Follow the instructions in the confirmation email.

How does Icelandair define stranded passenger?
A stranded passenger is a passenger who took an outbound flight before the operations of WOW Air ceased and is stranded away from their home. This applies equally to passengers who purchased round trip tickets and passengers who only purchased a one-way ticket with WOW air to return home. To be able to qualify for special reduced rates passengers must be travelling back home within the specified time frame, origin (city) and destination (city) as the original WOW air ticket.

Easyjet

Easyjet has announced that the airline will assist stranded passengers by providing discounted fares:

EasyJet will be offering WOW air customers a rescue fare on flights between LTN and KEF, and LGW and KEF, with details as follows:

Rescue fee 110GBP/17000ISK (include hold bag)
Routes: LTN KEF, LGW KEF
Valid to travel travel over the next on/before 14Apr
Tkt must be issued over next on/before 07Apr

EasyJet is working to assist affected passengers booked on flights between Keflavik and London Stansted and we will be offering a dedicated rescue fare of £110 (17000ISK) including hold baggage to enable affected customers to travel with easyJet between London Luton or London Gatwick and Keflavik up to 14 April 2019. Tickets must be issued on or before 7 April 2019.

Passengers can contact easyJet’s customer service to benefit from this rescue fare, available upon presentation of their original WOW booking reference.

To contact a members of Customer Services, please call:
+44 (0) 330 365 5030

Norwegian

Norwegian offers rescue fares with 25% off current economy fares on the below overlapping routes, available for flights from tomorrow. For travel until 08 april 2019 – need to provide a valid WOW-booking on the same sector.

Between London/LGW and Boston/BOS
Between London/LGW and New York/JFK
Between Paris/CDG and Boston/BOS
Between Paris/CDG and New York/JFK
Between Copenhagen/CPH and New York/JFK
Between Amsterdam/AMS and New York/JFK

Wizz air

Wizz Air announces special fares for WOW Air customers whose flights from or to Reykjavík, further information can be found on their website.   From Wizzair:

“Affected WOW Air passengers can take advantage of a special fare with Wizz Air, which operates four flights per week from Reykjavík to London-Luton and Warsaw, of GBP 74.99/EUR 79.99*. This rescue fare is valid for travel up to 10 May 2019 and is subject to availability on each flight. Bookings can be made via Wizz Air’s special rescue fare site at https://wizzair.com/#/rescue until 7 April 2019. Customers will need to provide evidence of their bookings with WOW Air for the London (any airport)/Warsaw routes.”  See here

XL Airways

From XL Airways:

END OF OPERATIONS OF WOW AIR:
XL AIRWAYS OFFERS RESCUE FARES ON
NEW YORK-PARIS ROUTE

Following the end of operations of Icelandic airline WOW AIR, XL Airways offers exceptional commercial measures to assist passengers holding a WOW AIR ticket on the New York-Paris route.

– For trips from April 6th to April 30th, 2019: passengers may travel stand by on XL Airways flights to/from New York. A unique fare of USD 130 / 100 € per flight will be applied.
– For trips from May 1st to June June 28th, 2019, discounts up to 30% compared to public fares available on the selected dates will be applied.

These rescue fares are available for departures from New York and from Paris. They can be applied to one-way or return trips.

Bookings must be made through the airline’s call centers:
– From the US: +1 877 496 9889 (toll free)
– From France: 0 892 692 123 (0,35 €/min + cost of call)

This offer is subject to the presentation of WOW AIR tickets valid for travels on or after March 28th, 2019.

See here:  https://www.xl.com/en/actualites

Also, all Hopper customers who were booked with WOW Air will be refunded in full. Hopper will also be paying the full cost of rebooking for all of its stranded passengers in transit. You’ll receive a text message from our team with further instructions.

Letting Market Forces Prevail

WOW Air headquarters

The building which houses the headquarters of WOW Air in Reykjavik. Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The collapse of WOW Air is yet another stark reminder that market forces will ultimately dictate the fate of companies. Legacy carriers based in the United States have publicly campaigned to actively prevent ultra-low-cost carriers based in other countries from serving the United States in the past.

The rapid expansion of Norwegian Air Shuttle is not without controversy, as strong opposition to the growth of the airline back in 2016 was due to concerns pertaining to the low-cost carrier having an unfair advantage over airlines based in the United States — but that was before the concept of Basic Economy airfares was to be considered for international flights.

Additionally, investors have been concerned that Norwegian Air Shuttle has been growing too rapidly — and that airline currently has its own issues pertaining to its survival.

Meanwhile, several other airlines have already collapsed in recent years. Primera Air ceased operations on Tuesday, October 2, 2018 — joining other defunct airlines such as WindJetAir NigeriaSpanairMalév Hungarian AirlinesAir AustraliaMonarch Airlines, and airberlin.

Learning about the demise of a commercial airline is unfortunate news — especially at a time when some airlines are experiencing record profits due to the advent of ancillary fees.

Summary

WOW Air headquarters

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

You may want to try contacting an airline with which you prefer to fly as a passenger — but is not included on the aforementioned list — to see if you can get a special fare. While the chances are unlikely that your request will be granted, it never hurts to at least try.

Also, contact your travel agent, the company which issued your credit card, or provider of your travel insurance for assistance with refunds or rebooking your flights.

One option which I would not consider is legal action against the now-defunct airline, as that course of action would likely be little more than an aggravating waste of time and money.

If you are one of the customers affected by the sudden shutdown of WOW Air, try to look on the bright side: your ticket probably did not cost you much money in relation to those offered by competitors; so your loss is not substantial — and the cost of travel insurance might not have done much to defray the loss.

To better protect yourself in the future from having a similar situation happening to you, consider patronizing a low-cost carrier which is backed by a larger company. For example, Transavia — which has its own issues — is operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airways; and both Level Airlines and Vueling are operated by International Airlines Group, which is the parent company of British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus. You can read about my experience as a passenger on an airplane operated by Vueling last year in this article.

Approximately 1,500 employees are also affected by the end of operations of WOW Air — and unfortunately, instead of seeing the parking lot at the world headquarters of WOW Air like this…

WOW Air headquarters

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

…it will be more like this…

WOW Air headquarters

Empty parking spots at the headquarters of WOW Air in Reykjavik — even if they are for guests. Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

My thoughts are with the employees as well as the passengers who are affected by what some consider to be the end of an era.

All photographs ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

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