WOW Air Explainer: What can I do if my flights are cancelled?

WOW Air Explainer: What can I do if my flights are cancelled?

Q&A: Travel Editor Pól Ó Conghaile looks at your options for cancelled and delayed flights

WOW Air - flying direct from Ireland to Iceland
WOW Air – flying direct from Ireland to Iceland

Icelandic carrier WOW air has ceased to operate this morning, grounding all flights and leaving affected passengers stranded.

What’s going on?

WOW Air has collapsed, cancelling all flights with immediate effect.

Thousands of passengers are reported to have been left stranded as a result, with affected routes including a popular Dublin-Keflavík service.

Read the details of WOW air’s collapse here.

What flights have been affected?

All of them. WOW has stopped operating as an airline, so anybody travelling now, or booked to travel with the airline, faces disruption.

WOW is offering some advice on its website here.

What can I do if my flight is cancelled?

Normally, when flights are cancelled, airlines must offer you the choice between re-routing or a full refund.

However, the situation differs when an airline collapses.

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On its website, WOW has advised passengers that have booked with it 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,” it says, adding that “information on those airlines will be published, when it becomes available”.

“If you did not purchase your ticket as part of a package, you are advised to self-repatriate by booking directly with other airlines,” adds the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR).

What are ‘rescue fares’?

‘Rescue’ or repatriation fares are voluntarily provided by airlines when a carrier goes bust – they are aimed at helping a situation, so should be reasonably priced.

Aer Lingus will offer rescue fares from Ireland to the US or Canada for customers booked to fly with WOW up to April 11, it says (those wishing to avail should call 1890 800 600 after 18.30 on March 28).

Norwegian has also said it will offer “repatriation fares” from tomorrow, set at a 25pc discount off net economy fares. The fares will be available to April 8 to customers that can show a valid WOW air booking on certain routes.

IcelandAir is also worth watching, as is easyJet.

If you booked through a code-share partner of WOW air, CAR ( advises contacting them directly to see if they can help with refunds or re-routing.

Can I get my money back?

If you booked your flights using a debit or credit card, your first step should be to contact the card provider – chargeback options exist to allow you to reverse a transaction if there is a problem with the purchase.

As a rule, credit cards tend to offer more protections than debit cards. Terms & Conditions may apply to such cover, of course.

If you booked your flights through a travel agent or tour operator, you should contact them directly now – package holidays are protected precisely for reasons like this, but agents should also be able to help you with any re-routings.

Can I claim compensation?

That is unclear at this time.

“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,” WOW has said.

If you booked directly with WOW, however, you may not be able to claim added compensation – as is usually the case when airlines cancel flights cancel flights for reasons like weather events or industrial action.

Will my travel insurance help?

If you have ‘scheduled airline failure’ cover on your policy, you will be able to claim, but not all policies offer this as standard.

It’s best practice in situations like this to call your insurer off the bat, keep a note of details, and keep hold of receipts (see below).

Is it too late to take out travel insurance?

Yes, for this case – but it’s always a good idea for the future.

Travel Disruption cover can be added retrospectively to a policy, for example, but not to claim on an event that has already happened (or been forecast).

Any other tips?

If you go ahead and rebook flights yourself, and buy meals or accommodation as you seek to overcome travel disruption, keep the receipts. You may need these for any compensation or insurance claims.

Bear in mind that receipts should be for “reasonable expenses”. A five-star hotel or Michelin Star meal may not be a reasonable expense!

Read more:

WOW Air has ceased operation – cancelling all flights with immediate effect

Online Editors