WOW flew me to Iceland but left my winter clothes behind in Boston

Adam Shulman and his wife recently traveled to beautiful Iceland. The only problem was that the Shulmans’ baggage, which included their winter clothes, didn’t make the trip.

Shulman knew there would be a problem as soon as he got in the check-in line at Boston’s Logan Airport. “There was only one person available to check in the entire flight,” he said. “We tried to warn the staff and then called WOW Air’s main number, but we were ignored and told to ‘calm down.’ As a result, we did not even reach the counter until 10 minutes before the departure time, the flight was late and our bags did not make it with us.”

Shulman filed a claim with the airline the moment they realized that their luggage hadn’t made the flight to Reykjavik. In the meantime, without any clothing to wear, and an average temperature of about 28 to 37 F at the time, the couple went out and purchased clothing, including winter jackets. In all, they spent about $375.

Despite the airline’s best efforts, the Shulmans did not receive their bags until they returned home. They followed up with the airline to expedite a refund for their expenses. But they were very disappointed when WOW offered them significantly less than they had expected.

A check of WOW Air’s website regarding Delayed or Damaged Baggage describes the airline’s policy regarding lost or damaged luggage. However, there is no mention of how WOW Air compensates passengers who are forced to purchase new clothing to replace those lost in transit.

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Meanwhile, the airline responded to Shulman’s claim by offering him 60 percent of what he paid for what WOW Air’s representatives called “essential items.” Shulman was frustrated with the airline’s response and pressed them to define what the airline considered “essential.” After not getting what he considered a sufficient response, he and WOW Air representatives exchanged several emails in which Shulman reiterated his point, and the company repeated its offer. Shulman didn’t help his case by typing many words in all capital letters, which is the equivalent of shouting.

Unfortunately, WOW Air stuck to their guns, and Shulman ended up contacting us to see if we could help advocate his case.

The airline’s representative told our advocate that Shulman, in fact, was receiving a larger percentage of compensation than is normally offered. WOW Air’s policy is that they compensate 50 percent of “essential expenses,” but in this case, Shulman was offered 60 percent as “goodwill.”

WOW also reminded Shulman that most of the items purchased in Iceland, such as winter jackets, could be used again, and that that is the basis for the airline offering travelers only a portion of the expenses made replacing lost or delayed items.

In the end, our advocate told Shulman that there was nothing more we could do for him. He received compensation of $108 for the purchased items, as well as a $140 refund for baggage fees, for a total of $248 compensation.

It wasn’t what Shulman had desired, but at least it was something. We’re sorry for the hassle the Shulmans went through on their Icelandic vacation. But, at least they got some reimbursement for their troubles.

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Mark Pokedoff

Four-time Emmy-award-winning television sports production specialist and frequent traveler. Longtime freelance writer and travel blog enthusiast. Proud papa of four amazing kids who have been upgraded to first class more than all their friends combined.

  • Bill___A

    Maybe the clothing could be “used again” but the purchase would have been 100% unnecessary had WOW air not skimped on check in personnel.

  • Two coats are useless. You can only wear one at a time so this purchase was over and above their needs. Clothing purchased in emergency situations are rarely the cut, color, style that one would purchase if you were shopping for your main winter coat. WOWs argument that they can wear the clothing again is specious. They don’t need 2 coats!
    WOW created this expense and should be responsible for 100% of the cost. After all, $375 for two winter coats a very reasonable cost.

  • Grandma

    As a frequent South California – Chicago commuter, my recommendation: ALWAYS have warm clothes on you or in your carry-on if you travel to a cold(er) place.
    I learned this in the hard way: once arriving to DC at the start of a blizzard: my baggae was delayed, and for 3 days NOTHING was open to buy warm clothes….
    As for WOW Air’s policy: I do understand, if there is a limit on the amount an airline pay, but this 50% rule for basic, inexpensive purchases sounds ridiculous.

  • AAGK

    Or a relative could have gone to their home and sent some more clothes, fedex overnight priority for $100. Also, sounds like they arrived late to the airport. Unclear why the airline didnt send the bags on the next flight.
    I also don’t understand 60% of essentials. Why not 100% of essentials if it’s going to take the position that a winter vacation wardrobe is not essential anyway.

  • AJPeabody

    Seems like we are seeing a lot of WOW woes. Are they becoming the European Spirit of this site?

  • greg watson

    I am suspecting that maybe all their clothing was in the suitcases…………………………..& other things, or am I missing something ?

  • Kristiana Lee

    What time did they get to the airport? Did they arrive the recommended 3 hours for international flights and it took 2 hours and 50 minutes to check in? That said, I’ve read enough here to not fly WOW.

  • disqus_00YDCZxqDV

    Yes, my wife wants to visit Iceland -if we ever do go, it won’t be on WOW Air.

  • Annie M

    Use Delta. Even Iceland Air has their problems.

  • Bill___A

    I agree with much of what you’re saying but if UPS charges almost $100 to overnight an envelope to Canada, I don’t imagine FEDEX can send winter clothes to Iceland for $100. We don’t know how early they were at the airport for their flight. But if they accepted their check in, they should have accepted their bags and got them there, or the airline should be responsible.

  • Michael__K

    ALWAYS have warm clothes on you or in your carry-on if you travel to a cold(er) place.

    Slight problem: WOW charges $40 to $100 extra per carry-on bag…..

  • jamieleeeeee

    you’re assuming they each already own 2 winter jackets and 2 pairs of winter boots, etc. And that they have a relative that has access to their house and ability to front the money to ship it to them.

  • AAGK

    It was just an idea that may be helpful to other travelers. I agree WOW undercompensated. I also always bring my coat on the plane.

  • AAGK

    I’ve been in situations where I was able to check in only bc I wasn’t checking luggage but if that were the case, they should’ve been warned that was a possibility.

  • JewelEyed

    Coats count as personal items and one can easily wear flip flops in the airport, change into winter shoes to get on the plane, store the flip flops in your little personal item backpack that goes under the seat, and switch back on the plane if your feet get too warm, no?

  • AJPeabody

    So they freeze for a day or stay in the hotel waiting for Fedex? Orwill it be two days?

  • Lindabator

    wear it on, then take it off when onboard

  • Chris Johnson

    Wasn’t there another horror story about this airline a few weeks or months ago? They seem to be on the same level of RyanAir – theoretically you can save a lot of money by flying them, but you are gambling in doing so and if something goes wrong, you end up paying far more than you would have at a regular legacy airline. This airline, just like RyanAir, won’t ever get the chance to disappoint me.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Fedex for a 5lb package (not very much at all) to Iceland is $248 for overnight service.

  • BubbaJoe123

    While I understand the rationale of “the items can be used again,” a reasonable response to that would be “fine, then I’ll mail them to you, so I can’t use them again, and you can reimburse me the full value.”

  • BubbaJoe123

    Those recommended times are wildly excessive, and have no legal or regulatory force. WOW’s checkin cutoff is 45 minutes before departure. If they arrived at the counter before that, WOW has no excuse for not transporting them and their baggage.

  • JMorgana

    How is $108 60% of the $375 they paid? Regardless of the $140 refund in baggage fees (which should have been automatic), this sounds like more airline math to me! :)

  • Michael__K

    According to their contract you still pay. Unless it’s a small coat (shorter than 40 cm) that fits within their personal item specs and you stow it under the seat (and you forego any other personal item….)
    Their contract is worse than Spirit’s in disregard (Spirit explicitly exempts outer garments). All the US carriers seem to exempt outer garments so that might be a US regulation which might apply to WOW’s flights from the US, but I can’t find any written disclosure of this. Can you?

  • Sharon

    $375 for warm clothes purchased in Iceland for two people is being extremely economical! Reykjavik doesn’t have any stores equivalent to Walmart, TJ MAXX, even Macy’s etc. etc. and finding one warm sweater for less than $100 would be considered a bargain. So $375 total for 1 sweater/jacket/ or coat, 1 pair of jeans/slacks and a pair of boots per person is almost downright impossible. And that would be without including the $140 baggage fee they paid for baggage they never received during their vacation.

  • Michael__K

    If coats count as personal items then you can’t ALSO have a backpack as a personal item.
    And if your coat is taller than 40cm then WOW’s contract says it CANNOT be a personal item.

  • Fred

    Wow, Easyjet, Spirit…etc. When will people understand “there is no free lunch”. If you pay next to nothing for your travel services, you get next to nothing in return in the way of customer service.

    Example: Sofitel Hotels and Motel6 are owned by the same parent company. But the less you pay, the less you can expect to have delivered in services. When my clients ask for a “bargain”, I remind them that a bargain is also often not a good “value”.

  • AAGK

    That doesn’t sound so bad, actually. I would’ve just shopper. Wow undercompensated for sure.

  • AAGK

    Omg- in what world do you not carry your coat on the plane when flying somewhere cold and FedEx guarantees delivery by 8 am to the hotel mail room. They can wait where ever they want. I had 4 fedexes on vacation this month and you do not actually have to wait. I selected overnight priority.

    The airline undercompensated however expecting a new winter wardrobe is unreasonable. I forgot how long the trip was but if under 10 days, they should’ve carried on.

  • AAGK

    Yes!!! I always travel with my coat. I couldn’t agree more.

  • AAGK

    Not if you are wearing it through security.

  • AAGK

    Yes you can!!!

  • Michael__K

    Security doesn’t care about your airline’s fees and rules. It’s the airline employees including the in-flight crew who would insist you pay up if you want to store it on board.

  • Michael__K

    Based on what documentation do you believe you can?

  • joycexyz

    We also bring outerwear on the plane…not because we think the bags won’t arrive, but because it’s cold getting off the plane. And WOW’s stingy “offer” is unacceptable. The fact that they will use the clothing again is irrelevant. Whenever luggage is lost or delayed the passengers need to buy items they probably will use again. The point is that if they had their luggage they wouldn’t have needed to buy the stuff. The more I hear about WOW the more I think it’s in a class with Spirit, et al,–a no-fly zone.

  • joycexyz

    Yeah, but, it does require some arranging. Might not be so easy. The point is, WOW is trying to weasel out of a reasonable obligation. I don’t think $375 is an outrageous amount for outerwear and other warm clothes.

  • joycexyz

    Very good idea!

  • joycexyz

    I’m guessing they arrived in time, but the OP says there was only one agent at check-in. Poor management on WOW’s part.

  • joycexyz

    I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, a lot of people need to learn the hard way.

  • Kristiana Lee

    If I’d arrived hours early in this situation I’d have emphasized that in my appeal to WOW and That said, I’m open to the idea that that was edited out.

  • JewelEyed

    Well, that’s interesting, because I’ve never had a problem with a backpack under the seat and a coat on my lap. Actually, the coat gets stuffed in the backpack when my travel pillow comes out most of the time.

  • Michael__K

    Have you tried that on WOW? Not saying you would necessarily have a problem, but the distinction is that WOW’s published policies, unlike all the US airlines (as of the last time I checked), doesn’t document any exemption for items such as outer garments.

  • AAGK

    None. I dress how I want on a plane.

  • Michael__K

    If you plan to take if off and store it somewhere then it’s not just about how you dress.

  • Mark

    This is surely a classic “travel insurance” job?

  • RightNow9435

    And after that, you take it off and store it under the seat

  • AAGK

    I tend to just take the arms off and sit on it and end up with it all wrinkly. I think they will even let you just hang it in the front too if you ask nicely.

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