WOW, where is my baggage fee refund?

Jacqueline Heller is bumped from a flight that’s overbooked, but she can’t get the airline to refund her baggage fee. Can our advocates help?

Question: My daughter and I purchased tickets on WOW Air to fly from Miami to Berlin. We flew from Atlanta to Miami on Delta Air Lines to make the WOW flight. After arriving in Miami, we were told that the flight was overbooked. We spent three days in a hotel and flew back to Atlanta on American Airlines.

WOW never contacted us, so we filed a claim. After waiting more than 10 weeks, WOW reimbursed us for the flight and paid us 600 euros (about $703) because of EU261 regulations. But, it did not refund the $110 luggage fee. WOW never touched our luggage, and we paid for a service that we never got. WOW should refund the baggage fee and reimburse us for the cost of the tickets to fly to and from Miami to Atlanta. Can you help? — Jacqueline Heller, Acworth, Ga.

Answer: When WOW overbooked the flight and bumped you and your daughter, you were both entitled to a refund of the full amount that you had paid WOW. That includes the pre-paid baggage fees. The refund should have been automatic, and you shouldn’t have had to seek help to get your money back.

But, before asking for help from our advocates, you could have tried to contact executives from the airline for help. Our website lists executive contact information for WOW Air. A polite email to one of the airline’s executives may have resulted in the refund. And, you could have posted your question to our help forums. Our forums, which are staffed by travel industry experts, and often read by company executives. Our forum advocates may have given you helpful advice about resolving the issue.

Related story:   My travel agent neglected to inform me of my schedule change

You also asked our advocates to help you get reimbursed for the cost of the round-trip flights to and from Miami. Our advocates declined to assist you with that part of your request because WOW isn’t responsible for your cost to get to the city where its flight originates. Our advocates contacted WOW on your behalf and it informed us that you would receive the refund for the baggage fees. We’re happy that we could help with that resolution.

Diane Perera

Diane and her family love to travel, and they do so as much as they can. Having experienced the downside of travel, and having learned so much from, led Diane to become an advocate and to help fight the good fight.

  • SirWIred

    I would have added a US DOT complaint to the mix; it’s not too late to do so. They should have refunded the fee along with the fare.

  • Alan Gore

    Insurance would have repaid the cost of the Delta trip-in-vain.

  • Michael__K

    Which insurance policy do you believe would cover this? These were separate itineraries and IDB is not covered by insurance, it’s covered by laws.

  • Michael__K

    Hold on. This is a special case where US Dept of Transportation IDB compensation and EC 261 compensation overlap. The passenger is entitled to whichever amount is greater. If this customer’s one-way fare from MIA to BER was more than $175.75 (which seems very likely), then they are owed more — 400% of their one-way fare, up to $1,350.
    And the passenger was supposed to receive this compensation, and written notice of their rights, on the spot.

    This case cries out for a complaint to the US Department of Transportation:

  • Alan Gore

    Travel insurance wouldn’t have covered a simple trip-in-vain case like this? It keeps turning out to be worse than I thought.

  • Michael__K

    It would cover expenses like a hotel room. If they were headed to a cruise, and this problem would have resulted in them missing 50+% of their cruise, then it probably would have covered that. But the Common Carriers are responsible for their own failures to perform. And since the ATL->MIA itinerary was booked separately, then Delta and AA performed their obligations and would not consider this a Trip in Vain.

  • Steve Rabin

    Just out of curiosity–is there anything preventing people from trying to double dip and getting compensation under both US and EU law? The airline is covered under both sets of laws when leaving from the US. Not saying this is ethical or that the airlines would pay both, just curious.

    And I agree, the OP probably should have gotten more out of EU 261 compensation than the minimum 600 eur

  • Michael__K

    Article 3(b) of EC 261 exempts a Community Carrier from their EU obligations if they provided benefits or compensation and assistance in a non-Member State departure country.
    I’m not aware of any US regulation that specifically addresses overlapping compensation with another jurisdiction.

  • Alan Gore

    Yes, Delta did its job here and LW will presumably get fully refunded by WOW for its failure to deliver. But wouldn’t a travel policy on the trip as a whole insure against the connection not being made through no fault of the insured?

  • Michael__K

    No, and that’s my main gripe about travel insurance. If the problem doesn’t fall under a Covered Reason then it makes no difference if it’s not your fault.

  • Lindabator

    correct – if they had continued on after the three days, it would have covered any losses they incurred during those three days overseas (hotels, transfers, tours), but turning back home on a separate carrier – nope

  • Lindabator

    It would if they had either continued on their trip, or had incurred a loss of over 50% of the cruise/tour due to the snafu. However, turning around and going home – nope

  • LeeAnneClark

    Wow, WOW really sucks!

    I almost booked a WOW flight to Ireland this summer, as the price was fantastic. Changed my mind at the last minute – seemed too good to be true. Wow am I glad I didn’t fly WOW!

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