WOW Air, why are you ignoring my claim?

WOW Air misplaces Zack Kimble’s luggage on a trip to Iceland. When Kimble submits a claim for reimbursement of the replacement items he had to buy, WOW demands documentation that Kimble’s claim isn’t being covered by travel insurance — which he doesn’t have. Can we persuade WOW to forgo the documentation and reimburse Kimble for his luggage delay?

Question: My wife and I flew to Iceland on WOW Air for a camping trip last June, but our luggage didn’t arrive for four days. During that time it was cold and raining, and we had to pay $651 to purchase replacement clothing and toiletries while we were in Iceland. We had travel insurance, but it did not cover delayed luggage. Neither did the credit card we used to pay for the trip.

I filed a request for compensation for these expenses with WOW and sent copies of my receipts to support this claim. WOW asked for proof that I was not reimbursed by my credit card or travel insurance, but I can’t provide this. Although I’ve followed up with WOW for months, including using your executive contact information, the airline has not since responded to my claim.

Can you help me turn up the heat on WOW and get it to reimburse me without asking for additional documentation that my claim is not being otherwise covered by an outside party? — Zack Kimble, Atlanta

Answer: Brrrr! A camping trip in Iceland without warm clothing definitely isn’t my idea of a fun trip. Neither is being ignored after submitting a claim for compensation with the documentation you have.

Related story:   Ejected from my seat on Air Canada

Unfortunately, we do see airlines, especially international ones, stonewall lost luggage claims. You suggested, and our advocates agree, that WOW’s request for proof that your claim isn’t being covered by insurance might be such a delaying tactic.

As you noted in your request for our assistance, the Montreal Convention, which covers the liability of air carriers for international flights, indicates that “The carrier is liable for damage occasioned by delay in the carriage by air of passengers, baggage or cargo.”

Article 22 of the Montreal Convention provides for reimbursement of up to 1,000 Special Drawing Rights (about $1,410) for each passenger. Your claim falls within these limits. Moreover, the Montreal Convention contains no language that allows air carriers subject to its provisions to require proof of noncoverage by insurance or third parties.

You also noted that when travel insurance covers delayed or missing luggage, it usually does so after reimbursement by the travel company. So even if your missing luggage was covered, you probably couldn’t have come up with the documentation that WOW demanded.

Because the executive contacts we list for WOW Air didn’t respond to your claim, you asked our advocates for help in getting WOW to respond.

Our advocates reached out to WOW Air on your behalf. WOW offered you $306 as compensation for your delayed luggage. Although this is only a portion of your total claim, you are happy with this resolution.

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

  • finance_tony

    I guess they ask a valid question, but how would one prove s/he was NOT compensated by another source?

  • Steve Rabin

    Tony, I disagree…WOW’s responsibilities under the Montreal Convention (and in fact under EU261…even though Iceland is not part of the EU, they do follow the EU regs on this one) says that they must pay up if they delay the bags for a significant amount of time. What I would like to know is how they calculated the $307 WOW finally did pay out. I think the OP is at least should find that out, since he’s still out over $300 that he shouldn’t have to pay out.

    And the point by WOW of asking if travel insurance covers this is completely irrelevant…nowhere in the regs does it absolve the carriers of responsibility if the pax has insurance. It’s actually the other way around.

  • Annie M

    I agree that they owe him more. Why couldn’t he just produce a copy of the policy he bought showing there was no coverage?

  • AJPeabody

    I suspect that the reduction to $307 was due to considering that the Kimbles retained the clothing etc. and therefore retained the value of the (now used) goods. And I suspect they agreed to accept the offer for the same reason.

  • Steve Rabin

    I tend to agree with you, but I think it is really slimy of WOW to ask if their insurance would cover it. That is nothing but a stall tactic to hopefully get them out of paying. There is nothing relevant nor I suspect legal about them asking that question. They are simply trying to weasel out of paying what the laws require.

  • KennyG

    Many commenters are saying that having or not having insurance to reimburse for the lost luggage is irrelevant and WOW was on the hook for the loss in any event. However, as Jennifer quoted, ““The carrier is liable for damage occasioned by delay in the carriage by air of passengers, baggage or cargo.”” If the PAX was reimbursed by some kind of insurance, then they in fact suffered no damages, or if partially reimbursed than that would have mitigated some of their damages. WOW is within their rights, IMHO, to accurately determine the amount of damages suffered by the PAX.

  • IGoEverywhere

    If there was insurance on the trip, what kind? I have never seen a policy that was trip insurance that did not cover delayed baggage. Now if they had straight airline ticket insurance that they bought with their ticket, then they might not be covered.
    Lost luggage is not uncommon, but I sure would have wanted to be compensated for all of my expenses.

  • IGoEverywhere

    !) I might show them my credit card statement redacting personal info. 2) I would have my bank notarize my written statement that I received no other compensation, 3) I might do at they did and allow a cheap airline to get away with ripping me off.

  • Steve Rabin

    HI Kenny–I would agree with you except for the fact that WOW is bound by EU261, which does not mention anything about getting reimbursement from another source. (Iceland is a party to EU261 despite not being part of the EU). WOW’s rules must fall within the law, not set their own.

  • KennyG

    Steve: The quoted line I posted in my comments I believed to be from EU261, if not then my point in the comment was wrong. However, if it is from EU261, it states that the airline is liable for damage suffered, and my laymans reading says, if there was insurance $$$’s paid to the PAX, that would either eliminate and or mitigate the damage suffered by the PAX which WOW, via EU261 was obligated to pay. Hence a not unreasonable request by WOW so as to ascertain the actual damage to the PAX, which may possibly have been mitigated by insurance.

  • Michael__K

    No, WOW owes the money no matter what.
    Even if a passenger is covered by some type of insurance, they would not receive any pay out unless they first subrogated their rights to any redundant compensation they might be eligble for. In which case the air carrier should already have written notice to that effect.
    The air carrier is not a party to the insurance contract.

  • Michael__K

    I agree with your conclusion but FYI it’s the Montreal Convention, not EC 261, that governs here.
    EC 261 covers only flight delays and compensation.
    EC 889/2002 adopted the Montreal Convention rules for all intra-EU flights. And Iceland is one of the non-member states which has opted in to the EU National Enforcement Body scheme for aviation.
    This particular flight apparently originated outside the EU, so the Montreal Convention alone is sufficient.

  • KennyG

    No WOW doesn’t. They are responsible for damages. No damage, no payment. Mitigated damage, payment for that which was not mitigated.

  • Michael__K

    There are damages per the Montreal Convention. The possibility that the passenger subrogated their damages pursuant to a separate private contract which the air carrier is not a party to is irrelevant.

  • KennyG

    Sorry to say you continue to be incorrect. No damage, no payment. Mitigated damage, payment for that which was not mitigated. Unjust enrichment claim by the potentially undamaged or partially damaged party.

  • Michael__K

    A private subrogation contract doesn’t change the facts about damage.
    If there’s an unjust enrichment claim, then the private insurer would have such a claim against the customer they have a contract with.
    The insurer would generally require their customer to provide written notice of subrogation to the air carrier before paying a claim in the first place, so it’s unlikely to reach the point of unjust enrichment even if you assume the passenger is acting in bad faith.

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