WOW, why did you lose my daughter’s luggage and abandon her at the airport?

WOW Airlines lost David Robinson’s daughter’s luggage and abandoned her in an airport that she wasn’t supposed to fly into. What does WOW owe his daughter?

Question: My daughter, Katherine, was to present a scholarly paper at a conference in Paris. She purchased a ticket on WOW Airlines from Baltimore to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, via Iceland. The clothes she planned to wear for her presentation were in her checked luggage.

The flight from Baltimore was delayed four hours, and Katherine was told by WOW representatives that the connecting flight from Iceland to Paris would be held. When she arrived in Iceland, she learned that the Paris-bound flight had left. WOW put her on a plane to London Gatwick, telling her that a flight from Gatwick was her best option to get to Paris. And she would be given more information later on Gatwick-to-Paris flights.

Katherine spent eight and a half hours on the plane from Iceland to Gatwick before she was allowed to deplane. There were runway problems, a lot of circling, a diversion to Stansted Airport, and a further ground delay at Stansted.

Katherine did not deplane at Stansted because there was no WOW presence there, and WOW couldn’t tell her how she would get to Paris. During the eight and a half hours, there was no food or water offered, except for the original pass of the food cart after leaving Iceland. Once the plane finally departed from Stansted and landed at Gatwick, the passengers were required to remain on the plane for an hour because the flight crew could not open the exit door.

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When Katherine was able to deplane in Gatwick, there was no one from WOW to help with flight information. She called WOW and was told to proceed through immigration and talk with the people at the WOW desk on the other side of immigration. Going through immigration was difficult because the immigration officer could not understand how she could be in transit, when she did not have any ongoing flight information or a boarding pass for her next flight. After calling WOW to confirm her status, the immigration officer allowed her through. WOW could have helped by alerting immigration to the situation, but WOW did not do so.

When Katherine got through immigration, the WOW desk was closed until morning. The flight crew had disappeared. Lacking help from WOW, Katherine took a taxi to Ashford, spent the night there and bought a Eurostar train seat to Paris, departing the next morning. She had heard nothing from WOW since WOW placed her on the Gatwick-bound plane.

When Katherine arrived in Paris, she thought she had time to retrieve her luggage in time for her presentation. But, while she was at Gatwick, she filed a report that she had been separated from her luggage. Of course, the luggage had been checked through to Charles de Gaulle. She called WOW customer service about retrieving her luggage in Paris, but WOW was strangely indifferent and unhelpful.

Because the lost luggage report was created at Gatwick, the report languished without action. Katherine called a baggage office at Gatwick and was told she should call Paris because that was where the luggage was sent. When she called Paris, where the luggage was sent, she was told Paris could not help her because the original lost bag report had been submitted in Gatwick.

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I submitted an online request for help for my daughter, and that request was never answered. After two days, my wife finally got through to WOW customer service. She talked to three different customer service representatives.

The first customer service representative took the information, expressed sympathy, said he would check into the problem and get back to her. He never did.

The second customer service representative said the bag had arrived in Paris, and she gave my wife the number of the baggage office in Paris. She told my wife to call Paris to find out when the bag would be delivered to my daughter. As instructed, my wife called the Paris baggage office, and was told there was nothing that the Paris office could do because the luggage report had been created at Gatwick.

The next customer service representative told my wife that she would investigate and call back. She did investigate and she called back to say the luggage had been located at de Gaulle. She arranged for the luggage to be delivered to my daughter in Paris that day. Katherine’s presentation was the next morning, but she had bought something to wear in case her bag didn’t arrive. When WOW delivered the luggage at 6 p.m., it wasn’t her bag.

I emailed the CEO of WOW and didn’t receive an answer. So I sent the email again to the CEO and the WOW customer service desk. I only received the form response from WOW. Why did WOW lose my daughter’s luggage, abandon her in Gatwick, and then ignore her complaint? — David Robinson,Washington, D.C.

Answer: WOW airlines should not have abandoned your daughter at the Gatwick airport, lost her luggage, and then ignored the complaint about compensation.

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Fortunately, your daughter had the resources and support to help her find timely alternate transportation to her final destination. Passengers without the resources to pay for a hotel and train fare may not have been so lucky. And WOW’s indifference to your daughter’s situation during and after the travel was shockingly woeful.

You could have tried to contact a WOW Airlines executive for assistance. We list WOW Air company contacts on our website.

Because your daughter was traveling to a European Union country, European Regulation Commission 261/2004 would apply to her. This regulation establishes rules for compensation and assistance to passengers that are denied boarding, subject to long delays or canceled flights.

Our advocates contacted WOW representatives on your daughter’s behalf. WOW apologized and offered $1,000 in compensation to reimburse her for her expenses from Gatwick to Paris. WOW did not offer compensation for the lost luggage costs, but you felt the offer was fair and let the lost baggage claim go.

We’re happy that our advocates were able to help you resolve this problem for your daughter.

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 Elliott.org, led Diane to become an advocate and to help fight the good fight. Read more of Diane's articles here.

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