After a flight delay, will WOW ever respond to this traveler?

Ilene Kahn files a claim with WOW Airlines for a delayed flight. The airline issues a claim number, but doesn’t process it. Can we help Kahn?

Question: One year ago my husband and I flew on WOW Airlines from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Amsterdam, via Reykjavik. The flights were significantly delayed in Baltimore and in Reykjavik.

We had to spend the night in Iceland. We were taken to a hostel-type of hotel and given rooms. They fed us dinner and breakfast. The next morning we were placed on a flight to Amsterdam. We missed a day and night in Amsterdam, and we had to pay for a hotel room in Amsterdam that we didn’t get to use. The hotel in Amsterdam refused to refund the $200 for the night we had to spend in Iceland. I tried to challenge this with my credit card but was unsuccessful.

I filed a claim with WOW Airlines and received a claim number. A year later, it has not been resolved. I’ve sent emails to customer service and only receive automatic replies. I called the customer service line and was told that they couldn’t help me. After a year, I don’t have have a denial, acceptance or resolution from WOW Airlines. Can you help? — Ilene Kahn, Baltimore, Md.

Answer: You have certainly been very patient with WOW Airlines. You shouldn’t have to wait a year for a response to your claim.

When a flight is significantly delayed, airlines must comply with EU 261, which is a regulation that requires the airlines to provide assistance and compensation to passengers when a flight is overbooked, canceled or delayed. However, not all delays will require the airline to compensate a passenger.

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In your situation, the flight delays were caused by an air traffic control strike in Iceland. The strike caused uncommon disruptions in flights to, from and through Iceland. EU 261 contains an exception for extraordinary circumstances and events that can’t be avoided. EU 261 defines those occurrences as:

cases of political instability, meteorological conditions incompatible with the operation of the flight concerned, security risks, unexpected flight safety shortcomings and strikes that affect the operation of an operating air carrier.

WOW Airlines’ contract of carriage is consistent with EU 261. It provides that compensation will only be reimbursed as required by law. And, that compensation is not due if caused by extraordinary circumstances, which includes “air traffic control.”

Under EU 261 and its contract of carriage, WOW Airlines was not required to offer you any compensation. It wasn’t even required to give you the food and lodging that it provided to you and your husband. Give the airline credit that it did so much to accommodate you and your husband during the long delay.

But even with everything it did for you, and having no obligation to do anything more, WOW Airlines should not have let your claim languish for a year. It should have accepted or denied your claim within a reasonable amount of time.

Prior to asking our advocates for help, you could have posted your question to our help forums, which are staffed by travel industry experts, and often read by company executives. Our forum advocates may have had helpful suggestions for you about getting WOW Airlines to reply to your claim. And, you could have tried escalating your complaint to company executives. We list executive contact information for WOW Airlines on our website.

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Our advocates reached out to WOW Airlines on your behalf, and it gave you a voucher worth 750 euros (about $856). You were thrilled with WOW Airlines’ compensation. Then, you asked us if we thought that you could obtain another voucher for your husband, or if we thought that you should be “satisfied with this and not ask additional for compensation.”

We told you that you could always ask. WOW Airlines housed and fed you and your husband when it didn’t have to. And, it gave you a 750 euro voucher when it didn’t have any obligation to do so. If you think WOW Airlines should do more for you and your husband, go ahead and ask. We think that WOW Airlines went above and beyond for you and your husband. And, we’re not going to ask for more for you, or your husband.

We’re happy that we could help you reach a conclusion to your claim with WOW Airlines and that the resolution was more than generous.

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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