WOW Air, where’s my $92 refund?

Colleen Lamont’s flight from Scotland to Iceland is delayed, making her miss her connecting flight back home. When her airline rebooks her, it’s on a different airline — and to a different return airport than the one she originally booked. Does it owe her anything for the inconvenience?

Question: A few months ago my WOW Air flight from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Keflavik, Iceland, was delayed. That caused me and my travel companion to miss our connecting flight to Baltimore.

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The next day, WOW rerouted us to Washington Dulles International Airport on Icelandair. But our car was 60 miles away at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

I filed a complaint four months ago and haven’t heard anything. I also submitted receipts for the shuttle ($82) and extra day of parking ($10). I can’t get a response from WOW and when I try calling, they have a recording that says they don’t hear anyone on the line and they disconnect the call.

I’d like to be reimbursed the cost of shuttle and extra day of parking we incurred because WOW placed us on a different flight home. Can you help? — Colleen Lamont, Towson, Md.

Answer: Wow, what a nighmare! Of course, the airline should have operated your first return flight on time and on schedule and given you plenty of time to connect with your next flight back home. Then we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all.

But then, airlines are not required to operate their flights on schedule and (at least in the United States) they face minimal consequences when they fail to do so. Not so in Europe. I’ll get to that in a minute.

WOW, a discount airline, delayed the Edinburgh-to-Keflavik leg because of “technical” problems. When that happened, it should have booked you on the next available flight and covered any incidental expenses, including, you might assume, your shuttle from Washington to Baltimore.

But that’s not exactly how it works. Unless you have a specific agreement with an airline representative — preferably in writing — WOW’s contract with you is fulfilled when you land in Washington. You accepted its return flight and that’s it. In other words, the airline is probably ignoring you because it has nothing to say. Still, that’s no excuse for giving you the silent treatment or disconnecting your call. WOW can do better.

Once you were back in Baltimore, you could have sent a brief and polite email to one of the airline’s executives. I list the names, numbers and email addresses for the WOW managers on my consumer advocacy website.

I have good news and better news. WOW agreed to reimburse you after I contacted it on your behalf. But EU law — specifically a regulation called EU 261 — requires that airlines compensate passengers when there’s a lengthy delay. Under EU 261, you could be entitled to 250 euros each. Once my advocacy team pointed this out to WOW, they agreed to sweeten the deal. That compensation ought to pay for your parking expenses, and if fares stay low, another flight back to Europe.

9 thoughts on “WOW Air, where’s my $92 refund?

  1. Glad they got EU compensation. Some airlines assume BWI and IAD are equivalent and say so in their contracts of carriage – if they get you to one, it’s as good as getting you to the other (even if you were forced to take that flight). I didn’t see that on a cursory glance of WOW’s contract, though.

    1. “if they get you to one, it’s as good as getting you to the other (even if you were forced to take that flight)”

      The EU Parliament dictates otherwise, and that trumps airline contract terms for flights in their jurisdiction (and Iceland has opted into their jurisdiction for the purposes of EC 261…)

  2. 1) KEF to BWI is well over 3500 kilometers (4442 to be exact) so the EC 261 delay compensation ought to be 600 EUR

    2) Per the European Parliament’s Interpretive Guidelines for EC 261, the carrier must also bear the costs of the passenger’s travel all the way to their originally ticketed destination airport. This is in addition to the delay compensation.

    4.4.8. Compensation for late arrival when a passenger accepts a flight to an airport alternative to that for which the booking was made

    Compensation is due in such a case. The time of arrival to be used for calculating the delay is the actual time of arrival at the airport for which the booking was originally made or another close-by destination agreed with the passenger in accordance with Article 8(3) of the Regulation. Costs incurred for the transport between the alternative airport and the airport for which the booking was originally made or another close-by destination agreed with the passenger should be borne by the operating air carrier.

    1. Agree!. As a matter of fact, my wife and I were flying on Lufthansa from DFW to FRA and connecting there to another Lufthansa flight to DUB. Flight departed DFW about an hour late, got into FRA about an hour late and by the time we got to the gate for our connecting flight to Dublin, it had already departed. Lufthansa scheduled us on its next flight to Dublin, six hours later. So we arrived in Dublin 6 hours later than originally scheduled. I flied for compensation from Lufthansa and it agreed that the original cause was a technical fault delaying the DFW departure an hour and causing us to miss our connection. So, Lufthansa said we were due 600 Euros each as it counted the distance from DFW to DUB. We will get a check in about three weeks for 1200 Euros made payable in U.S. dollars; about $1304. It tool Lufthansa less than 72 hours from the time of receiving my claim to process it.
      That being said, I really wonder of WOW should be on the hook for 600 Euros each for her and her travel companion as the distance from start to finish was over 3000 Kilometers; not the 250 Euros for just the one leg of the flight.

  3. Amazing timing for this article to come out today! I was actually looking at some WOW flights just a few minutes ago – we’re planning a vacation to Ireland & Scotland later this summer, so I’m researching flights right now. And WOW has the cheapest fares…although the itineraries are not so great (some of them take over 20 hours of travel time, including very long connection times, to get to our destination). So I’ve been weighing the issue of better timing, convenience and service on other (non-discount) airlines against the lower fares on WOW.

    While I’m glad this worked out in the LW’s favor, it concerns me that it took so long, and the intervention of a consumer advocate, to get it done. That does not bode well for WOW, and leads me to believe that I would have a similar experience should anything go wrong. So that’s a check mark against them on my balance sheet.

    Now I’m leaning more towards Aer Lingus.

    Airlines need to learn that treating their customers poorly leads to losing more business than just the one customer they treated poorly.

  4. WOW really blew it. If it had reimbursed the passenger for her initial request of$92, she never would have know to seek the EU 261 compensation.

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