WOW Air, where’s my compensation for that 14-hour delay?

After a 14-hour delay on WOW Air, Rachael Lopez thinks she’s entitled to some compensation. WOW disagrees. Who’s right?

Question: I recently flew from Los Angeles to Reykjavik, Iceland, on WOW Air, a discount airline. WOW told me to arrive at 4:30 p.m., but the flight was delayed more than 14 hours.

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The reason: The aircraft we were using had left Iceland late. WOW knew this, but still told me to get to the airport at 4:30.

I missed an entire day of my vacation by arriving in the middle of the night instead of at lunchtime. I paid for parking, a car rental and a hotel night that I didn’t use.

I’d like WOW to refund the ticket and pay me $670, the amount it owes under EU 261, the European consumer protection regulation. I’ve asked WOW, but it refuses to refund or pay any compensation. Can you help me? — Rachael Lopez, Mission Viejo, Calif.

Answer: Wow, I’m really sorry to hear about your delay. WOW should have advised you of the delay, which would have allowed you to avoid the hassle of returning home and then coming back to the airport the next day.

But that’s not always possible. Maybe WOW was hopeful that a delay of the inbound aircraft could have been avoided, and advised you to get to LAX on time. I want to believe WOW had the best of intentions.

Your request for a ticket refund isn’t doable. That’s because in the end, WOW transported you from LA to Reykjavik, thereby fulfilling its legal obligation under its ticket contract. In other words, it got you from point “A” to point “B,” as promised.

It just didn’t do it when it promised, and that means it ran afoul of EU 261, the European airline consumer protection regulation. Under that rule, you were entitled to real money for the delay — unless WOW could prove that there were “extraordinary” circumstances that led to the delay. And that, it could not.

The next time you have a lengthy delay, make sure you ask the airline immediately if it can authorize meal
vouchers, hotel vouchers or phone cards. Don’t wait for it to offer you overnight accommodations, which seems to be what happened to you. Ask. Most airlines include provisions for food and accommodations in their contracts of carriage, which can be found online.

I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the WOW Air customer service managers on my consumer advocacy site. After your first “no” I would have appealed to one of these executives in writing.

I contacted WOW on your behalf. You also contacted the executives, and eventually the airline paid you the $670 owed under EU 261.

22 thoughts on “WOW Air, where’s my compensation for that 14-hour delay?

  1. Yet another story about WOW refusing to pay what they’re legally obligated to? Color me surprised.

    No but really, why doesn’t the Icelandic Transport Authority or the European Commission do something about this blatant disregard for the law?

      1. Wow are a great airline driving down fares charged by inefficient legacy airlines. Like all airlines they have delays.

        1. Delays happen. We get that. What should NOT happen is refusing to pay what they are legally obligated to pay due to EU 261. Passengers should not have to fight to get that.

          1. Eu parliament is very dodgy. No wonder the poms are getting out. Eu rules will cause deaths. Can’t wait for eu to collapse

          2. EU 261 was passed in 2004 and became law in 2005. So after 12 years where are all the deaths,

            The EU has positive and negative aspects. And what is the benefit to a collapse?

          1. Airlines can get around the very dodgy eu 261 by making their flights scheduled charters perhaps with far less consumer rights. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

          2. And which airline has done this, changed to charter flights? Not even WOW has sunk that low. What is wrong with expecting WOW to follow the laws. Don’t like Eu 261 don’t start an airline in the European Union.

          3. nothing wrong with scheduled charters, but much less paperwork & less stupid rules. Depending on countries involved, there maybe a limitation of number of scheduled charters in one programme, but then again, different entities can do the same thing, increasing the number. You can’t have stupid govts running things, esp the EU, who seem to be VERY left wing.

          4. So you judge the efficacy and legitimacy of legislation because of the what you perceive as the political philosophy of the governing body. Got it, the merits mean little, dogmatic thinking is what is important.

            There is nothing wrong with charters. My response was to the assertation that airlines can evade the EU 261 by changing their flights into charters. I asked what airline have done that.

  2. Before anyone books with WOW they really ought to read the reviews of those that already travelled, or attempted to do so. On http://www.airlinequality.com the last 20 reviews give 1/10 for 19 of them. Delays and a complete lack of communication seem to be the norm, not the exception.

    1. There’s no such thing as an independent review on the likes of trip advisor. Anyone can buy 1000 positive or negative reviews for any business for a very small amount & this can never ever be stopped. Suspect many of the negative reviews are from legacy airline employees worried about their jobs as lccs take over long haul.

      That said, I’d rather any airline fix any issues with aircraft b4 they take off & not be pressured into taking off for financial reasons. Eu 261 has to go & will no longer apply to flights to & from uk when they exit the very dodgy eu very soon

      1. I actually looked at the reviews cited. Most of them are by passengers that did not understand what they were getting into with the ultra low cost carrier, so there were complaints about the charge for a carry one, charges for water, costs for check in luggage. At least on airline equality they attempt to verify that the reviewer actually took the flight, but certainly one could photoshop a boarding pass. I doubt that most of the bad reviews are from legacy carriers; in reading the posts it sounds like mostly novice travelers, who had short connections which were missed, or were shocked at the fees.

        1. No one knows where reviews come from. They could come en masse from some guy in India getting paid a few rupees per review & no one csn ever stop this

  3. I was with her until she asked for a ticket refund. As Christopher pointed out, she wasn’t entitled that. She took the flight.

    She WAS entitled to the $670 due to EU 261, and I’m glad she got it. It’s troubling that it seems this particular airline continues to refuse to pay it when they are legally obligated to do so. I was looking at flying on this airline to Ireland recently, but after all the stories of WOW refusing to follow the law in this regard, I will avoid them like the plague.

      1. Don’t need to. I found flights that are only marginally more expensive on another airline. And I’m happy to pay a bit more to avoid the risk of flying on an airline that won’t follow the law, or appropriately handle my case should a problem occur. I vote with my wallet.

        1. 1. LCCs cause others to lower their fares

          2. With LCCs you’re not obliged to pay gor 23kgs vhecked baggage as most people don’t need anything like 23kgs

          LCCs are the future. Even the legacy s are coming out wiyh basic lcc type fares

          1. Again, I would happily fly with WOW if they would stop their pattern of poor customer service and not following the law. You feel free to risk it if you want. Meanwhile I’ll spend my travel dollars with airlines that have a better customer service record.

          2. poor customer service ? Says who ? The dodgy media ? The fake news experts. Trip advisor ? What a joke they are. Stupid rules like eu261 should go. Airlines need to say no.

          3. Says the multiple articles right here on Christopher’s site, describing real travelers’ experiences with poor customer service on WOW.

            So you’re calling Christopher’s site the “dodgy media”? If that’s how you think of Christopher’s site, then you have no idea what this site is, or what he does.

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