WOW Air's Bankruptcy and Claiming Cancellation Compensation

Photo Credit: "TF-BRO Airbus A320-200 WOW air DUS 2018-07-31 (38a)" by Marvin Mutz is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

News that Icelandic ultra low-cost carrier WOW Air has gone bankrupt broke on March 28, 2019. This has led to a cancellation of all of its scheduled flights. This, in turn, has created an overwhelming number of questions from the airline’s passengers stranded around Europe and North America. In this article, we will answer the most pressing ones including whether passengers can claim compensation for their cancelled WOW flight.


What caused WOW Air’s bankruptcy?

The airline is the latest of a long list of low-cost companies including Air Berlin, Germania, Monarch and Cobalt to cease operations in the last few years. High fuel prices and overcapacity have been the culprits for most of these airline failures.

In addition, for the past years, WOW Air had been in a transition period in which it was adding Airbus aircraft to its fleet. This expansion dramatically drove up its expenditures and played a crucial role in its bankruptcy.

In the fall of 2018, WOW Air was in acquisition talks with its local rival Icelandair and with Indigo Partners. However, negotiations with both broke down. As a result, the low-cost carrier was forced to go under administration and to suspend all services.


Can I claim WOW Air cancellation compensation?

Under EU Regulation 261, WOW Air passengers are entitled to compensation for cancellations that they were not notified about more than 14 days before their flight.

While the airline has stated that they may pay compensation to travelers, affected by the cancellation, the odds are pretty short.

Essentially, under administration, WOW Air will not be able to handle any new claims. Part of the reason for this is that after the cessation of its operations, there will be no one at WOW’s offices to process your compensation claim.

In light of the circumstances around the bankruptcy-forced cancellations, passengers may not reasonably expect to be compensated for their disruptions.

At SkyRefund, we will continue to monitor the situation and update the information on this page as soon as there is any news about claiming WOW Air bankruptcy compensation.


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Claiming compensation for a previous WOW Air flight delay or cancellation

Passengers who have had their flight delay or cancellation compensation claims approved will now join a long queue of WOW Air money lenders. They are then in the position of an unsecured creditor, which is an underwhelming one. These passengers would be the last to receive any owed sums. Priority would go to the big-money lenders and investors.


Do you have insurance?

Travel insurance would be a considerably easier way to receive compensation for your cancellation. If you have insurance, we would strongly recommend that you contact your insurance provider and enquire whether you are covered in case of an airline default.


Contact your Credit Card Company

If you don’t have travel insurance (you should), there are other ways you may be able to claim a refund for the flights cancelled due to WOW’s default. Most credit card issuers include insurance in case of an airline bankruptcy. If you paid by card, make sure you contact your issuer and enquire for details.


You made your booking through a travel agency?

If your WOW Air tickets came as part of a package offered by tour agency, you are likely in the least stressful position. Your provider is required to find an alternate flight for you and your family or friends, if you are already on your trip. If you haven’t flown out yet, you have the option of cancelling your plans and claiming a refund for the costs of your trip.


My flight was cancelled. How should I fulfil my trip?

Other carriers have stepped in to cover the hole left by WOW Air’s insolvency by offering flights at a reduced rate (the so-called rescue fare). Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines offer a 35% reduction of their normal ticket prices to passengers whose trips took a hit. The offer applies to all WOW Air passengers who depart before April 30 and complete their trips by June 30. Your WOW Air ticket will be required as proof, so be prepared.


EasyJet, Icelandair, Norwegian, Wizz Air and Aer Lingus, among others, are also offering discounts to stranded WOW passengers.

While according to the EU Regulation 261/2004, passengers are entitled to replacement flights, WOW’s default precludes any possibility this might happen.


Unfortunately, passengers and airline employees are usually the ones who are most affected by airline insolvencies.