What You Can Do When Your Airline Goes Belly Up

Mar 28, 2019

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There are many unanswered questions left in the wake of an airline’s collapse. The latest example is WOW Air — the Icelandic low-cost airline that just announced it’s ceasing operations and canceling all flights following months of financial struggles[Find more of our ongoing coverage of WOW Air’s collapse, and what affected passengers can do about it, here.]

The most pressing question for ticketed passengers is likely to be: “What now? How do I get home and how can I get reimbursed?”

The first thing you should probably do is call your credit card company and ask for a chargeback, which is a reversal of payment due to WOW Air’s failed delivery of the goods or services you paid for (in this case a flight). There’s no guarantee your issuer will reverse the charge, but it’s definitely worth trying.

You also can demand repayment from the air carrier itself, although you’re probably not going to be able to get in touch with anyone — and even if you do, WOW Air may not be able or willing to refund your money. When Danish low-cost carrier Primera Air suspended operations in anticipation of filing for bankruptcy in 2018, passengers reported problems getting their money back for route and flight cancellations.

Credit Cards That Can Help

You have the best chance of getting a refund if you paid for your flight with one of several credit cards that offer trip cancellation/interruption coverage. The amount of available coverage differs, as does the eligibility of members of your traveling party, but you should be able to file a successful claim with these cards:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Receive coverage up to $10,000 per person per trip. Coverage is available to the card holder and his or her immediate family. Chase specifically includes a provision in its coverage addressing the “financial insolvency of the Travel Agency, Tour Operator, or Travel Supplier whose services you booked.” It further defines a supplier as “a Tour Operator, occupancy provider, cruise line, airline, railroad or other Common Carriers.” The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card offers the same benefit up to $5,000 of coverage.

Help From the EU

The European Union requires that any EU carrier must compensate you if your flight is canceled by either:

  • transporting to your final destination using comparable alternative means, or
  • having your ticket refunded and, where relevant, returning you free of charge to your initial departure point.

WOW Air notes that passengers “may be entitled to compensation from WOW Air, including in accordance with European regulation on Air Passenger Rights. In case of a bankruptcy, claims should be filed to the administrator/liquidator.”

Find more of our ongoing coverage of WOW Air’s collapse, and what affected passengers can do about it, here.

Featured photo via Getty Images.

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