WOW air, the budget carrier that managed to turn things around across Europe with its discounted airfares, had ceased its operations last week, causing massive delays and cancellations. The carrier announced, via a travel alert, that customers with unused tickets could seek refunds if their purchases were made with a credit card.
As for stranded passengers, the airline recommended that they seek seats with other airlines that were known to offer similar discounts or rates.
From the sudden rise to the sudden fall
WOW Air, which is based in Iceland, grew to be a popular airline, thanks to its cost-effective offerings. The airline was able to offer tickets for as low as $55. This helped the brand grow rapidly since its founding almost a decade ago.
However, things eventually went downhill after the airline entered into significant debt. Around 2017, WOW reported a debt of $43 million. This prompted discussions about a takeover from the likes of Icelandair, which fell through. Following the breakdown in talks, WOW was forced to lay off around 100 of its workers.
WOW seems to be one of many airlines finding themselves in such trouble. Primera Air, a carrier based in Scandinavia, met a similar fate only last year. The airline, which was known for its US to London flights, also faced financial trouble. Some of the other carriers that failed recently include Cobalt Air, Germania, and Flybmi.
Chaos at European airports
Before cancelling its flights, WOW operated flights from most of the airports in North America to Iceland. This included flights from Baltimore-Washington, Newark, and Detroit. Some of these flights were allowed to fly onward to airports across Europe.
The sudden cancellations caused plenty of confusion. Passengers found themselves stranded at airports. One such passenger at Newark described the situation as “pandemonium.” It is believed that passengers were only offered a $12 voucher as restitution.
It was also reported that some passengers weren’t informed about the cancellations. They only found out about WOW ceasing its operations after reading about it on social media. Customers seeking information regarding the cancellations were said to have received only automated responses from WOW. The response included an apology and further instruction on contacting the airline for more assistance.
However, in such situations, where the airline itself has collapsed, passengers cannot expect much assistance. Experts advice seeking alternative flight options instead of trying to contact the airline in question.
In this case, Icelandair was one of the carriers that came to the rescue of the stranded passengers. It offered discounted economy fares for passengers travelling to and from Iceland. However, this applied only to passengers with a return ticket on WOW Air and scheduled to travel between March 28 and April 11.
Icelandair’s flight prices for WOW Air passengers currently range from $60 to $160, before taxes and additional fees. The tickets are also limited in availability.
There are reports that other airlines may soon step in to rescue more stranded passengers.