Chaotic scenes broke out this morning at airports in the United States, Canada and Europe after WOW Air abruptly ceased operations. The budget airline’s overnight announcement left passengers stranded in Toronto, Baltimore, London and several other cities.
The Icelandic carrier broke the news on their website, advising passengers to check for available flights on other airlines. “Some airlines may offer flights at a reduced rate, so-called rescue fares, in light of the circumstances. Information on those airlines will be published, when it becomes available,” an advisory on the WOW website reads.
Exacerbating the situation for many is the airline’s laissez faire attitude regarding refunds. Passengers who did not pay by credit card or purchase traveler’s insurance may have to wait a long time before seeing their money. “In case of a bankruptcy, claims should be filed to the administrator / liquidator” the airline advises. And it gets worse. Some have reported that the airline continued selling tickets to customers on their website even after announcing they were ending operations.
Despite #wowair cancelling all flights today, with an announcement on its future due at 9am. Incredibly it’s still selling tickets on some routes, and appears on flight booking sites. If it can’t currently afford to fly its planes it shouldn’t be flogging tickets to passengers. pic.twitter.com/I3d5k8GgQJ
— Rory Boland (@roryboland) March 28, 2019
WOW expanded rapidly last year, aggressively adding more routes without enough capital to sustain operations. Executives had been negotiating with investors through the morning to avoid closure, but no agreement was made. Wow Air CEO Skúli Mogensen tells Icelandic news outlet RUV, “As is normal, people believed we would get the investment. We have been very transparent, but it didn’t happen.”
TravelCoterie has always believed WOW Air was a ratchet airline, we even wrote an entire article advising people to avoid them, and unfortunately for many passengers, we now have this tacky episode to back our claims.