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What the Collapse of WOW Air Means for Travelers

March 28, 2019
Travel, Travel Credit Cards, Vacations & Trip Planning
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WOW Air has officially ceased operations, meaning all of its flights have been canceled. Passengers are stuck scrambling to book flights with other airlines and seek out a refund.

The low-cost airline known for cheap flights between the U.S. and Iceland has faced financial difficulties for some time.

» Learn more: How to get paid for airline delays

Over the last week, WOW Air has seen two potential buyouts fail. First, private equity firm Indigo Partners, an investor in other low-cost airlines including Frontier Airlines and JetSmart, pulled out of a deal. Competitor Icelandair then revived previous discussions to buy out WOW Air, but a deal failed to materialize.

What should I do if my flight was canceled?

WOW Air encouraged passengers to check available flights with other airlines, pointing out that some might offer flights at a reduced rate given the circumstances.

Icelandair is offering discounted fares from select destinations for passengers who were midtrip when the WOW Air closure was announced, and who were set to return via WOW Air between March 28 and April 11, 2019. And Virgin Atlantic Airways released rescue fares, as well.

If you bought a WOW Air ticket with your credit card, you should contact the credit card issuer to inquire about a refund.

Refunds hinge on if travel insurance was purchased with the trip or if the purchase was made with a credit card that offers travel insurance. In the event of an immediate shutdown of service, customers usually have little recourse from the company itself in getting refunds. In this situation, your best bet is to go directly to your credit card company and see if your card’s travel insurance covers financial insolvency. For instance, Chase Sapphire-branded credit cards cover “financial insolvency of the Travel Agency, Tour Operator, or Travel Supplier whose services you booked” under its included travel insurance as long as you purchased the flight using your Sapphire card or Chase Ultimate Rewards® points.

For many of these reimbursements, you’ll need to submit a written request within a certain number of days before you can begin the process of reclaiming your money. Not all travel rewards cards cover financial insolvency though. To find out if your credit card’s travel insurance has you covered, you’ll need to dig into the fine print or contact your card company.

  • If you went through a travel agent, you should contact him or her to inquire about a refund and to schedule a new flight.
  • Affected travelers might have a shot at compensation from WOW Air. According to the travel alert announcing the collapse: “Passengers may also 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.”

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
How to find the best travel insurance
5 tips to find a cheap flight
How to survive multiple-day airline delays

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