This morning news spread through the travel world like wildfire that popular budget carrier WOW Air had collapsed, leaving thousands of passengers stranded and scrambling to find other options for getting home. WOW dropped the bombshell news during the wee hours of the morning, adding more fuel to the chaos and enraging customers.
According to CNN, representatives from Wow Air said that it may pay compensation to affected passengers “in accordance with European regulation on Air Passenger Rights.” The airline also stated that passengers who booked with a European travel agent as part of a packaged tour were protected, while others with travel insurance would have to file claims.
Troubles with WOW began long before today, however, with the airline having its aircrafts repossessed as recent as three days ago. While no one can predict exactly when and where a travel mishap like this one will occur, there are ways to prepare yourself for the possibility and ease some of the frantic stress and financial burden many passengers are feeling right now.
Always Have Travel Insurance – Always
No, we don’t mean the basic $30 travel insurance you’re offered when booking your ticket, we mean real deal, legit travel insurance that covers everything from travel delays out of your control – like an airline collapsing – to the repatriation of your remains from overseas. It seems like an unnecessary expense, but it comes in handy during times like this where many WOW Air passengers are finding themselves having to spend money they didn’t plan to in order to get home. No, you won’t get your money up front, but should you have to charge a credit card or borrow from a friend, the reimbursement from the travel insurance companies like World Nomads, Travel Guard, and Allianz will alleviate the financial strain on your personal pockets.
Immediately Look For Rescue Fares
When things like this happen, many competing airlines will offer discounted rescue fares to help out affected carriers. Seeking out one of these fares from other carriers in the airport needs to be the first thing you do because once the official word gets out, you’ll be competing with thousands of other stranded passengers for a seat on the next flight out. An example of an airline swooping in with a rescue fare would be Icelandic carrier Icelandair offering discounted economy fares for passengers with return WOW air tickets for travel between today and 11 April 2019. The fare extends to passengers going to Europe (destinations are Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussel, Copenhagen, Dublin, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Hamburg, Helsinki, London, Oslo and Paris), and North America (Boston, Edmonton, New York, Toronto and Washington). The fares started for as low as $60 plus taxes and fees.
Stop Leaving Home Broke
We’ve all done it a time or two. Planned an epic vacation that we’ve budgeted down to the last penny with nothing left to spare, and the majority of the time, we’re able to pull it off with no issues – then there are the times when things like WOW happen. While travel is not a luxury that’s afforded only to celebs and the 1%, if you don’t have enough money saved or on an emergency card to cover moments like this, perhaps you should wait until you do.
Currently, many passengers are having to create GoFundMe accounts to raise money to get home from wherever WOW left them stranded, and I assure you it’s not fun for them at all. Having an emergency stash (which you should have anyway because – adulting), with at least $500 in it can help alleviate lots of stress when mishaps happen abroad. It can mean the difference between needing to borrow $1000 from friends and family for a flight, versus needing half that or less. Also, having a major credit card with a decent available balance as your emergency backup can take pressure off as well. Combine that with reimbursement from your travel insurance, and a travel disaster starts to feel more like a minor inconvenience.
Know Your Rights
When it comes to travel, passengers have rights, even when an airline shuts down in the middle of the night. The U.S. Department of Transportation has a detailed list of passengers’ rights that covers everything from lost baggage to general airline safety. It may be a hassle to collect reimbursement from airlines directly, particularly from a now-defunct airline like WOW, but there are policies and procedures in place to help you figure it out and get your due once you’re home and the dust has started to settle.