Denied boarding by WOW Air- What are my rights for resolution?

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Jul 18, 2017
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#1
Denied boarding:
4 adult passengers ticketed together (flight booking ref. 40RQVP) for WOW Air WW126 Thu 6/22 departing Boston 7:00 PM arriving Reykjavik Fri 6/23 4:40AM. Connecting with WW422 departing Reykjavik Fri 6/23 5:45AM arriving Lyon 11:30AM. One passenger terminates in Lyon, with 3 passengers continuing on HOP! Airlines 4526 departing Lyon Fri 6/23 3:15PM arriving Venice 4:30PM.

On Thu 6/22/17, we arrive at Boston's airport on time, check-in, go through security, and arrive at departure gate 12 at 5:45PM. The check-in agent tells us the flight's departure time has been delayed one hour, but not to worry about our connection in Reykjavik, it will be fine.

The flight is further delayed. At apprx. 8:50PM, as WOW prepares to board passengers, the gate manager calls out our names. We go to the desk and he tells us we are being denied boarding to this flight because the connecting flight WW422 has been cancelled, that an email had been sent to us stating this in the early afternoon, and that there are 4 seats for us available on the same flight the next day (we were to find that none of these last 3 things were true). He gives my husband a customer service number (in India?) to call to resolve the situation; we call immediately (ultimately, we wait on hold for 1 hour 40 minutes). Meanwhile, we politely try to find some way to travel onward. For the second flight, we ask if we can be placed on a flight to another city in continental Europe. The gate manager says there is no one there at the terminal nor any other contact number to help us. We then say we want to fly to Reykjavik anyhow and will sort out how to travel onward once there. The gate manager replies that many flights are cancelled in Reykjavik and that all the hotels there are fully booked (again, not true, albeit we still do not confront the manager). The plane loads and leaves after which the gate crew starts to walk off. I ask the manager to write down that he has denied us boarding and to sign his name. He simply shrugs and walks away with the gate crew, leaving us there in the black hole of an unresponsive hold line to the customer service department. We are utterly dismayed by what we feel was intentional deceit and total disregard.

When a customer service representative finally comes on the phone that night, they tell us that there is no availability on the flight the next day. They say WOW does not have any affiliations to place us on another carrier. The next available flight from Boston is 4 days out on Monday 6/26. We say that is unacceptable and ask to speak to the customer service manager. We wait another 20 minutes on hold. The manager says he will fly us on Sunday 6/25. We reply that that is not acceptable. The best the manager says he can do is 2 days out, flying from Boston on Sat 6/24. That seems the best we can do. We finally take a cab back to the home we left 7 hours earlier.

IMPACT: Because of this, 3 of us miss our non-refundable HOP! flight from Lyon to Venice on 6/23. We have to buy new round-trip tickets (which are less than the penalty plus one-way tickets) from HOP! Airlines departing 2 days later totaling 1,142.67 Euros, as well as two unused nights in Italy totaling 324 Euros, and cab fare to and from Boston's airport totaling $95; combined this is $1,561.67 in total due to the 2-day delay.

Further, we only have 4 days instead of 6 to spend with our four Swiss friends who had flown to Venice to meet us in Cavallino. We miss being able to spend a full day and evening in the city of Venice and a boat excursion on the lagoon to enjoy the native wildlife. It feels that just as we are getting over 22 hours of travel, jetlag, and upset, it is time to say goodbye and travel on. At the same time, as a result of the 2-day delay, my husband and his ailing 87-year old mother have to cancel their 4-day retreat to the Espace St. Bernadette in Nevers, France; it is a huge disappointment.

QUESTIONS:

1. I can’t figure out if WOW/our rights fall under the DOT’s CFR 250.5 where compensation is 400% of the fare to the passenger’s destination with a max of $1,350 per passenger or if they fall under EU Regulation 261 which mandates 600 Euros for flights of more than 3500 km. Our cancelled flights Boston-Reykjavi and Rykjavik-Lyon are both about 3,900 km. Does that mean compensation would be twice 600 Euros (or $1,200) per passenger if jurisdiction is under EU 261? Please advise as to which jurisdiction and how much compensation we should request. Also, are passengers compensated for costs the delay causes them ($1,561.67)?

2. I will address my complaint email to WOW’s CEO and cc their customer service (I have these email addresses). Should I also cc your email address as well as other relevant jurisdictions such as the DOT? What exact email addresses should I use? Or, do you think it is better to simply address my concerns only to WOW to have a better outcome with them?

3. I will add a paragraph for RESOLUTION once I receive your advice in question 1 above. Do you have any concerns about what I wrote above or other suggestions for writing/sending a letter of complaint?

Thank you very much!! Jen
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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#2
So here is the unfortunate rights under DOT passenger rights:

If a flight is canceled, the airline has to either out you on the next available flight or give you a refund. Next available flight might not be be for days. And what they say is true- WOW is a very low cost airline and no one had reciprocal agreements with them.

I can also tell you that Reykavick most certainly can have all their hotels booked. Iceland has been found and does not have enough hotel rooms. As a travel agent I see this all the time for last minute bookings- hotels can sell out 6 months in advance here.

You have a different story because you were denied boarding. I think you should write to the airline and quote the policy for involuntary bumping from this site:

https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/fly-rights

If they still refuse, file a complaint with the DOT:


Complaints about airline service may be registered with DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division (ACPD). You can call, write or use our web-based complaint form.

You may call the ACPD 24 hours a day at 202-366-2220 (TTY 202-366-0511) to record your complaint. You may send us a letter at:

Aviation Consumer Protection Division, C-75
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20590

To send us a complaint, comment or inquiry electronically, please use our web form at http://airconsumer.dot.gov>> Filing a Complaint.


Let us know what happens.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#3
You have a legitimate question as to which jurisdiction is better for a claim. One cannot double dip and claim both EU and DOT compensation.

If you were ticketed as one itinerary and ticket Boston to Reykjavik to Lyon that is one EU claim of 600 Euros per passenger. The claim is not by segment but by total travel.

Perhaps some of the more knowledgeable advocates can help with a suggestion.

Was there any explanation as to why the flight 422 was canceled?
 

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#4
@Jen You've run into one of the very large downsides of using a LCC. When things go wrong, you have to fly on their metal and it could be days before they have an open seat for you.

Here's the good news... WOW is based in Iceland which means it falls under EU261 (even though you were flying to the EU, you're only covered on an EU carrier). Here's the link to their claims website that I found through google (https://claims.wowair.net/open.php )

You were entitled to two things
1. Duty of care - Unless you live in Boston, WOW was responsible for your lodging and food expenses while you waited for their flight. Note: Duty of care applies regardless of the reason that flight was cancelled or delayed.
2. Compensation - If the flight was cancelled due to something within the airline's control (maintenance, staffing etc) and not weather, you are due compensation. Based on the length of your itinerary, that amounts to €600 per person.

Based on the details you shared, I'm not sure that you qualify for IDB. The airline is most likely going to claim you were rerouted not bumped. Once your EU 261 claim is completed, you might file a DOT complaint based on the inaccurate information provided at the time you were removed from the flight.
 
Jul 27, 2016
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#5
I agree with johnbaker - looks like a pretty clear EU261 claim, but I don't think there US IDB compensation owed, since it wasn't (as far as we can tell) an oversale situation.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
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Realitoes

Guest
#6
You wouldn't qualify for IDB, because you have to be bumped due to the flight being oversold. Your sold a ticket based on your point of departure and final destination, not any connections. If they are not able to get you to their final destination because any leg is delayed or canceled, they can and normall will reroute you. In this case you were denied boarding because they were no longer able to get you to your final destination.

As others indicated, depending on the reason for the delay, you may be due compensation, while Iceland is not part of the EU, they have incorporated the EU 261 regulation into their rules.
 
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johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#8
@Realitoes Iceland is a member of the EEA (not to mention the Schlegen Zone) so for purposes of commerce, enterprise, customer protections etc, they have to abide by EU law. About the only thing that doesn't apply is agriculture (fishing is a major reason Iceland's referendum to join the EU failed).
 
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Realitoes

Guest
#9
@Realitoes Iceland is a member of the EEA (not to mention the Schlegen Zone) so for purposes of commerce, enterprise, customer protections etc, they have to abide by EU law. About the only thing that doesn't apply is agriculture (fishing is a major reason Iceland's referendum to join the EU failed).
What this actually means is they are obligated to incorporate EU directives applicable to the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital into their laws. They don't abide by the EU law itself. One the the big differences is the individuals ability to seek redress in EU courts.
 
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Jul 18, 2017
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#10
jennifer dubost <jkdubost@yahoo.com>
To
Elliott's Help Forum

Today at 2:32 PM
Dear Neil, Christina,John, Realitoes, and Just A Guy,

Thank you for your responses, it is very much appreciated!

To further clarify, contrary to what the gate manager said, WOW flight WW422 was not cancelled and did fly from Reykjavik on 6/23, with on-time projections for landing in Lyon. Hotels.com listed numerous hotels available in Reykjavik for the night of 6/23, and there was availability on an afternoon flight from Reykjavik to Paris on 6/23 had we missed the connection for the flight from Reykjavik to Lyon (all as my dated screen shots document in the attachments below). The problem was that there was no attempt at the gate/terminal to help us or to even give "accurate" information; further, we could not contact their "customer service" by phone- on hold for well over an hour.

So, being told that we were denied boarding because the second flight was cancelled was untrue and I can only guess the reason we were denied boarding is that we were bumped (IDB). All the other passengers went on the flight, including others who had similar close connections like us.

Some questions still remain for me (I have read the DOT link as well as info about EU 126 on your website):
1. It seems that you are saying this should be handled under EU Regulation 261 which mandates 600 Euros for flights of more than 3500 km. Our denied boarding to flights WW126 Boston-Reykjavi and WW422 Reykjavik-Lyon (which was not cancelled and did fly) are each flights of about 3,900 km. But I guess there is a cap at 600 Euros in total under EU 261? Also, are passengers compensated for additional costs that the delay causes them ($1,561.67)? Please advise as to how much compensation we should request.

2. It also seems that at first we should only send a complaint directly to WOW, without cc to you or any other governing party; if they don't respond then we will contact other agents/agencies. Correct?

Again, I can't thank you enough for your support- this has been very nerve-wracking for me to try to figure out what to do.

Many, many thanks! Jen
 

Attachments

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#11
@Jen EU261 covers the itinerary not the flight.. so it's €600 per person. No airline pays consequential damages. Your best bet is to file a travel insurance claim for those if you purchased it or have it through your credit card.

Before you do anything, file the claim using the form on their website. That's the quickest way to get paid.
 
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Realitoes

Guest
#12
Jen,

Okay, I understand, your flight from BOS was delayed so much you couldn't make the connect flight in Reykjavik (flightaware shows your flight eventually arrived after your connection departed). Even in this case, the airline normally will not send you to a connection city if your unable to make the connection due to the delay. Still not covered under IDB. Again, you may qualify for compensation for the delay getting to your final destination, again depending on what caused the delay. Note that reasons such as strikes, ATC delays, weather, medical emergencies normally are normally reasons they don't have to pay the compensation.

You should first ask the airline for the compensation, I believe 600 Euro per person is the correct amount. Wow allows you to file this online as johnbaker indicated.

If they deny the claim, you can write the Icelandic Transport Authority (consumers@icetra.is) and ask them to review your claim. They may or may not be able to force the airline to pay (not sure what Icelandic law allows), but they should be able to tell you if you qualified.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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#13
Thanks for all the very helpful information everyone! I doubt it, but is there any kind of reporting or tracking (something like flightaware) as to whether a particular flight is overbooked (WW126 on 6/22/17)?

I don't know the real reason why we were taken off flight WW126 from Boston to Lyon. The gate manager said it was because the connecting flight WW422 on 6/23 from Reykjavik to Lyon had been cancelled, but that was not the case. Flight aware shows that Flight WW126 left Boston at 9:09PM on 6/22 and arrived in Reykjavik at 6:03AM on 6/23 and that Flight WW422 (was not cancelled) and left Reykjavik at 6:11AM on 6/23 (26 min. late) and arrived in Lyon at 11:36 (6 min. late).

When purchasing our tickets I was concerned about the scheduled close connection arriving Reykjavik on WW126 at 4:40AM and departing on WW422 at 5:45AM, but was told not to worry as the airport was very small and they would hold our connection. I guess I was gullible. If the reason for denied boarding is due to missing the connection for flight WW422 because of the delay of Flight WW126, is there any way to know what caused the delay? Or, do I just have to go with whatever the airline tells me?

Thanks again! Much appreciated!!
Jen
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#15
We have a couple of advocates who always seem to know what's going on inside an airline. Hopefully one of them can obtain this information for you.
 

kenish

Verified Member
Sep 1, 2015
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#16
FYI info on your post #13: The inbound flight from KEF to BOS was WW125. On 6/22 the aircraft departed KEF about 1h50 late and arrived into BOS 1h47 late (ETA 1730, Actual 1917) Hence you were already destined to miss your connection when the inbound BOS plane was still at the gate in KEF. That supports WOW's claim they emailed you in the afternoon, though it seems like that was one of their false claims. (You might ask what email address they used and a record the email was sent. In their defense, did you check your email spam folder?).

More FYI, the KEF-LYS flight is Fri/Sun/Mon/Wed only. That restricted the flight options out of BOS to Sat/Sun/Tues and it's likely there were no seats on the Sat/Sun flights.

I hope this gives you more info to frame your correspondence w/ WOW. Keep us updated!
 
Jul 18, 2017
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#17
Hello Christopher and Advocates! I saw your article in the Boston Globe Jan 7, 2018 and was encouraged that someone was paid by WOW Air for a delay. Is the Eu 261 amount owed $670 now ? Is that retroactive to an airline trip to which we were denied boarding on 6-22-2017 or does that EU 261 amount remain at $600? (in response to post #16, we did not see any email in regular or spam emails and wonder that if they had sent us such news of a cancelled flight, I would think that they would not have given us boarding passes for that flight and sent us on to the gate when we arrived at the airport).

I did put in email claims to claims.wowair.net on 7-31-2017 (and copied my claim to their CEO) and was given automated WOW claim ticket numbers for each of the 4 people traveling. There has been no response at all and the claims simply show that they are "open". As of today, it has now been 6 months.

Please let me know of the correct EU 261 amount and how you think I should best proceed from here.

With many, many thanks! Jennifer
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
10,661
11,249
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#18
Hello Christopher and Advocates! I saw your article in the Boston Globe Jan 7, 2018 and was encouraged that someone was paid by WOW Air for a delay. Is the Eu 261 amount owed $670 now ? Is that retroactive to an airline trip to which we were denied boarding on 6-22-2017 or does that EU 261 amount remain at $600? (in response to post #16, we did not see any email in regular or spam emails and wonder that if they had sent us such news of a cancelled flight, I would think that they would not have given us boarding passes for that flight and sent us on to the gate when we arrived at the airport).

I did put in email claims to claims.wowair.net on 7-31-2017 (and copied my claim to their CEO) and was given automated WOW claim ticket numbers for each of the 4 people traveling. There has been no response at all and the claims simply show that they are "open". As of today, it has now been 6 months.

Please let me know of the correct EU 261 amount and how you think I should best proceed from here.

With many, many thanks! Jennifer
Didn’t you ever file EU 261 after you posted this in July?
 
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