WOW did not offer me the first available flight after flight was cancelled (offered a flight 11 days out).

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Apr 10, 2018
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#1
I am reaching out in regards to an issue I have with WOW airlines. I have run out of options, as WOW has not responded to my letters. I have written to the Director of Communications, the Chief Executive, WOW customer service, Attorney General of my state who forwarded my letter to the Department of Transportation.
The issue is the following:
  • I was scheduled on flight WW443 from the Netherlands to Chicago through Iceland in December of 2017.
  • The flight to Iceland was severely delayed and then cancelled. The reason for the delay was severe weather in the Netherlands and when we were ready to depart a customer experienced a medical emergency at which time we had to return to the gate. I understand that this would be considered extra-ordinary circumstances. WOW airlines communicated by e-mail where an option for a new flight could be chosen. I requested to be rebooked on the first available flight. The flight offered by WOW airlines was 11 days after my original flight.
  • It was not possible to communicate with WOW airlines by phone and I did e-mail that this return offer was not truly acceptable. I called throughout the night and called again after going in person to the airport where the airline did not offer assistance (all in an attempt to get on an earlier flight). I therefore had no other option then to purchase a new ticket with a different airline as it was not feasible to stay 11 days longer in the Netherlands and I assumed by this time that the offered flight 11 days later, was indeed the first available flight. I bought the most economical option and it was also cheaper then the $1100 dollars that WOW would otherwise have had to reimburse me for hotel accommodations (11 days x $100). I am not even talking about lost wages as well as the need to go home.
  • After purchasing this new ticket. I decided that evening to do a search for a return flight on WOW just to see if WOW had indeed offered to place me on the first available flight out. To my great surprise,, the first available flight came up 4 days after my initial flight (a full week earlier then what was offered to me). I have screen shots of my search, proving that this flight was available.
  • This is a FULL week earlier than the return flight WOW airlines offered. Therefore, it is my interpretation that WOW airlines is in clear violation of its own declaration of customers rights. I understand (after reviewing UE regulation 261/2004) that if WOW had offered to fly me home on the flight 4 days after the cancelled flight, that my request for re-imbursemen of my new ticket would have been denied.
  • After returning home and reviewing the WOW airlines website, I realized that the true error was the violation of not flying me home on the first available flight. Therefore I feel that I am entitled to compensation of the full new airline ticket cost,, as I should not have had to purchase this ticket. WOW airlines should have flown me home on their first available flight (4 days after my initial/cancelled flight).
  • WOW airlines refunded the cost of the unused WOW airlines return ticket, which was offered by WOW airlines and in my opinion does not release WOW airlines of the responsibility to refund my new ticket.
  • Customer service states that they are not able to assist me and really never answered my question on how this is not a full violation of their own customer rights which are listed on their website. They stated that this would be an issue for the legal department. I asked for a review by the legal department and to be brought into contact with them and customer service stated that they can not do so. I have multiple emails and it resulted in getting the same answers and therefore I am now stuck in a circle and they refuse to answer my questions and refuse to connect me with legal.
  • I did not receive answers from the director of communications or the chief executive at any point. Only customer service communicated with me, but they never answered my questions. (I wrote 2 letters and provided all the proof)
  • I wrote to The Attorney General of the state I live in and they forwarded my letter to the department of transportation who has sent it to WOW with the request to answer my complain, which as of today they have not done (1 month).
  • I hope you can help me to get a response from WOW airlines and a refund of the $843,13 dollars that I had to spend due to WOW airlines not following their own declaration of customers right.

With friendly regards:
 
Last edited:
Sep 19, 2015
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#2
Ah Marit, what a mess. I have never flown WOW, but I suspect that one way they have such low costs is that they do not have much customer service available. Was there anyone available at the airport or had they all fled? I have heard that WOW is really hard to deal with when there is a problem because of the lack of customer service issues.
I guess it was not possible to change the new itinerary online?

Once you have written to the DOT you have to wait for their response; I believe WOW has 60 days to respond, so you still have some time to wait. Has WOW even acknowledged the complaint?

From the DOT website
DOT requires airlines to acknowledge consumer complaints within 30 days of receiving them and to send consumers written responses addressing these complaints within 60 days of receiving them. DOT also requires airlines to let consumers know how to complain to them.

Now here are some of the issues I see. The passenger having a medical emergency likely counts as an extraordinary circumstance so that may give WOW an excuse to not even pay the hotel compensation and all required by EU 261. And I could see WOW saying that when they booked your flight for 11 days later the flight th the 4 days was fully booked but then those people cancelled or changed so the flight 4 days later became available. This is not what I believe, it just what I think may happen. Sometimes when the computer automatically books another flight it may not truly be the best, as I have found out (I was given an unreasonably short connection in FRA once which is a large airport, and it would not have worked, but it was easy to get on the phone and change it).

At this point I think you have to wait for the DOT response, as most customer service contacts will not want to interfere with that process

Others will likely give their thoughts and there are people with a lot more experience with issues such as this.

I do think WOW should give you some good will compensation, but I am not sure if WOW will see it that way.
 
Apr 10, 2018
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#4
Ah Marit, what a mess. I have never flown WOW, but I suspect that one way they have such low costs is that they do not have much customer service available. Was there anyone available at the airport or had they all fled? I have heard that WOW is really hard to deal with when there is a problem because of the lack of customer service issues.
I guess it was not possible to change the new itinerary online?

Once you have written to the DOT you have to wait for their response; I believe WOW has 60 days to respond, so you still have some time to wait. Has WOW even acknowledged the complaint?

From the DOT website
DOT requires airlines to acknowledge consumer complaints within 30 days of receiving them and to send consumers written responses addressing these complaints within 60 days of receiving them. DOT also requires airlines to let consumers know how to complain to them.

Now here are some of the issues I see. The passenger having a medical emergency likely counts as an extraordinary circumstance so that may give WOW an excuse to not even pay the hotel compensation and all required by EU 261. And I could see WOW saying that when they booked your flight for 11 days later the flight th the 4 days was fully booked but then those people cancelled or changed so the flight 4 days later became available. This is not what I believe, it just what I think may happen. Sometimes when the computer automatically books another flight it may not truly be the best, as I have found out (I was given an unreasonably short connection in FRA once which is a large airport, and it would not have worked, but it was easy to get on the phone and change it).

At this point I think you have to wait for the DOT response, as most customer service contacts will not want to interfere with that process

Others will likely give their thoughts and there are people with a lot more experience with issues such as this.

I do think WOW should give you some good will compensation, but I am not sure if WOW will see it that way.
Thank you for your response. I appreciate your thoughts and information.
1. WOW customer service was not available at the airport. When trying to get on a flight by going there, the check in counter said, that they could not do so and that you had to call the airline. The problem was that I had been trying to call them all night and continuing the next day. I was never able to get through (they must have been bombarded with calls that weekend.
2. They offered the new flight date by e-mail, but when I emailed them that that was too long, it never got resolved, which is why I felt I had to book a new ticket.
3. Absolutely agree on the medical issue. WOW did send an email that compensation for hotel was offered, which is why I put it in there.
4. WOW has not acknowledged the complain sent through DOT, but I understand that I am still in that 30-60 days time frame. I will wait a bit longer
5. I do see your point about the computer automatically booking. The problem is that we will never know, as it was impossible to speak with them.

Thank you for responding. Greetings,
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#6
Marit I had to look some things up, but yes, even with an extraordinary circumstances WOW would have had to pay for the hotel as you were stranded -- which is a good argument for why you should be reimbursed. You ended up costing them less overall.

I think most of the WOW people at the airport do not work for the airline, they are employees of another company that subcontracts with the airline - Some of these low cast carriers really do not have permanent customer service staff who actually care about the airline.

I do think you are owed compensation as I have thought about this some more.
 
Apr 10, 2018
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#7
Marit I had to look some things up, but yes, even with an extraordinary circumstances WOW would have had to pay for the hotel as you were stranded -- which is a good argument for why you should be reimbursed. You ended up costing them less overall.

I think most of the WOW people at the airport do not work for the airline, they are employees of another company that subcontracts with the airline - Some of these low cast carriers really do not have permanent customer service staff who actually care about the airline.

I do think you are owed compensation as I have thought about this some more.
Thank you, I am glad you feel that I have a case. I will wait a bit longer and hope that WOW will come back with a response in the next bit of time (before the 60 days are up) and will offer that compensation. Greetings
 
Apr 10, 2018
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#9
Once you file a DOT complaint the airline will no longer respond to you. So you most likely will not hear from WOW- you have to wait to see what the DOT determines.
Thank you Neil. The e-mail that DOT send me, stated that they forwarded my complaint to WOW and that they are asking WOW to communicate to me directly.
Does that change what I should be expecting? Thank you
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#10
You shouldn’t expect WOW to contact you. They now have a certain time frame to respond to the DOT, then the DOT has to review the information and make a recommendation.

Once you go to the DOT- we can no longer assist because the airline will not talk to us.

You have no choice but to sit tight and wait and see what the DOT says.
 
Apr 10, 2018
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#11
all
You shouldn’t expect WOW to contact you. They now have a certain time frame to respond to the DOT, then the DOT has to review the information and make a recommendation.

Once you go to the DOT- we can no longer assist because the airline will not talk to us.

You have no choice but to sit tight and wait and see what the DOT says.
Allright, thank you for the advice. I will wait the extra time and see what happens.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,262
12,444
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#12
My wife learned something new from a former airport worker- you might see seats on a flight but if the available seats on the alternate flight you are not the same class that you had - the airline won’t necesssrily put you in them. The airlines can apparently offer you seats on the next flight with seats available in the class of ticket you had.
 
Apr 10, 2018
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#13
My wife learned something new from a former airport worker- you might see seats on a flight but if the available seats on the alternate flight you are not the same class that you had - the airline won’t necesssrily put you in them. The airlines can apparently offer you seats on the next flight with seats available in the class of ticket you had.
It's amazing all the things airlines can do. But the odd thing of their logic is that it would have cost them more to put me up in a hotel for all those days and they still never answered any of my questions. I appreciate all your help and will patiently wait. Greetings:
 
Likes: Neil Maley