Travel

Travel Troubleshooter

Why won’t WOW Air refund her canceled flight?

Q. I have been struggling to get any feedback from WOW Air about my refund request for a flight it canceled from Paris to Reykjavik. WOW was supposed to book me the next day but didn’t have any availability. I asked for a refund.

I also submitted a claim through its website. I never received a confirmation e-mail or a claim number. I called WOW four times and spent more than three hours on hold. They were international phone calls, which were expensive.

The receipt WOW gave me at the airport after canceling my flight showed the refund due as $537. The fine print at the bottom of the booking invoice to contact WOW’s customer service was the phone number for Mokulele Airlines, a Hawaiian airline.

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The stress of the situation is rough. I really need my reimbursement so I can pay bills and get back on track. I didn’t go to France for a vacation but for an emergency. I’m not asking for anything more than the money I paid for the portion of the flight that WOW did not honor, and potentially the indemnity governed by EU 261/2004, the European airline consumer protection regulation. Can you help me?

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TIEMI WASHINGTON,

Maywood, Ill.

A. WOW Air should have refunded your ticket and then some. Under EU 261/2004, the European regulation you cited, you’re entitled to compensation for your delay.

In reviewing your correspondence, it looks as if the Icelandic airline promised you a refund within six weeks. But the money never showed up in your account. That’s because people often misunderstand refunds. An airline has up to six weeks to send the money to your credit card — that’s a generous amount of time — but it might not show up on your credit card for two to three billing cycles. In other words, a refund that’s initiated by WOW today might take 12 weeks to appear in your account.

I know. It’s ridiculous.

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There are a few ways you could have saved your time with this request. First, the four phone calls and more than three hours on the phone were entirely avoidable. Calling to check on a refund is not advisable. You might get an answer after being transferred to several departments, but any verbal assurances you receive are worthless. You need written evidence — a cancellation number, a debit memo, anything that verifies that your money is on its way.

Armed with that information, you then can appeal your refund case to one of the WOW Air executive contacts listed on my consumer-advocacy site: www.elliott.org/company-
contacts/wow-air/
.

I contacted WOW on your behalf. It sent you the promised refund and the compensation it owed you under European law.

Christopher Elliott can be reached at chris@elliott.org.