What to do when you've booked flights and the airline closes
It's rare but, like today's events have shown, it does unfortunately happen.
Organising a holiday is stress enough nevermind the added confusion of trying to get a refund, source new flights and find out where you stand in terms of your consumer rights when an airline goes bust.
The whole ordeal is obviously not ideal but thankfully, global travel company, Skyscanner, has the answers to many questions travellers might have today regarding refunds and travel insurance once an airline closes.
First things first, look into your method of payment to see if you can get a refund.
I booked my flights with a credit card….
Booking flights or a holiday with a credit card is always a good idea as you are more protected should anything go wrong. Credit card companies are equally responsible for losses should an airline go bust or go into insolvency. You should be able to make a claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, but this can only be invoked if your booking was over €100.
I booked my flights with a debit card…
If you booked your trip using your debit card it can be much trickier to make a claim. If however, you had an overdraft at the time, it is considered that you made the purchase "on credit" and should be entitled to a chargeback.
I booked my flight with a travel agent…
If you book with an Irish travel agent or tour operator, you should be covered by a compensation scheme run by the Irish aviation authority, the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR). This means that if the airline you are flying with goes bust while you are already on holiday, CAR will cover the cost of alternative flights to get you home.
I booked online or direct with an airline…
In Ireland, airlines don’t have a bonding scheme, nor are Internet bookings covered by the compensation scheme, because when the rules were drawn up in the 1980s there was no Internet and airlines were usually backed up by governments with deep pockets, which they no longer are. The sad reality is that if you booked direct with an airline that has now gone bust, and you are not covered with travel insurance, you will have to find your own way home from your holiday and will not receive compensation.
Next, where do you stand with insurance?
I’ve got travel insurance – am I covered?
The reality is that every single insurance company and insurance premium is different. It all depends on who you bought your travel insurance with, how much it cost and what it covers you for. For package holidays, many travel insurance companies will provide you with cover in the unlikely event of an airline going bust. Others will cover expenses for the loss of a holiday, while some may not cover anything.
If you were affected by WOW Air's closure today - you can get in touch with their customer care line here. Read their online statement here.
You can also get in touch with Citizen's Information here.