Alice Manos has been looking forward to her Paris vacation for months.
The 23-year-old Washington, D.C., woman, who was raised in France, bought a $425 round trip ticket on budget Icelandic carrier WOW Air to see her family for nine days.
She was due to leave Baltimore on Friday night.
WOW Air’s collapse on Thursday, after several failed attempts to line up investors, has Manos scrambling to find alternative flights. She already has the time off from the nonprofit where she handles marketing and communications.
Manos tried Icelandair, which is touting discounted fares for stranded WOW Air passengers on its website.
The cheapest fare they offered after 50 minutes on the phone: $1,015 round trip. The earliest she could get out was April 1. And she had to get to Boston for the flight.
“It’s basically false promotion,” she said.
Manos said she is searching other airlines for affordable tickets and said her family is seeing if they can cobble together enough frequent flier miles to get her there.
“I’ve taken my vacation days. I need to go,” she said.
Travelers stranded by WOW or holding tickets for future flights have limited options because last-minute flights are expensive and flights to and from Europe on other carriers were never as cheap as WOW’s bargain flights even in advance. WOW’s flights included a stop at its home base in Iceland.
The airline with the purple planes was famous for $99 one-way tickets between the United States and Iceland and was touting those deals from Boston and Newark as recently as Wednesday. The airline has been shrinking recently due to its financial l woes and had cut flights from many U.S. cities. It was down to four U.S. cities: Boston, Detroit, Newark and Baltimore.
Here are 5 tips for travelers affected by the WOW Air shutdown
1. Don’t show up at the airport hoping to magically find a replacement flight. There will be no WOW Air customer service desk to help you. The airline has gone out of business. A notice on its website offers passengers little help.
2. Check other airlines to see if they are offering discounted fares for stranded WOW passengers. But beware the fine print. Icelandair’s offer of $160 fares between North America and Europe, for example, only applies to travelers whose trips are already underway, with a return ticket on WOW between March 28 and April 11.
3. Call the credit card company you used to book your ticket immediately to see if it offers any protections in these cases. In the case of recently purchased tickets, you might be able to stop payment.
4. If you booked a ticket through a travel agency or partner airline, especially if it’s a vacation package, check your eligibility for a refund, advises AirHelp, which helps airline passengers claim airline compensation. The Icelandic Airport Authority says passengers who bought their ticket from a European travel agent as a part of a package tour are protected by the Package Travel Directive. Those passengers are advised to contact their travel agent to arrange an alternative flight.
5. If you bought travel insurance, now’s the time to read the fine print. It might cover alternative flights, hotel accommodations and other expenses for stranded passengers. The Icelandic Airport Authority notes, though, that such compensation is often limited.
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