Q: A few months ago, my WOW air flight from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Keflavik, Iceland, was delayed. That caused me and my travel companion to miss our connecting flight to Baltimore.
The next day, WOW rerouted us to Washington Dulles International Airport on Icelandair. But our car was 60 miles away at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
I filed a complaint four months ago and haven’t heard anything. I also submitted receipts for the shuttle ($82) and extra day of parking ($10). I can’t get a response from WOW, and when I try calling, the airline has a recording that says it doesn’t hear anyone on the line and it disconnects the call.
I’d like to be reimbursed for the cost of the shuttle and extra day of parking we incurred because WOW placed us on a different flight home. Can you help? – Colleen Lamont, Towson, Md.
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A: Wow, what a nightmare! Of course the airline should have operated your first return flight on time and on schedule and given you plenty of time to connect with your next flight back home. Then we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all.
But airlines are not required to operate their flights on schedule, and (at least in the United States) they face minimal consequence when they fail to do so. Not so in Europe. I’ll get to that in a minute.
WOW, a discount airline, delayed the Edinburgh-to-Keflavik leg because of technical problems. When that happened, it should have booked you on the next available flight and covered any incidental expenses, including, you might assume, your shuttle ride.
But that’s not exactly how it works. Unless you have a specific agreement with an airline representative – preferably in writing – WOW’s contract with you is fulfilled when you land. You accepted its return flight and that’s it. In other words, the airline is probably ignoring you because it has nothing to say. Still, that’s no excuse for giving you the silent treatment or disconnecting your call. WOW can do better.
Once you were back in Baltimore, you could have sent a brief and polite e-mail to one of the airline’s executives. I list the names, numbers and e-mail addresses for the WOW managers on my consumer-advocacy website: http://elliott.org/company-contacts/wow-air.
I have good news and better news. WOW agreed to reimburse you after I contacted the airline on your behalf. But EU law – specifically a regulation called EU 261 – requires that airlines compensate passengers when there’s a lengthy delay. Under EU 261, you could be entitled to 250 euros each. Once my advocacy team pointed this out to WOW, the airline agreed to sweeten the deal. That compensation ought to pay for your parking expenses, and if fares stay low, another flight back to Europe.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.