Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Dodging A Bullet

We've all read news stories about a business going under and wondered what happened to the people who had tickets for the cruise or the flight, but Earl and I had never faced that ourselves -- until this week.
Earl was scheduled to fly back to the States next month on Wow Air. That's the cheap airline that lands in Iceland, and they went belly-up on Thursday, leaving him holding useless tickets.
We hadn't heard about Wow Air until our friend Najah flew over last year. She drove from Columbus to Pittsburgh and flew Pittsburgh to Reykjavik to Paris.
Iceland looks a bit bleak

When Earl needed to go home quickly last August (the height of airfare costs from Europe to the States) he flew Wow. Then when I rushed home in February, going one way, the cost was cheapest again on Wow.
I returned on Norwegian, another low cost airfare.
Our experiences were fine, although, at one point when they announced, is there a doctor on board, I thought, "Really, would a doctor fly Wow Air?"
Unlike most airlines, Wow did not have in-seat entertainment. Maybe it seems spoiled to want to have movie and TV choices on an 8 or 9-hour flight, but it sure does make the flights go faster.
When we learned on Thursday about the death of Wow Air, we wondered if we should have been more aware. I had seen an article with the headline like "Why It's Safe to Fly on Wow Air" and I tried to click on it but I was blocked because I didn't have a subscription to The Guardian. That just made me think, huh, I wonder if we shouldn't be flying on Wow.
There was some muttering about financing, but other articles assured that the funding always comes through at the end through Iceland.
So we obliviously scheduled a flight on Wow.
When we saw through our online news that the company had gone under, we regretted not buying the flight insurance. Then we hopped on and rearranged another flight for Earl. We figured that everyone would be looking for replacement flights.
On Travelocity, we found a flight that was even cheaper than the Wow Air flight. So we booked it (he will have to pay for checked luggage since he's taking his backpack home for a hiking trip) but we felt fortunate to be able to schedule so last minute for $631 (561 euros).
Then we had to worry about how to get our money back. CNN told us we were basically screwed. We could file with the company but we would become one of many creditors asking for our money back. Another article suggested that credit card companies might have been keep track of the shaky finances of the airline and have held back money instead of paying upfront.
Earl contacted our credit card company the next day and they said the money would be refunded within 7 days! What a relief, and a reminder that using the right credit card company is important.
So no more WOW, but I'm convinced that we'll be better off choosing a specific airline and flying with them every time to earn points.
And will we be using that credit card again? Yep, whenever we book travel, count on us using our Sapphire card.

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