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WOW AIR Files for Bankruptcy: Am I Protected by My Elite Credit Card?

Icelandic carrier WOW AIR goes bust and cancels all flights, effective immediately. Here’s what to do if you purchased a WOW AIR flight with an elite credit card.

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Icelandic carrier WOW AIR goes bust and cancels all flights, effective immediately. Here’s what to do if you purchased a WOW AIR flight with an elite credit card.
Icelandic carrier WOW AIR goes bust and cancels all flights, effective immediately. Here’s what to do if you purchased a WOW AIR flight with an elite credit card.
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Icelandic carrier WOW AIR, which services routes between Iceland, Europe, Asia, and North America, has officially ceased operation. According to the airline, “All WOW AIR flights have been cancelled.” This literally happened last night, even as passengers were getting ready to board flights. Here’s what to do if you purchased a WOW AIR flight with an elite credit card.

What should I do if I am currently stranded or have an upcoming flight on WOW AIR?

If you are currently stranded, WOW AIR isn’t going to help you; you’ll need to get home on your own. The official line from WOW: “Passengers are advised to check available flights with other airlines. Some airlines may offer flights at a reduced rate, so-called rescue fares, in light of the circumstances.” Likewise, if you have an upcoming flight, WOW AIR is not going to accommodate you.

The solution in both cases is to book a new ticket and save all receipts. If you purchased your airline ticket with certain elite credit cards, you may be entitled to reimbursement under implicit trip cancellation and insurance policies.

Do I have any consumer rights for the cancellation of WOW AIR flights?

WOW AIR’s official statement on passenger rights begins, “Passengers whose ticket was paid with a credit card are advised to contact their credit card company to check whether a refund of the ticket cost will be issued.” We are highly doubtful a credit card will automatically offer a refund on WOW AIR’s behalf. You could try disputing the charge and explaining the situation, but this is likely a losing battle.

Additionally, WOW AIR states, “Passengers may also be entitled to compensation from WOW AIR, including in accordance with European regulation on Air Passenger Rights. In case of a bankruptcy, claims should be filed to the administrator/liquidator.” There are no details at press time to file such a claim.

Finally, the WOW AIR statement advises, “Passengers who may have bought travel protection, or those passengers whose credit card terms may include such protection, may be entitled to claim compensation and assistance due to delays or travel disruption. However, such compensation is often limited.” Now, we’re getting somewhere! If you purchased your airline ticket with certain elite credit cards, you may be entitled to reimbursement under implicit trip cancellation and interruption policies. But the key lies in the fine print. Most credit cards offer trip cancellation and interruption policies, but covered reasons may be limited to things like inclement weather, illness, jury duty, and hijacking. In addition, some elite credit cards include bankruptcy of common carriers as a covered reason for compensation.

Read on to see if your credit card may save the day for this WOW AIR bankruptcy disaster and if you are entitled to up to $10,000 in reimbursed ticket costs or absolutely nothing!

What may I be entitled to if I bought my WOW AIR ticket using my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card?

When charging airline tickets to either of the Chase Sapphire cards, the implicit trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance policies compensate loss from “financial insolvency of the Cardholder’s travel agency, tour operator, or travel supplier.” Coverage is provided up to $10,000 per trip. Call the Benefits Administrator to discuss what paperwork must be filed.

What may I be entitled to if I bought my WOW AIR ticket using my Citi Prestige® Card?

When charging airline tickets to the Citi Prestige® Card, the implicit trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance policies compensate loss when “a travel supplier, such as an airline or lodge, goes out of business or goes into financial default after the purchase of the Trip, impairing the Covered Travelers ability to travel.” Coverage is provided up to $5,000 per trip. Call the Benefits Administrator to discuss what paperwork must be filed.

What may I be entitled to if I bought my WOW AIR ticket using my U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card?

When charging airline tickets to the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card, the implicit trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance policies compensate loss from “default of the Common Carrier resulting from Financial Insolvency.” Coverage is provided up to $2,000 per trip. Call the Benefits Administrator to discuss what paperwork must be filed.

What may I be entitled to if I bought my WOW AIR ticket using one of the Luxury Cards: Mastercard® Black Card™, Mastercard® Gold Card™, or Mastercard® Titanium Card™?

Luxury Card does provide a form of trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance when charging airline tickets to any of their three cards. However, under their policies, airline and agency insolvencies are NOT covered reasons for insurance collection. In this case, expected coverage is $0 per trip.

What may I be entitled to if I bought my WOW AIR ticket using American Express Platinum and Gold Cards?

It often seems that American Express’ premium cards offer an endless array of benefits. However, we were pretty surprised to find that trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance is not one of them. With all American Express cards, expected coverage is $0 per trip.

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Award-winning travel writer and economist Paul Rubio is a credit card enthusiast, whose sophisticated use of points and rewards has helped him travel to 125 countries for free. Paul is a Harvard graduate with a master’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in economics. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University with a double major in economics and environmental policy and a minor in conservation biology. He attended both undergraduate and graduate schools on full scholarships. Paul worked in the field of wildlife conservation before embracing his writing talents full-time in 2008. Since then, he has won more than two dozen national awards for his exemplary work in travel journalism. The prolific writer contributes to a number of top-tier international, national, and regional publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Fodors.com, Palm Beach Illustrated, Private Clubs, and Robb Report.