What to do if your airline stops operating before your flight departs

After posting long and mysterious delays, WOW AIR finally let passengers know in a statement on its website Thursday morning that the flight they were waiting for would be permanently canceled. Why? According to a statement on the WOW AIR website titled "End of WOW AIR operations," the airline "has ceased operations" and "all WOW AIR flights have been cancelled." The news was sudden and meant thousands of WOW travelers around the world were stranded in airports, wondering what passengers should do if their airline ceased operations before their flight.

To some travelers familiar with low-cost airlines, the WOW AIR news sounds eerily similar to what the now-defunct Danish carrier Primera Air was doing six months ago. In October 2018, Primera Air suddenly announced it was ceasing operations after 14 years of service, writing in a statement: "On behalf of the Primera Air team, we would like to thank you for your loyalty. On this sad day, our hearts go out to all of you. "Passengers around the world were stranded, but thankfully several airlines, including Delta, United and British Airways, stepped in to offer stranded passengers discounted fares to help them get to their destinations.

For most travelers, however, the situation is deeply confusing: Passengers are unaware of what their rights are if the airline they booked their tickets on suddenly shuts down. And it's rare, so why would anyone study it? That said, it is becoming an increasingly important message with the launch of several budget airlines in the travel industry.

With WOW AIR closed, hundreds of stranded travelers took to Twitter to question what they should do:

Bustle reached out to AirNSquare, a company that specializes in helping travelers get compensation for delays, flight cancellations, and other en route mishaps, to learn about travelers stranded due to airline closures. In the case of WOW AIR, an AirNSquare representative said passengers should immediately contact another airline with flights departing from the same airport to cut their losses and book a new flight before leaving.

If you're wondering which airline to contact, Icelandair is raising a hand to let stranded travelers know they're here to help. Amid the chaos on Thursday, Icelandair posted a statement on its website, which read: "Do you hold a WOW ticket? We are offering stranded WOW passengers economy class departures from selected destinations. Discounted fares." So this should be one of the calls you make. If you are currently trapped and unable to fly.

As for what to do in the future, AirNSquare continues, you can try to apply for a refund from the original airline that closed, but realistically, that's unlikely to lead to anything, considering the reason for the airline's closure was bankruptcy.

"Often these procedures take years to resolve, and when the dust settles, individual travelers often receive next to no refunds," an AirNSquare representative explained. He noted that back in 2017, AirBerlin and Monarch Airlines have all gone bankrupt, and bankruptcy proceedings are still being sorted out in 2019.

All these depressing facts aside, AirNSquare adds that passengers are covered through insurance. Passengers should be covered if they purchased flight insurance when purchasing their tickets – just check the terms of the insurance package before buying. Depending on the credit card used by passengers to purchase their tickets, they may also be protected. If you're not sure, contact your bank as soon as possible to find out if you're covered.

Long story; Doctor? If there was ever a climate for buying travel insurance, this is it. Before booking your next flight, check to make sure the credit card you use has travel insurance, or purchase additional coverage when you check out. While you might think there would be warning signs or updates, the reality of airline bankruptcies is that when the money runs out, the plug gets pulled. No matter how many people are on standby, no matter how many flights are booked, a failing airline doesn't have to follow any rules when it comes to letting travelers know about the situation. What's more, if they don't have the money to refund you, you probably won't get it.