Thousands of Travelers Stranded After WOW Air Budget Airline Shuts Down Overnight

Many passengers report being contacted to buy seat upgrades and other perks just minutes before the airline ceased operations.

byChris Tsui|
Thousands of Travelers Stranded After WOW Air Budget Airline Shuts Down Overnight

In a travel alert issued Thursday, Iceland's Wow Air announced that it has ceased operations and canceled all of its flights. According to Iceland Review, an estimated 2,700 to 4,000 passengers have been stranded as a result. 

The low-cost airline advises stranded travelers to check other airlines for "rescue fares," discounted flights offered by its former competition "in light of the circumstances." Alas, Icelandair and Hungarian budget airline Wizz Air—yes, that is its real name—have stepped up in offering low-cost alternatives for stranded Wow customers. 

From an Icelandair statement, "Icelandair is aware of the situation following the news of the bankruptcy of Wow Air. We are currently working on a plan in order to assist stranded passengers in need of assistance to return home. It is expected to be ready in the next couple of hours."

Somewhat ironically, Icelandair backed out of plans to buy already-struggling Wow Air late last year, according to CNBC

In its travel alert, Wow goes on to tell passengers who paid for their canceled flights with a credit card to contact their credit card company to request a refund. Those who purchased tickets through a Package Travel Directive-protected tour through a European travel agent should be entitled to an alternative flight. The shuttered airline adds that stranded passengers may be eligible for compensation from Wow Air itself per European regulation on Air Passenger Rights and can file a claim with its administrator/liquidator. 

Based out of Keflavík International Airport, Wow Air employed around 1,000 people and ran a fleet of 11 planes servicing 26 destinations.