In 2019 we’ve already seen two airlines go bankrupt in Europe. FlyBMI and Wow Air both collapsed leaving travellers stranded and holiday plans ruined. So what can you do if your airline goes bust?
The airline industry is a hugely competitive market, with seat prices often slashed to mega low prices despite airlines struggling to turn a profit. Bums on seats is the name of the game, and sometimes at any cost.
Recent bankruptcies in Europe include Primera Air, FlyBMI, Wow Air, Monarch and Air Berlin. And these won’t be the last either… With many airlines reported to be struggling, changing economic situations such as Brexit are threatening the long term strategy for some.
So if you’ve booked a ticket and you’re either abroad, or preparing to go, what can you do if your airline goes bankrupt?
Check with the airline
More often than not, if the airline has gone bankrupt then that’s it. Your money will have evaporated and you’ll be left to make your own arrangements. On occasion there might be an announcement on the airline’s website about what to do next, although it is normally ‘make your own arrangements’.
Sometimes in the event of a failed airline, other airlines offer repatriation fares. For example, when Wow Air failed in March 2019, IcelandAir offered special discounts to Wow Air customers who were stranded overseas.
If you’ve booked a package with a travel agent then they should be ATOL protected, meaning they’re insured against this type of thing. Get in touch with your travel agent and make sure they have alternatives covered.
In the event that its a big disruption or it’s at a peak time, you might find some inconveniences like changed dates of departure or parties being split up to travel.
If you’ve booked with a company that is ATOL protected, you are also elegible to claim your money back from the civil airline authority.
You did get travel insurance, right? Usually your travel insurance will cover you in the event of a bankrupt airline. There might be an excess which can render the price of the ticket irrelevant – but in general travel insurance should cover you against cancelled flights as well as airlines who go out of business.
Credit Card Protection
Booking with a credit card usually means you have some degree of protection. Credit card companies often have some kind of payment protection for purchases of a certain value, usually over £100. Check with your bank if you’re due a refund of your ticket price if your airline has gone bust.
Buying Another Ticket
On occasion it can be simpler just to search online for the next available flight from a nearby airport. If your airline going bust has left you in the lurch and there are no options from your closest airport option, spread the net a little wider and see what you can find.
Our handy flight widget with SkyScanner below will help you search flights from ‘nearby airports’. If you’re looking at a costly long haul ticket to get home then you can even ask specific airlines if they can help you out. They might not all be able to do something, but if you don’t ask you don’t get!
To ensure you’re covered in the event of your airline going bankrupt, make sure you take out travel insurance which covers bankruptcy, use a credit card to book your flights and/or use an ATOL protected travel agent for your bookings.