Budget airline Wizz Air has been forced to pay back £1.2 million to thousands of customers who had their refund claims rejected
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has revealed that thousands of UK-based Wizz Air customers have been paid back a total of £1.2m for costs relating to flight disruptions.
The regulator launched enforcement action against the Hungarian airline last Summer. Since then, more than 25,000 claims have been re-assessed and additional payments have been made in around 6,000 cases. Payments cover refunds for costs like replacement flights, airport transfers and hotels.
The airline has also improved the way it handles claims, such as introducing an automated refund process.
Alex Neill, co-founder of Consumer Voice, said:
‘It’s good news people have finally got back what they’re owed and changes have been made to Wizz Air’s practices as a result of the regulator stepping in. However, it’s disappointing that this intervention was necessary to enforce basic consumer rights. This should be a warning shot to all airlines that if they don’t play by the rules they will be punished.’
The refunds made to passengers don’t include compensation payments customers could be eligible for when flights are delayed or cancelled.
Wizz Air passengers left frustrated
The measures taken by Wizz Air follow enforcement action taken by the CAA last year after many passengers complained the airline was not paying them what they’re owed.
Passengers were left frustrated because they believed the airline had failed to meet its passenger rights obligations, particularly around providing alternative flights to get them to their destinations when their flight had been cancelled.
Passengers also felt Wizz Air was not providing appropriate care when flights were significantly delayed.
Paul Smith, consumer director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said:
‘While we welcome the steps taken by Wizz Air after falling short in its treatment of disrupted passengers, airlines should routinely look after passengers and uphold their rights when flights are delayed and cancelled.
‘Passengers have every right to expect their claims to be resolved quickly, efficiently and in line with the regulations. These outcomes will now provide Wizz Air’s passengers with a better experience.’
The regulator’s action covered claims made for flights due to depart from or arrive into a UK airport on or after 18 March 2022.
What are my basic rights when I fly?
If your flight is cancelled, the airline must offer you an alternative flight at the earliest opportunity, and of comparable standard. It must also pay you back any costs you incur if you choose to book your own (comparable) replacement flights.
The airline must also pay for you to transfer to a nearby airport in order to fly to your destination, if you decide this is the best alternative.
Finally, airlines are required to pay for food and accommodation for all passengers whose flights are cancelled or delayed by more than two hours.
You may also be eligible to claim additional compensation when slights when you are significantly delayed by late or cancelled flights.
Wizz Air says it is improving customer experience
Marion Geoffroy, Wizz Air’s UK managing director, said: ‘We are pleased the Civil Aviation Authority has recognised the significant steps Wizz Air has taken to improve performance for our customers.’
‘Like all airlines in Europe, we faced unprecedented operating challenges in the summer of 2022 but the improvements we put in place have led to a better customer experience and our performance in 2023 was among the strongest in the industry. We are seeing a significant uptick in our customer satisfaction scores and we remain fully committed to continuing to improve our operations in 2024 and beyond.”
Wizz Air was the worst airline for UK flight delays in 2021 and 2022. It was also named the UK’s worst airline by consumer group Which? following a survey of more than 8,000 travellers.
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