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The Budget Airline You’re Most Likely to Complain About

The Budget Airline You’re Most Likely to Complain About
Sharon Hsu

When it comes to budget airlines, passengers are often willing to pay a little extra beyond the discounted base fare for legroom and wider seats. But what happens when you don’t get the upgrades that you purchased? Mounting complaints about poor customer service at WOW Airlines have some passengers questioning if budget airlines are worth the hype or the hassle.

When retired history teacher Bill Brown bought a ticket from WOW Airlines eight months before a trip to the United Kingdom, he was equally excited about seeing the sights and flying directly from his hometown of St. Louis, where WOW had recently expanded.

“From the city of St. Louis flying almost anywhere is a hippity hop, you don’t get to go directly to where you’d like to go,” Brown told the investigative team at KSDK News. Because of a recent surgery, he had chosen to upgrade to a larger seat with extra legroom for additional comfort during the long-haul flight.

But when he arrived at the airport for his return flight home, the airline informed him that they had changed planes and that his upgraded seat was no longer available. To add insult to injury, he arrived back to St. Louis to discover that his luggage had been misplaced, along with nearly two dozen other passengers’. The airline refused to refund his ticket until the KSDK team got involved.

Other WOW Airlines passengers have recently complained to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about overbooked flights, lost luggage and poor customer service.

Would Brown fly WOW again? In reflecting about his experience to KSDK, he concluded, “If they realize word of mouth gets around, no one is going to want to use those flights.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (8)


  1. Proudelitist

    July 19, 2018 at 3:16 am

    Buy cheap, get cheap. This should be no surprise to anyone.

  2. SarcasticMisanthrope

    July 19, 2018 at 5:41 am

    You get what you pay for.

  3. twb3

    July 19, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Story implies that WOW flies STL to London, it does not. All WOW flights from STL go to KEF as far as I know and require a connection. How this is better than flying STL-ORD and connecting to London on any number of carriers escapes me. I considered WOW for a recent trip to Dublin, but the connect time in KEF was 26 hours – no thanks at whatever price!

  4. kkua

    July 19, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    If you can afford a holiday, you can afford to pay for proper airline service. These poor travelers deserve what they pay for. Cheap no-frills airlines are nothing shy of being called robbers in the air.

  5. haarpquake

    July 20, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    Click bait title. Data point: on a recent trip to KEF our XXL seats weren’t available due to aircraft change. So instead we got XL seats. I messaged their customer service and got like a $100 credit. It was a money maker and still a comfortable flight. I like luxury class flights and I also like flying Southwest. I’d say this is like Southwest +. Recommended overall.

  6. KRSW

    July 20, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    Word of mouth about how RyanAIr, EasyJet,, Spirit, and Allegiant work, even some nasty articles about lack of maintenance at Allegiant, haven’t seem to affected their business.

    There are plenty of people who are willing to put their $ over their life/comfort/sanity.

  7. southpac

    July 21, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    all airlines switch aircraft sometimes at short notice, for economic(another route might be better for a different sized or seat config aircraft) or maintenance reasons(a warning light was showing)

    Changing aircraft at KEF is easy, it’s int to int. No changing terminals.

    For this single reason alone many Australians fly Air NZ to USA & Canada. Changing from dom to int terminals or vice versa is a time consuming pain in the arse at many busy airports.

  8. JimInOhio

    July 23, 2018 at 11:33 am

    @southpac — as twb3 asked, how is it easier than connecting through ORD? The flight from STL to ORD could conceivably arrive at an adjacent gate to the LHR connection. There’s nothing easier than that… even at KEF.

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