A dad of three has said he was left with “no other option” than to send bailiffs to Luton Airport after his attempts to get compensation for cancelled flights went ignored.
After months of attempting to get a refund from budget airline Wizz Air for thousands of pounds spent rearranging his family holiday to Portugal, Russell Quirk took his case to court. Even then they failed to pay up – resulting in bailiffs being sent to the airport.
Mr Quirk had spent months attempting to get compensation after shelling out £4,500 for a different carrier, hotels, and other expenses when the airline cancelled his flights at the last minute.
Wizz Air has now apologised for the mistake and paid Mr Quirk, stating it “fell short of our own aspirations and our customers’ expectations”.
Mr Quirk, who works in PR, had booked a May half-term break last year, planning to fly from London to Faro with his wife and three daughters. On the morning of the flight, he received a message from Wizz Air letting him know that the flight had been cancelled without explanation or an apology.
He said it took almost two months for Wizz Air to refund the cost of his original flights, but that the additional costs for rearranging his travel plans were not addressed, even after being requested in county court.
“I didn’t set out to take any extreme measures – no one was threatened or cajoled. I was just determined to get my money back after weeks of being blanked by Wizz Air,” Mr Quirk told i.
“I’d been trying to reach them without success, including messaging the MD on LinkedIn without getting a response. After failing on their legal duty to respond within a legitimate time frame, a judgment was made against the company in county court by default.”
With the company ignoring the judgments, bailiffs were sent to the Wizz Air desk at Luton Airport. Under the threat of seizure of the airline’s property, his money was eventually handed over.
Other customers who have been left short of pocket have gotten in touch with Mr Quirk to share their frustrations of poor customer service with major airlines.
“People have reached out to me on social media to tell me they’ve had similar experiences with other airlines but that they gave up after repeatedly being ignored,” he said.
“I would say that a lot of companies make the process of getting compensation purposefully complicated. I would encourage customers who have lost money not to give up, and to get in touch with a claims court to find out how they can get what is owed to them.”
The dispute cost him £180 in court fees, plus £60 for the bailiffs’ visit.
2022 saw an exceptionally high number of flight cancellations and delays, with post-Covid disruption and staff shortages both playing a part.
A spokesperson for Wizz Air said: “In the summer of 2022, due to unprecedented levels of disruption across Europe and the UK which affected the entire industry, we fell short of our own aspirations and our customers’ expectations.
“When things went wrong, we did not react quickly enough to manage the high volume of customer claims that resulted from this disruption. We are sorry about this and we are working to ensure that our customers’ experience with Wizz is better this year.
“Since December, Wizz has paid all CCJs [county court judgements] where it received the judgment, and is continuing to work to settle all other outstanding claims as quickly as possible.”