Wizz Air forced to pay passengers £1.2m after refund rejections

The Hungarian budget airline cited ‘unprecedented operating challenges’ during the summer of 2022  (Getty)
The Hungarian budget airline cited ‘unprecedented operating challenges’ during the summer of 2022 (Getty)

Wizz Air passengers whose refund claims following flight cancellations were rejected have been paid a total of £1.2m after their applications were reassessed.

Additional payments following flight disruption were made in around 6,000 cases after 25,000 claims were re-examined, according to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The Hungarian airline has also improved the way it handles claims, such as introducing an automated refund process.

These measures follow enforcement action taken by the CAA in July last year after many passengers complained the carrier was failing to meet its legal obligations after flight cancellations.

Airlines which cancel flights are required to cover the cost of replacement flights, enabling a traveller to reach their destination if an airline cancels a flight and cannot provide an alternative in a timely manner.

Wizz Air reviewed all claims it received for money owed to cover the cost of replacement flights, transfers between airports, and assistance such as hotels, for people who booked flights to or from the UK from 19 March 2022.

Customers could also request that claims for flights before that date be reopened, as long as the scheduled travel date was within the previous six years.

CAA consumer director Paul Smith said: “This is good news for passengers and our concerns have been validated by the outcome of our actions.

“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.”

Wizz Air UK managing director Marion Geoffroy 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, based on analysis of Civil CAA data by the PA news agency.

Simon Calder, The Independent’s travel correspondent, said: “An average of £200 for each successful passenger looks like a win, and it is certainly good to see one airline forced to toe the line on European air passengers’ rights rules. But I would like to see more action against other carriers – particularly those who abandon passengers after cancellations, thereby saving money.”