Wizz Air forced to pay out £1.24mn in refunds after ‘high volumes’ of passenger complaints

Wizz Air forced to pay out £1.24mn in refunds after 'high volumes' of passenger complaints

Wizz Air has been forced to pay out almost £1.25mn in refunds after the UK Civil Aviation Authority raised “serious concerns” over “high volumes” of passenger complaints.

The UK regulator took enforcement action last year when it found that passengers were left frustrated because they believed the budget airline had failed to meet its passenger rights obligations, particularly around providing alternative flights to enable travellers to get to their destinations when their flight had been cancelled.

According to the CAA, passengers also felt Wizz Air was not providing appropriate care when flights were significantly delayed.

After intervention, covering claims made for flights due to depart from or arrive into a UK airport on or after 18 March 2022, the Hungarian carrier co-operated and re-examined more than 25,000 claims, of which 6,000 were refunded to passengers.

Paul Smith, consumer director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, 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.”

The regulator also required that Wizz Air made changes to its policies to ensure that in future it consistently complies with its re-routing and care obligations.

The airline said it has launched a series of new initiatives to reduce cancellations and create a better experience for its customers following intervention by the CAA.

Wizz Air stated that in 2023 it “invested £90mn to improve its performance and operations, resulting in a flight completion rate of 99.24 per cent”, adding that 90 per cent of refunds are now processed within five days.

Following the airline’s review of the claims, the Civil Aviation Authority said it is confident that Wizz Air has now met its passenger rights obligations for these previously considered claims.

Marion Geoffroy, managing director of Wizz Air UK, 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.”

But today’s news comes after ARGS reported in November last year that Wizz Air was one of two low-cost carriers ranked within the top 10 worst brands for consumer anger in a study on Trustpilot reviews.

Matt Zajechowski, who authored the report, told ARGS: “Wizz Air has over 1,400 reviews and an overall rating of 1.3 stars. With Wizz Air, the most common complaints were not receiving adequate compensation or refunds after extended periods of time and having a multitude of hidden fees, including a check-in fee at the airport.

“There were also several instances in which passengers complained of the company delaying flights for five or more hours, but not giving any compensation. Customer service was the single biggest complaint, with passengers even calling the customer service practices ‘diabolical’.”