Ever heard of Wamos Air (EB)? If you haven’t, it’s a tiny airline headquartered in Madrid, Spain with a fleet that rolls 6 planes deep (two A330-200s and four 747-400s). They don’t cover too many destinations, so I’d be more surprised to hear of someone who has flown them vs those who haven’t. Interested in flying them?
Well now you can. (If that’s your thing?)
Norwegian Air (DY), which runs a JFK-LGW route on a Boeing 787-9, has recently swapped their 3 year old Dreamliner out for a 19 year old Wamos Air-operated A330. The reason for the change? Damage to the 787’s fuselage, according to a Norwegian spokesperson.
Wamos has been running the route since March 31, and was supposed to continue doing so until April 24. According to Norwegian Air’s Twitter, their Dreamliner will be back in operation on April 28, though initial reports had set the date to April 24, so we’ll believe it when we see it.
About the change, a Norwegian spokesperson had this to say:
“While we appreciate this change may not meet our customers’ expectations, we will do everything possible to ensure our customers are satisfied. Norwegian will give passengers who no longer want to travel the chance to rebook or receive a full refund free of charge.”
Our guest writer and globetrotter Cristina recently had the (dis)pleasure of flying Wamos Air on her recent JFK-LGW flight (and back!) and experienced the downgrade first-hand.
- There wasn’t any communication about the plane swap issued beforehand
- There was a ‘limited entertainment system” on my outbound flight, which meant TVs that fold down every couple of rows like it’s the early 90s. To be honest I was so turned off by that I didn’t even look at the line up. On the way back I was once again incorrectly assured there would be a ‘limited entertainment’ availability and there was in fact zero entertainment available .
- There were two meal services, one hot, one cold, but during the first meal service there were only meat options available which I thought was rather odd. Now in all fairness I didn’t request specific dietary restriction meal ahead of time but I feel like most major carriers always have a vegetarian dish available.
But here’s the kicker – Cristina received no communication about the change in aircraft before either flight.
Norwegian Air Wamos Air was not without its merits of course:
- The flight attendants were very nice and accommodating – after I asked for a vegetarian option during the first meal service and told there wasn’t any, for the second service I woke up to a veg meal having been placed down for me without me asking or even knowing.
- It was cheap! Over Easter this was the cheapest option, even when compared to other mainstream carriers with layovers, this came out cheaper by at least $500, non stop! I should also mention I booked this very last-minute, within a week of flying and it cost me $700.
In Cristina's case, there wasn't much she could do - she wasn't aware of the change in aircraft until she got to the airport. But if you find yourself in a situation where you find out about the change early, there are a few things you can do:
- Call the Airline - Due to a change in aircraft (especially an inferior one, where you'd be getting less than what you were initially expecting), most airlines would be willing to move you to a different flight, departing the same day as your original flight. This would work only if you have the flexibility in your schedule to accommodate the change. This type of move could also work to your advantage if you have a connection to catch in your original itinerary - you could potentially be placed on a nonstop flight instead. While a fee may be associated with the change, it may be well worth it. If you have elite status, the fee may be waived all together.
- Ask for Options at the Gate - Depending on your airline's contract of carriage, the phone agent may be unable to move you to another flight, but there may be more flexibility once you're at the airport. Flight logistics are always in flux - the flight may have been oversold and now it's in the airline's best interest to move you to another flight (possibly free of charge!).
- Ask for a Refund - This is of course a drastic measure, but if the change in aircraft causes too drastic of a change, most airlines should be willing to offer you a full refund - if this is something that you're looking for.
Sometimes it doesn't work out and all you can do is suck it up and get on the flight. You can always get in touch with the airline after the fact - via email, phone, twitter, or snail mail. If you have a frequent flyer account with them, most will offer what we'll call "courtesy points" - basically an apology for the mishap. Others may offer you a voucher for use on a later flight. Try to be concise, specific, and factual about the details of your flight, and the most important thing - be polite. You might be furious, but remember, these customer service representatives are human beings too, and they had little to do with the incident that took place.
A change in equipment usually means a downgrade in flight experience. While it might be out of your control, what you do next is what really counts.
Have you ever experiences a change in aircraft (or airline?!). What did you do in your situation? Drop us a note in the comments!
Featured image credit: Norwegian Air