Did you hear about the airline that shut down last week?
Wow Air, an “Icelandic budget carrier,” ceased operations. They canceled all flights, leaving passengers stranded on both sides of the Atlantic, according to news reports.
Say what? You just decide mid-week that it’s time to cut losses and move on when travelers are depending on you? Wow! (Pun intended).
Yes, there is more to it than that, and the CEO of the failed airline said he’s very sorry, but they didn’t get the investment they needed to keep them afloat. Apparently, they had been able to keep their financial woes under wraps as they hoped for an eleventh-hour infusion of cash, as customers continued to book flights with them.
When that didn’t happen, a notice was posted on Wow’s website and passengers were instructed to book new flights. Some “might be eligible for compensation.”
To that I have to say wow, Wow (last one, I promise). That’s harsh. You must have needed that investment in a bad way.
Although this is the first time I’ve heard of an airline just ceasing business with hardly any notice, it seems over the past year I have heard about more and more flight cancellations. Whether it’s for mechanical reasons (which you hardly want to argue with), or whatever else, I am aware of travelers having to scramble to adjust plans at the last minute.
In some cases, they are notified enough in advance that they have time to make changes so the cancellation is not so disruptive, but I know folks who have arrived at the airport, only to be told their previously scheduled flight is not happening.
I have friends who recently spent about ten hours in the Nashville airport having to reschedule overseas travel. A morning departure ended up being an evening one.
My air travel is infrequent. I’ve had delays here and there or missed connections because of weather, but I don’t recall ever having a flight outright canceled.
But with this latest development, I’m getting nervous.
Later in the spring my wife is taking me to Italy and Austria with her to celebrate her retirement. I am already not a happy flier, especially on longer flights, with my mind going all sorts of places regarding what could happen. I certainly can’t sleep, and my main concern is to get out of the sky and on land as soon as possible.
I think we are flying on reputable, mainstream carriers for this trip, so I’m not worried (much) about a Wow situation, but it seems these cancellations are becoming more frequent. If this were to happen to us on this trip, especially on the flight home, there could be some major angst on my part.
After two weeks, I am scheduled to board a plane in Vienna to come back to the U.S. At approximately the same time, my wife is boarding one to go from there to London to meet our younger son. She’ll spend another week with him traveling in England and Ireland.
In other words, she’s putting a strong exclamation point on her working career. I’m coming home to return to work.
I can handle it if we have a delayed or canceled flight stateside while she is with me, but what if my flight from Vienna is canceled, but hers is not? It is not unreasonable to take this to its logical conclusion — that she would board her flight to London and I would never be seen again on this side of the ocean.
Laugh if you will, but she is the one who makes our travel plans and leads us through airports and train stations. I gladly follow her.
I am already concerned enough about flying back without her. I have a tendency to get myself into predicaments when we travel, and she is the one to mitigate the situation and get us back on track.
A few years ago, when we were on our way home from Canada, we were able to go through U.S. Customs in the Toronto airport. We were asked to declare any unpackaged food we might be bringing back into the country. While my spouse was confidently telling a no-nonsense Customs agent that we had none, I whispered to her how that might not be completely true, as there was an apple in my backpack.
While I’m sure she would have loved to ask why, in the name of everything that is holy, I chose to have an apple with me, she did not do so, and kept her composure. She corrected herself to the agent.
An hour later, after our being whisked to the airport office of the Department of Agriculture with a big yellow piece of paper not unlike the Scarlett Letter, and her convincing the equally no-nonsense Agriculture agents to retain the apple rather than having it tested for insects, we barely made our flight home.
So, dear readers, if you are prone to pray, I would ask you to offer one up for that return flight from Vienna. I promise not to have any unpackaged food with me, but you never know what else could happen – like Wow. (Sorry).
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at email@example.com.