Man sent bailiffs to Luton Airport for Wizz Air refund

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Russell Quirk and two of his daughtersImage source, Russell Quirk
Image caption,
Russell Quirk and two of his three daughters, who were due to go on a family holiday to Portugal

A passenger sent bailiffs to Luton Airport to confront Wizz Air over money owed to him after his family's flights were cancelled at the last minute.

Russell Quirk said he was left with little choice but to find another route to Portugal which cost him £4,500.

After months of waiting for Wizz Air reimbursement, he went to court and ended up sending in the bailiffs.

Wizz Air paid up, apologised and said it "fell short of our own aspirations and our customers' expectations".

The company is one of a number of budget airlines facing county court claims against them, as consumer magazine Which? reported.

The way customers have been treated by Wizz Air has been "shocking, shambolic and shoddy", Mr Quirk, a property expert from Brentwood, in Essex, told the BBC.

He had booked flights from Luton Airport to Faro in January last year for a family holiday with his wife and three daughters in the May half-term.

He awoke early on the morning of their flight to find a message from Wizz Air saying it was cancelled.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The Quirk family had booked to fly to Portugal from Luton with airline Wizz Air

"There was no explanation, no alternative offered and no apology," he said.

"I had to wake my three daughters and tell them we weren't going on holiday - they were very upset."

With hotels, transfers and an airport lounge already paid for, he said the only viable option was to find another carrier, which the family took the following day.

Those flights, together with money lost on a night in hotel rooms and other expenses, cost him £4,500, he said.

On his return he tried to get recompense from Wizz Air, but he said it took almost two months for the cost of his original flights to be returned along with other legal compensation.

But, he said Wizz Air repeatedly ignored his claim for "consequential losses" - the £4,500 extra he had spent.

He took his case to the county court but said Wizz Air "ignored" the judgement made against the company, so bailiffs were sent in to the Wizz Air desk at Luton Airport.

"Their option was to hand over the money or the bailiffs would take it in goods - it might have been chairs, tables, computers or an aircraft," said Mr Quirk.

He joked that he might have liked a plane at home, but the company did pay him his money.

He said taking his case to court cost him about £180 in court fees, plus £60 to send in the bailiffs - although additional costs associated with the bailiff visit would have had to be paid by Wizz Air.

Mr Quirk said: "Increasingly businesses are thinking they can treat customers like dirt and I'm determined to eradicate that.

"My message is, where big companies stonewall you, if you persevere you can get what is owed to you."

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."

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