After his family’s flights were cancelled at the last minute, a passenger sent bailiffs to Luton Airport to confront Wizz Air about money owed to him.
Russell Quirk said he had no choice but to find another way to Portugal, which cost him £4,500.
He went to court after months of waiting for Wizz Air reimbursement and was served with bailiffs.
Wizz Air paid up, apologised and said it “fell short of our own aspirations and our customers’ expectations”.
According to consumer magazine Which?, the company is one of several budget airlines facing county court claims.
Wizz Air’s treatment of customers has been “shocking, shambolic, and shoddy,” according to Mr Quirk, a property expert from Brentwood, Essex.
He had booked flights from Luton Airport to Faro in January of last year for a May half-term family vacation with his wife and three daughters.
He awoke early on the morning of their flight to discover that it had been canceled by Wizz Air.
“There was no explanation, alternative, or apology,” he said.
“I had to wake up my three daughters and inform them that we were not going on vacation; they were very upset.”
He said that with hotels, transfers, and an airport lounge already paid for, the only viable option was to find another carrier, which the family did the next day.
He claimed that the flights, along with a night in a hotel room and other expenses, cost him £4,500.
When he returned, he tried to get compensation from Wizz Air, but it took nearly two months for the cost of his original flights, as well as other legal compensation, to be returned.
However, he claimed that Wizz Air repeatedly ignored his claim for “consequential losses” – the £4,500 extra he paid.
He took his case to the county court, but Wizz Air “ignored” the judgement, so bailiffs were sent to the Wizz Air desk at Luton Airport.
“Their choice was to hand over the money or have the bailiffs take it in goods, which could have been chairs, tables, computers, or an aircraft,” Mr Quirk explained.
Woman takes on BA on her own and wins the family’s disbelief after flights are cancelled twice.
Passengers in limbo after Wizz Air cancels flights to Cardiff
He joked that he would have preferred a plane at home, but the company did pay him.
He claimed that taking his case to court cost him around £180 in court fees, plus £60 to send in the bailiffs – though any additional costs associated with the bailiff visit would have been borne by Wizz Air.
“Increasingly, businesses believe they can treat customers like dirt,” Mr Quirk said, adding that he is determined to change that.
“My message is that even if big corporations block you, if you persevere, you can get what is owed to you.”
“In the summer of 2022, due to unprecedented levels of disruption across Europe and the UK that affected the entire industry, we fell short of our own aspirations and our customers’ expectations,” a Wizz Air spokesperson said.
“When things went wrong, we did not react quickly enough to manage the high volume of customer claims that resulted from this disruption. We apologize for this and are working hard to improve our customers’ Wizz experience this year.
“Wizz has paid all CCJs [county court judgments] where it received the judgment since December, and is continuing to work to settle all other outstanding claims as soon as possible.”