Father-of-four gets refund from Wizz Air after sending bailiffs to Luton Airport
A family whose holiday flights were cancelled at the last minute managed to recover their lost money, as well as expenses, after sending bailiffs to Luton Airport.
Father-of-four Russell Quirk, 55, was left £3,900 out of pocket after he had to buy last-minute flights to Portugal when Wizz Air cancelled his just as he was about to leave home.
He spent more than £2,700 on next-day flights to Portugal - more than four times the original £700 fee - so his family wouldn't miss their summer holiday, meaning he would lose around £6,000 on hotel and other travel costs.
Quirk was reimbursed for his initial ticket price two months after the holiday in May 2022 but demanded the airline pay for the excess costs he had incurred for new flights, a night at a hotel and other expenses - mounting to around £3,900.
He lodged a claim with the county court but said Wizz Airlines ignored his emails and letters and communication from the county court.
As a last resort Quirk applied for bailiffs who visited Wizz Air's desk at Luton Airport - saying they could take goods including chairs, tables, computers or even an aircraft.
The airline finally handed over the £4,500, incorporating the £3,900 charges as well as additional fees.
Russell, who was travelling with his three daughters and wife to Faro in Portugal, said: "I lodged a claim in the county court with Wizz Air as the respondent. They incredibly ignored the court. I didn’t know if they thought it would go away.
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"I thought the only alternative was to send the bailiffs. I filled out a form and paid the fee.
"I gave them the address of Luton Airport and said off you go. They banged on the door and said to pay the £4,500.
"Their option was to hand over the money or the bailiffs would take it in goods, whether that be chairs, tables, computers or an aircraft.
"Wizz Air have paid the money, a fortune in the costs, it’s probably cost them a grand in extra costs."
Quirk, from Shenfield, Essex, said he had booked his flights in January 2022 for the trip to Faro in May that year.
But just three hours before the family were due to leave, he received an email from Wizz Air cancelling the flights.
Rather than miss the holiday and risk losing out on £6,000, he decided to book new flights but the only ones he could find were outbound with British Airways, costing roughly £2,700, and return flights with easyJet.
But when they returned he said a "saga" started in trying to recoup the money.
"I lost a day in Portugal, the hotel which was roughly £1,000, all the cabs to the airport and the lounges. It was £3,900 in total," he said.
But despite chasing the airline and even contacting the managing director through LinkedIn, he was unable to recover his out-of-pocket expenses - prompting him to resort to county court action and then the bailiffs who eventually got his money back for him.
He added: "My message is these big corporate entities that can hide behind being busy, this kind of arrogance and inability to provide customers a service, is just go for it.
"Go through the courts, these companies cannot be allowed to get away with it. The service that Britain is receiving is shoddy and shambolic."
A spokesperson for Wizz Air told the BBC: "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."