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Whoa. WOW Air Collapses, Cancels All Flights—What Should Ticket Holders Do? | Frommer's By Johnnyw3 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Whoa. WOW Air Collapses, Cancels All Flights—What Should Ticket Holders Do?

Low-cost Icelandic carrier WOW Air abruptly announced that it has ceased operations today. 

All flights have been canceled, according to a "travel alert" on the company's website, and passengers are advised to "check available flights with other airlines."

Which is not very helpful at all for the estimated 10,000 people that this sudden collapse left stranded and no-doubt panicked at airports away from home. 

Those suddenly ticketless travelers have to scramble for "rescue fares"—reduced rates on flights offered by rival airlines. 

The Icelandic Transport Authority is publishing a frequently updated list of verified rescue fares from carriers such as Icelandair, Easyjet, Norwegian, and others. You'll find contact information and instructions for applying for those reduced-price tickets on the transport authority's webpage.

Virgin Atlantic and Aer Lingus have also stepped up with special rates for stranded WOW Air passengers.

As of right now, the defunct airline is not issuing refunds for canceled flights. 

However, if you bought a ticket with a credit card, you should check with the credit card company to see if you can get a refund that way. 

Those who booked through European travel agents or purchased separate travel protection will receive refunds through those channels—though not via the airline, which is offering bupkis at the moment. 

Giving customers next to nothing for their money has always been part of WOW Air's business strategy. The company operated by selling ultra-low base fares for flights from the U.S. to Europe, then nickel-and-dimed flyers with extra fees for everything from selecting their seats to carrying luggage.

That, along with frequent flight delays, led to criticism from passengers as well as industry experts. Then a dip in tourism to Iceland and rising fuel costs cut into profits, in CNBC's estimation

Over the past few months, there was talk of selling the struggling carrier to Icelandair or a private equity firm, but those negotiations fell through.

Now the customers who bought tickets will be left with one last hefty and infuriating charge for nothing.