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Wizz Air under fire over ‘unacceptable’ complaint levels

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Budget airline Wizz Air is under fire by the aviation watchdog over the sheer number of complaints it has received, and the delay in paying money owed to customers.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it is concerned over the high volumes of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) complaints and the number of County Court Judgments (CCJs) which remain unpaid.

Its quarterly complaints statistics revealed that Wizz Air “clearly ranked as the worst airline for complaints” escalated to either ADR schemes or the regulator’s in-house complaints team in Q3 2022.

Wizz Air notched up 811 complaints per million passengers, compared to Royal Brunei Airlines which had 555 complaints per million passengers. Other airlines had less than half as many complaints as Wizz Air “and many significantly less”, the CAA said.

It is also questioning the time it is taking Wizz Air to process claims received directly from passengers and said this is an “unacceptable way to treat passengers”.

The CAA added “it is imperative for the issues to be tackled urgently”, but noted that Wizz Air “has acknowledged and expressed regret over these problems, and has committed to clearing the backlog of claims and outstanding ADR payments by Christmas”.

It will also work to identify and conclude all outstanding CCJs, with the CAA stating it will continue to monitor its progress.

‘Unacceptable behaviour’

Anna Bowles, head of consumer policy & enforcement at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “Passengers have every right to expect their complaints and claims to be resolved quickly and efficiently and to be treated fairly by airlines. The volume of complaints and claims received by ADR in respect of Wizz Air is far higher than those seen for other airlines. This, alongside the delays in processing and paying claims and the large number of County Court Judgments made against Wizz Air, has raised significant concerns for the CAA.

“We have made it clear to Wizz Air that its behaviour is unacceptable and that we expect overdue complaints and claims to be resolved in advance of Christmas. We understand the payment of County Court Judgments may continue into January, but we are encouraging Wizz Air to ensure that the payment of these is also prioritised. We will continue to monitor the situation. Where we have evidence that an airline is letting passengers down, we won’t hesitate to take further action where required.”

‘We are deeply sorry’

A Wizz Air spokesperson, said the major disruption last year meant it had to deal with an unprecedented number of claims, but it has processed 91%.

They added: “We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience we have caused our customers and we are working hard to put things right and resolve all outstanding claims as quickly as possible.

“We have recently doubled the size of our customer services team and are working continuously to process all outstanding customer claims, Alternative Dispute Resolution claims and settle all County Court Judgments. Customers seeking to settle outstanding County Court Judgments can do so through the chatbot on the Wizz Air website, by selecting the relevant option from the Help & Support menu. Once the required steps have been completed, a customer service agent will be in touch directly to arrange payment.

“We would ask all customers pursuing a claim to check their spam folders for messages from the company, as this has held up settlement being made in a number of cases.

“We are committed to resolving all outstanding claims and resuming our regular processing times as soon as possible.”