Hey Qantas, the Balls are in your court

By | March 1st, 2016

Charles Ball and his wife cancel their trip to Fiji after a cancer diagnosis. Are their tickets really nonrefundable?

Question: We purchased tickets for our biannual visit with our missionary son and family in Fiji to leave on Feb. 23. However, similar to the facts in a recent article I read about Richard and Tosya Shore, my wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer just a few days after booking our $3,000 worth of tickets.

She has already had an extensive surgery, and is scheduled to start chemotherapy next Monday. All of this happened in the last two weeks. Her doctors have advised us that we should not attempt travel to a third-world country.

We have been able to get Orbitz to waive their rescheduling fee, but Qantas stands firm on their $200 rescheduling fee for each ticket. We’d like to simply get a full refund because it isn’t possible for us to take this trip in the foreseeable future. Is there any hope of getting a refund? A second choice would be a credit to purchase tickets when we know we can travel. We hopefully anticipate travel in six to eight months. In the case of a credit, is there any chance we might get the change fee waived?

I certainly appreciate your help. A quick reply would be appreciated. We’ve been dealing with medical stuff and have not had much time to react. — C.H. Ball, Long Beach, Miss.

Answer: As in the Shores’ case, you purchased non-refundable tickets from Qantas, whose conditions of carriage say a cancellation of a non-refundable ticket by the passenger is just that: non-refundable.

Related story:   How long should I really expect to wait for an airline ticket refund?

The contract also includes provisions accommodating “events beyond your control,” which allow for refunds or rebooking — to refundable tickets only. So there’s a little wiggle room, which Qantas should have considered when you made your initial request.

By the way, if you ever find yourself in a similar predicament, consider appealing your case to one of the airline’s executives. Here’s a list of the Qantas executives.

If Qantas was willing to consider a refund, it could demand original copies of the doctors’ travel prohibition, which you say you were prepared to send. Our advocates reached out to our contacts at Qantas.

Although under no obligation to do so, the Qantas team agreed to review your case. After careful consideration, and based on the extenuating circumstances, they agreed to refund the ticket price. You received a credit one day prior to the original travel date — and the day your wife began her chemotherapy.

I’m thrilled we were able to help, and wish your wife a speedy recovery.

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