Southwest Airlines responds to needy passenger with compassion – why won’t US Airways?

Can you be right -- and wrong? / Photo by Tipek US Airways - Flickr
When you’re in my line of work, you hear your share of sob stories. Few are as tragic as Charley Price’s, and few have as frustrating an outcome.

His story starts with the death of his wife’s father last summer, only two months after Price’s mother-in-law had passed away.

“We were initially led to believe from family that a delay in scheduling a family funeral for both parents was going to happen at a later date, but with less than two weeks notice we were informed that the funeral service was being scheduled for both parents on July 14.”

Because of scheduling difficulties, Price and his wife had to book two sets of one-way tickets from Minneapolis to El Paso, Texas: one on Southwest Airlines, the other on US Airways.

“Unfortunately, my wife became severely ill the evening before we were to travel which required hospitalization and we were forced to cancel our air travel plans and miss the funeral service.”

I can’t imagine the grief of losing two parents, followed by the hardship of a severe illness.

You would expect an airline to be sympathetic to the Prices, particularly if they could show a death certificate and a doctor’s note.

Price explains what happened next:

I immediately called US Airways to cancel our scheduled trip and explained what happened.

The agent dutifully cancelled our travel plans, and was quick to state we had one year to use the tickets from date of issue, plus any additional airfare and a minimum $150 per person reissue fee.

I explained the unforeseen medical emergency and asked that the reissue fee be waived.

I was informed that US Airways does not allow refunds for non-refundable tickets and would enforce the reissue fee. The combined reissue fee of $150 per person ($300 total for my wife and I) nearly matched our original one-way airfare of $440.

It was quite the contrast with Southwest.

When I called Southwest to cancel and stated what happened, the person on the phone could not have been more gracious and expressed concern for my wife.

The agent stated that I had one year from date of issue to use our non-refundable tickets and any additional airfare.

Expecting the worst, I asked if there were any additional fees and was told no. To make sure I specifically asked if there was a reissue fee and again I was told no.

OK, we could get into a debate about US Airways and Southwest and fees, but I think there are two noteworthy takeaways here.

First, the US Airways representative could have expressed some sympathy for Price, which costs nothing.

Second, both US Airways and Southwest should have had a notation in Price’s reservation that he was flying on a bereavement fare. Combined with his other personal circumstances, it wouldn’t be unusual for them to offer a full refund.

(Passengers cut airlines a break when circumstances “beyond their control” force them to cancel a flight. If ever there was a time for a little quid pro quo, this would be it, don’t you think?)

Price appealed to a supervisor and then put his request in writing. Unfortunately, it came back with the same response.

Dear Mr. Price:

Though I understand your situation, I must adhere to established policies which do not allow for refunds of non-refundable tickets, even due to medical circumstances.

You have one year from the date of issue to complete travel.

I thought Price’s case was worth a second look. After all, he wasn’t flying to El Paso on vacation, and he missed the flight because of circumstances beyond his control.

US Airways didn’t respond to my request.

No question about it, US Airways did what it had to, contractually speaking. It isn’t required to do any more. But was this an appropriate response to a passenger in need?

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • sirwired

    Southwest wasn’t being “compassionate”… their airfares are sold with no change fees, and that’s exactly what they gave her.

    Southwest stuck to their contract, and US Airways to theirs.

    And I’m not sure either ticket was a “bereavement fare”, as those are largely gone…

  • Jeremy

    Southwest doesn’t have bereavement fares.  I think Tony or one of the other travel agents will chime in, but it’s been said here before that the bereavement fares that are available for legacy airlines are discounted versions of full-fare economy.  Thus they are often still more expensive than discount economy except perhaps in extreme cases were no discount economy fares are available.

    It isn’t clear to me if the $440 one-way airfare is per-person or not.  If it’s the total airfare (which he implies it is by comparing it to the total $300 of the two reissuance fees), meaning $220 per person one-way, that’s a reasonable deal for the route in question.  US Airways is following their contract for discount fares, and it has to be acknowledged by travelers that these fares come with penalties.  The legacy airlines have made clear one of their selling points is not “compassion” – I’m just sorry it took this guy so long to learn this.

  • Michelle C

    The airline did do “enough.”  It sucks and no traveler is disputing the airlines have completely one sided contracts, however that is the policy for every airline I can think of except for Southwest. Maybe this guy should only fly Southwest since it seems to suit his needs the most.   It would be nice if US scare did wave the fee-   and maybe the guy could appeal to someone at a higher level than a supervisor. 

    BTW if anyone knows of another US based airline that doesn’t have a change fee please let me know.    

    Most of us, non elite business/rich passengers, complain about the policies but we keep buying tickets and paying baggage fees.

  • JohnRStrohm

    For some reason, Southwest Airlines has always gone above and beyond the minimum requirement.


    Some years back, my mother had to take a long trip, on Southwest. She is somewhat mobility-impaired (although not in a chair). Southwest treated her wonderfully, made sure she got everywhere easily, took care of everything. Dad wrote them a very nice “Thank You” note. A reply came back, thanking Dad for the nice words. Dad thought it was from some PR guy, and didn’t think anything of it, until I saw the letter, noticed the signature, and explained to him just who Herb Kelleher was. (I suppose it is possible that this was a semi-standard reply letter, but I doubt it. Herb Kelleher had a very unmistakeable style, which was easily recognizable by Dallas-area residents, and the letter had that indefinable “something” that felt like pure Herb.)

    Delta used to have customer service that good. They used to give the impression that they had an unofficial internal policy that no Delta employee would ever get into trouble for going the extra mile for a customer. Unfortunately, that was a long time ago.

  • emanon256

    Here is Chris’s article about un-compassionate Southwest and their refusal to offer a bereavement fare and how they are taking advantage of a costumer who needs to get to a funeral:

  • emanon256

    “Passengers cut airlines a break when circumstances “beyond their control” force them to cancel a flight.”
    I beg to differ, often Chris’s stories contain people are demanding a full refund plus extra because they missed a flight or had a flight canceled for a circumstance beyond the airlines control, like weather.
    Also, was the OP really on a bereavement fare on US Airways?  Or was he on the cheapest available ticket?  I thought bereavement fares were generally refundable tickets, but were very close in price to full fare, so if the OP bought the cheapest non-refundable ticket with a change fee, than it’s not refundable and has a change fee.  Southwest states vary plainly that their tickets are refundable; US Airways states very plainly that the discount tickets are non-refundable with a change fee.  I could not find any clause in US Airways that states that a non-refundable ticket would be refunded if a passenger is hospitalized. It simply re-states the message you get when you buy a ticket.
    I keep wondering why one passenger expects to be treated differently than another passenger because they are special.  Stories here keep repeating this theme, I am more special than anyone else the rules should be broken for me.  I should pay less than anyone else because I am not (1. Going on vacation, 2. A Business Traveler, 3. Fill in the blank).  If the airlines are willing to barter than go for it, but if they publish policies and follow them than there is nothing you can do about it.
    I do have sympathy for the OP, it’s a horrible situation to be in, but if he bought a non-refundable ticket, than he got what he paid for.  If I were the airline and had to power to do so, I would give him a 100% refund in his situation, I really am a nice person.  But if the airline chooses to follow their published policy, I can’t fault them for it.

  • Raven_Altosk

    SWA does not have change fees, USAir does. That’s basically what this one comes down to when you strip away the emotion from the case.

    SWA also has LOCAL (mostly in DFW area) customer service agents. USAir likely outsources their call centers to India. While they can train people there to speak with American accents and read from a script, few understand what they are saying and probably didn’t realize this was a sensitive situation. Not that I’m excusing the curtness of the USAir agent…just showing the different business models of the two companies.

    I have to say, when I’ve flown SWA where I have zero status I’ve always been pleased. They went above and beyond for me and 11 other pax once. I few HOU-BWI-PVD and we were delayed 3 hours in HOU due to thunderstorms. They actually held the last flight of the day in BWI to PVD for us (about 40 minutes after scheduled departure time). While on the HOU-BWI segment, the FA kept telling us what was going on with connections and when we landed there were actually agents waiting to assist.

    By contrast, I’ve had USAir strand an entire plane of late arriving pax in CLT with not a single gate agent around the entire empty concourse at 1am.

    Unfortunately, SWA doesn’t always fly where I need to go and the company (aka ‘the mothership’) doesn’t have a corporate contract with them…

    Bottom line on this case, unfortunately for the OP, he booked on two different airlines with two different rules. 

  • john4868

    Have to agree with you @Raven_Altosk:disqus . Basically both airlines complied with their CoC. LUV didn’t show any additional love or compassion. They just complied with the ticket rules.

    You purchased two non-refundable tickets and stuff happened. Last time I looked at a US Air ticket, I had to decline an insurance policy that would have covered this situation.

  • backprop

    Exactly, and for the same reason, passengers don’t “cut airlines a break when circumstances ‘beyond their control’ force them to cancel a flight.”  Those are the terms of the ticket!

  • Alan Gore

    It’s time to put an end to this scam. If non-refundability saves airlines money, then why not always allow such tickets to be transferable? If a plans-changing passenger could resell to anyone else who could properly identify himself to the TSA, the airline is relieved of having to worry about why passengers might have to change their plans.

    And since WN never adopted the $250 change fee scam, the free market shows us that absorbing the $10 or so it actually costs to process a change of passenger on a reservation brings in more business. Passengers overwhelmingly flock to WN whenever it is available on a route, while the legacy carriers have to “survive” by filing Chapter 11 and getting another bailout every year.

  • jpmcdonough

    USAirways needs to conserve cash to acquire American.

  • emanon256

    The airlines have not received any bailout money since the 2001 terrorist attacks.  And the bailout only covered the cost of the mandatory groundings. Plus the legacy carriers still seem to fly at nearly full capacity, so I don’t think everyone is flocking to WN.

  • JohnT

    As a travel agent for many years, I was faced with many such situations. Unfortunately people would take advantage of the medical excuse by having me refund and attach a “doctor’s letter” which may or may not have been real. The airlines went along with this, but I am sure too many folks abused this. They changed their rules, and nonrefundable meant just that. I feel for the fellow, but the airlines followed their rules, and he was surely advised of them prior to the purchase. No one thinks they will need travel insurance, especially purchasing so close to the travel date, but it pays off in many situations. 

  • Chris B

     USAirways will be quick to tell you that an airline ticket is not a
    contract, and they love to hide behind their policies.  I’ve been
    fighting with them for 5 weeks to have miles redeposited when they downgraded me and a companion to coach after we used miles for First Class because it was oversold.

  • MarkKelling

    Southwest tickets are NOT generally refundable (unless you buy their business level tickets).  However, if you do not make your original flight for any reason even if you have checked in, the total amount you paid for that flight can be applied to any other flight you book with them for up to a year.  This is very different from most airlines where if you don’t cancel your plans in advance you lose the total you paid for the ticket.

  • Cassondra Monique

    The comments here say so much more than the story. It says that human compassion is an antiquated ideal and that money matters more than people. I don’t believe in people taking advantage but if he could produce proof of his situation then both airlines should have been willing to refund him, or at least allow his travel later without a charge. This isn’t about a “contract”, particularly one that few people read and even fewer understand, it is about respect, compassion, and giving to your fellow man.    The reason things stay the way they are is because we allow them, and even encourage them, to stay that way.

  • MarkKelling

    Non refundable mean nonrefundable.  
    Southwest simply has a more flexible approach to nonrefundability as well as their mantra of no fees.  Neither airline did anything that was not spelled out in their ticketing rules.  

    Also, I doubt this was sold as a bereavement fare as Southwest does not have them and most airlines that do still have them sell them as refundable. So noting in the record that the reason for flying was bereavement would have no impact on the other conditions.
    It is never good when illness changes your travel plans, and I hope that Mrs. Price has fully recovered, but people have to understand that when you buy something like an airline ticket and it states it is non refundable, you either have to buy insurance to cover unexpected happenings like illness, or you have to be willing to lose what you paid.

  • emanon256

    Good to know, I was looking at this list at refundable points and fees, but its not actually refundable, which is indicated above.  When I click on Refundable Points and Fees is says, “If you cancel your flight, 100% of your ticket value can be applied to future travel for up to 12 months.”

  • Bill Armstrong

    The situation is tragic.  However, the airlines sell tickets with various restrictions and base their price upon that.  There is also travel insurance for those cases where something does happen.  If you look at the millions who die each year, and the millions and millions of flyers associated with funerals, changes, etc, that can add up to a huge number.  To expect the airlines to make changes based upon incidents such as this – they might as well sell fully refundable changeable tickets only.

    I’m not trying to sound heartless here.  To an individual, a death is a huge, traumatic event.  Statistically speaking, it happens a lot.

    A good friend of mine lost his wife to cancer a year and a half ago.  There were no direct flights to get to the funeral.  I had to pay $2800 to get my wife and I to the funeral, and fly a circuitous route. 

    I am sorry for their situation, but you can’t expect the airlines and their shareholders to take the hit for these things.   Buy travel insurance.  Get a credit card which offers travel insurance. 

  • emanon256

    But if you look back, consumers asked for things to be the way they are now. They asked for compassion to go away so they could save a buck.
    Tickets used to be very expensive, and also refundable.  But consumers complained about the high costs, and demanded cheaper tickets and said they would be okay with restrictions to get the cheaper tickets.  In response, heavy discount tickets were created, but restrictions and change fees were added to support these cheap tickets.  When I first started flying there were no change fees and tickets were transferable and a simple call would result in a refund.  But consumers wanted to pay less, and the only way this would work was for discount tickets with restrictions.  Now consumers buy the cheap tickets, and complain about the restrictions. 
    It’s just like baggage fees, so many people complained that they wanted cheaper tickets if they didn’t check their bags, the airlines made this happen, and now consumers complain about having to pay to check a bag.

  • IGoEverywhere

    EVERYBODY has a legitimate reason to cancel their flight. The rules are the rules and everybody, yes everybody needs to live by those rules. It was not the funeral that caused the cancellation, it was an illness, that nobody expected to happen. That’s why travel insurance is available and cheap. Compassion has no berring on this case. I wave my fee when there is a personal disaster, but when the disaster happens, not weeks later.

  • Faboo Frank

    When I saw this “headline”, my first thought was, this is a rhetorical question, right?  I mean, really.  USAir has no compassion.  Period.  I fly out of PHL, so I most often use them.  And am abused by them.  They suck.  But that’s life.

  • Chasmosaur

    It sucks, but it’s not surprising.  

    My parents had booked tickets to visit my brother – in CT – and myself – in WI – on two different flights.  United for the CT trip, NW (pre-Delta merger) for the WI trip.

    Less than a week later, my mother was diagnosed with Advanced Stage IV colon cancer.  Travel was obviously out.  My Dad first called United to cancel the flight explaining the situation, and they gave him the whole “$150 per ticket and you have a year to re-use the tickets” spiel.  He pointed out that it was highly unlikely my mother would ever fly again, and wondered if he could just get a complete refund, at least on one ticket.  Nope.  He just left the conversation, deciding to try again later with a different rep.

    He then called NW, explained the situation, and the rep on the end didn’t even wait to tell my Dad how sorry she was and immediately guessed he wanted the tickets cancelled. She did that, refunded the complete cost, and waived the change fee.  She then gave my Dad her extension (or employee number) so that if I needed to get a flight out right away, she would personally get me the best possible flight and fare.  (We think she probably lost someone to cancer, too.)  But her actions made a huge difference at a very bad time – my Dad will still try to avoid United now whenever possible, since he thought they were pretty illogical and thoughtless.

    I ended up driving, but we really appreciated the gesture of the NW agent.  And my father called United back and shamed them into canceling the tickets completely, telling them how incredibly nice NW had been.

    You can say it’s all about policy, but our angel of a NW agent pointed out that my Dad was cancelling tickets less than a week old and two months out – it wasn’t like they weren’t going to be able to put another person in those seats.  I don’t know if that’s the same here, but I think good customer service and basic kindness and decency goes a long way to earning customer loyalty.

  • len

    Southwest’s policy of allowing passengers to reschedule flights with no cancellation fee is well known, as is their “bags fly free” policy.  What is, or should be, equally well known are the draconian policies of the legacy airlines. 

    US Airways should consider changing its name to TS Airways.  “It’s tough!”

  • Michael__K

    Last time I looked at a US Air ticket, I had to decline an insurance policy that would have covered this situation.


    If someone takes that as advice, then they are very likely to get burned.  If Ms. Price had any medical symptoms or doctor’s visits in the previous 6 months, then any insurance claim would get rejected on pre-existing condition grounds.  (Note that the tickets were purchased inside of 14 days from travel).  We’ve seen that ugly scenario before numerous times on this blog.

  • Fred Munroe

    US Airways does not offer “bereavement fare”.  With airlines that do (or did) offer bereavement fares, they were changeable but usually priced higher than the lowest available fare.  They were a discount off of OTHER changeable or “last minute” booking fares.

    If you ask airlines why they no longer give people breaks for medical or “family emergency” reasons; the answer you get is very clear and unfortunately believable: “People lie to us all the time to get a refund.  People can get their family doctor to lie on their behalf…all the time.”

    I am a travel agent.  I have witnessed my clients lie to airlines, cruise lines and tour operators.  They have lied, because I refused to lie for them.

  • john4868


  • TonyA_says

    The way I understood the story:

    Charley Price and his wife originally bought Southwest [cheaper, Wanna Get Away]  one-way tickets from MSP to ELP. However, they learned they had to get to El Paso sooner, so  they bought an earlier departure (less than 2 weeks) ticket on USAir. They subsequently cancelled BOTH tickets since Charlie’s wife became ill and needed hospitalization.

    My Conclusion:

    IMO (if my understanding of the story is correct), Charley made a mistake. Instead of buying a new non-refundable, USAir ticket, he should have simply UPGRADED his current non-refundable SWA ticket. Southwest ANYTIME fares for MSP-ELP starts at $524, but there could be cheaper Wanna Get Away fares for one week advanced purchase (see link to jpg below). He probably searched fares on the net and saw a cheaper USAir ticket (e.g. $440). So he thought he could save a little money and return his SWA tickets. He made the wrong decision. Sorry.

    FYI, a USAir walk-up fare can be bought for $325.60. I don’t understand why they just did not buy a ticket the same day they wanted to fly.


    TICKET     BASE USD                TX/FEE USD       TKT TTL USD
     ADT01       282.79                     42.81            325.60
    *TTL         282.79                     42.81            325.60
       9.00XF MSP4.5PHX4.5

  • Michael__K

    Lots of unfortunate comments pushing travel insurance as the answer.  Insurance would most likely have been useless in this case (as we’ve seen time and again with insurance claims cases).

    We know the flights were purchased inside of 14-days.  We don’t know why Mrs. Price was hospitalized.  Unless it was for some unexpected external trauma introduced to her body after the ticket purchase (like getting food poisoning or getting hit by a bus) then an insurer could almost certainly reject the claim on the grounds that the seeds of her medical condition must have been present when she purchased her tickets.

  • Michael__K

     so many people complained that they wanted cheaper tickets if they didn’t check their bags

    1) Did fares drop when baggage fees were added?  I believe the answer in most cases was “no.”

    2) You really think baggage fees are popular?  I guarantee you that any consumer poll will show they are not.

    The real reasons for baggage fees are:

    a) the carriers can generate more revenue when the costs are more opaque and harder for the consumer to compare across airlines.


    b) the carriers can reduce their marginal fuel costs because some customers will respond by leaving their luggage at home.

  • frostysnowman

    Wow, I’m a little shocked at how cold USAir was in this situation. Yes, they are in the business to make money and yes, they have the right to enforce their COC down to the letter.  But I dealt with a similar situation just two months ago. 

    My father was suddenly very ill and I booked a flight on Delta to NJ to see him.  But his health declined so rapidly that I had to move it up just a couple of days later.  I explained the situation and although they charged a fare difference, they waived the change fee. 

    Dad died a few hours after I arrived and Delta not only let me change the return flight twice (due to the funeral schedule) without fees, they helped my spouse and kids get very decent last-minute airfares to NJ and allowed them to change their return flight once without extra fees.  I was shocked, because Delta is not usually so understanding and I think their customer service usually sucks.  I really think the OP should have received the same understanding from US Air.

  • Steve_in_WI

     @sirwired:twitter: You’re absolutely right that Southwest didn’t do anything out of the ordinary here; that said, I think it’s worth highlighting that they are (as far as I know) the *only* US carrier to have a policy that allows people to reuse funds from nonrefundable tickets without punitive change fees that often make the cost of reusing the ticket almost equal to a new one.

    IMHO, they’re the only US airline that has a reasonable policy regarding nonrefundable tickets. (I was disappointed when they made the change a year or two ago that funds could only be applied to the same passenger when their previous policy was even more generous, but they’re still the best out there).

  • emanon256

    1)      The answer is yes, ask your travel agent.
    2)      I never said they were popular, but they were asked for by people who didn’t check their bags and wanted to pay less.

  • TonyA_says

    The $440 must have been for 2 pax (IMO).

    I priced a 7-day ADV fare today for $202.60 each.
    Fare Code TXA7NL6 on USAir.

    I think he couldn’t find the same cheap fare in SWA so he bought the lower fare from USAir.

    What he did not realize, was USAir would charge $150 change fee per ticket while SWA charged $0.

    The whole compassion play is masking the real problem – operator error. I’m sorry for what happened to Charley but, today, everyone needs to smarten up. There is no such thing as compassionate fares, anymore.

  • TonyA_says

     Sad state of affairs, indeed.

  • TonyA_says

    Also remember that tickets bought at WN airport counters may be PAPER tickets. They have a different set of rules.

  • sirwired

     Well, if not for the baggage fees, pretty much every single airline that charges them would be hemorrhaging money.  That leads us to one of two conclusions:

    A) If they weren’t there, airfares would be higher to pick up the slack.
    B) If they weren’t there, the airlines would be all falling into bankruptcy, leaving the remaining players to… raise airfares.

    The baggage fees are absolutely NOT popular, but time and time again, consumers have shown they are more than willing to sacrifice service in order to save a few bucks on airfare. 

    Wallets speak much louder than surveys.

  • SooZeeQ

    US Airways has a major sick up their you-know-where. 
    Southwest has a business plan that works and I use them 5 times a year, 
    If I could afford full fare, I would, and be able to get a full refund. I try to get the lowest fare, and if I have to cancel for any reason, the funds are banked to my account for future travel. 
    If I change for any reason and the fare is higher, I pay the difference. 
    No penalties. Lots of common sense.  No wonder their flights are always full.

  • TonyA_says

    Dear Chris Elliott,

    I wonder if you and your followers can collaborate and write the Definitive Guide to Emergency [Bereavement] Air Travel.

    As a travel agent, I can say that this is one of the most gut-wrenching booking to make. You and your passenger(s) are under tremendous pressure to find the earliest arriving flight to the destination and hope that it is still affordable. To top it all, your passenger is usually not in the right frame of mind to make a good decision.

    I book mostly international travel for my clients and since the flight options are much less than US Domestic travel, my task is even more complex. From my experience, after working with one grieving client (especially a friend), I just have to take the rest of the day off.

    Maybe we can all work on a [simple or simpler] methodology to follow since no one wants to be thinking up these things during a death of a loved one. I think I have read several complaints in this site about bereavement fares (or the lack thereof), that it is about time we understand that they do not exist and it is better to plan accordingly.

    Thank you.

  • LeRoy Trusty

    Right on Raven, yes, these are down home Texans for the most part.  Sweet tea and BBQ.  That is why I like flying SouthWest and working with them.  

  • Michael__K

    Just a nitpick, but I would also include:

    C) If they weren’t there, the non-legacy “baggage- friendly” carriers (JetBlue, SW) may have made greater inroads in market-share.

    D) If they weren’t there, the legacy carriers may have been even more aggressive in reducing costs and taken an even harder line in labor negotiations (which admittedly could have indirect but real negative consequences for passengers too) .

    Of course A, B, C, & D are not mutually exclusive.

    Addded: I was remiss for not including:

    E) If they weren’t there, a carrier might have gotten desperate enough to try to earn pricing power by delivering clearly superior service.

    You could argue that (E) wouldn’t work, but it’s not clear anyone has seriously tried it.

  • Michael__K

    1) Evidence?

    Data says otherwise:

    Even the carriers’ own press releases when they raised baggage fees generally made no mention of offsetting fare decreases (while they did refer to the need to increase revenue because of fuel costs)

    Anyway, you haven’t refuted my (a) and (b).

  • TonyA_says

    Aye Aye. Travel insurance does not make a non-refundable fare, refundable. In the case of this USAir fare, the only “real” loss is the $150 change fee, if you cancel. So really you are only insuring for that amount. You might as well keep your insurance money and buy a REFUNDABLE ticket or a walk-up fare.

  • bc

    How is an unforeseen illness any airline’s fault? Why should they bend the rules? Seriously, if they bend the rules for this person, how many sob stories do you think they’ll get in a week? It’s the same reason they did away with bereavement fares, PEOPLE LIE. I’m not saying the OP lied but they bought a ticket with rules, LIVE WITH IT. 


  • SooZeeQ

    BUT….what travel insurance is the BEST one to buy?

    This is a major gripe of mine as it appears from reading this site for a long time, I have seen ONE success story in regards to a claim.

  • emanon256

    Your second link shows a 10% drop or $36 in the average ticket price when the majority of airline carriers implemented baggage fees.  Seeing as baggage fees were ~$35 back then, it confirms my statement.  Thank you.  I believe many others have posted this same statistic here before, including specific pricing rules at the time which I do not have access to as I am not a travel agent.
    When carriers raised baggage fees after the unbundling they didn’t need to offset the ticket price.  They were already separate by that point.  It was only when the initially unbundled them that they dropped the ticket price.
    I am not refuting your A and B as they are merely your opinion to which you are entitled.  I too have my opinion; I feel the real reason for baggage fees are because Airlines pay a lower income tax rate on up-charges than on ticket prices. 

  • patb

    $150.00 dollars for a couple of seconds of keystrokes ? Insanity rules with some airlines. I am thinking of using SW as often as I can vs US air and AA .

  • judyserienagy

    3 weeks ago I had to cancel an international tix because of a back problem.  When I called, the agent told me that they only waive the rebooking/cancellation fee if you die, not if you can’t fly because of a medical issue.  I wasn’t sure whether I should laugh or cry.

      It was my choice to originally purchase the least expensive tix with the most restrictions; I could have purchased a non-restricted tix.  What is it that people don’t understand about the restrictions on the cheapest tix? 

  • $16635417

    I recently came across my airline ticket receipt from a flight I took in 1991. It was a bereavement fare purchased after the death of my father. The fare was $500.

    That route today is over $1000 for a last minute published fare ticket. However, Delta  offers a bereavement fare in their system in some routes: 
    A quick call to them and I was told a fare of approximately $550 in 2012 dollars for the same city pair.

    The bereavement fares are still out there on some carriers and certainly, in my case, a better bargain than it was 21 years ago when comparing 1991 dollars to 2012 dollars.

  • flutiefan

     they haven’t been paper tickets for a few years now.

  • patb

    I understand about Peak Oil but the greediness and total lack of compassion by some airlines is something that people should take into account when deciding on an airline to travel by.

  • TonyA_says

    I remember this case

    I understand SW Vacations still issued paper tickets since a couple of months ago.

    I am glad to hear your news. So now all money can go back to ticketless funds. Nice.

  • Alia Naffouj

     I think USAirways may have waived the fee if he had been re-booking at the same time.  I know when I had a similar situation with US Airways, they did not charge me the change fee only the fare difference.  My son was in the hospital and they asked for the hospital info and his doctor and that was it, fee waived. At the time I was canceling I was booking the same trip for a month later so that may be why they waived it as it was being used immediately. All I can say is I was very thankful for the waived fee otherwise it would have cost quiet a lot more with the fare difference.

  • flutiefan

     ah, yes, Roomie says some Vacations package tickets are still paper, because they’re processed by a contracted vendor. but they are converting to etickets for everything eventually.
    (Roomie says: “They can put a man on the moon, but they can’t make the Vacation packages ticketless?!”)

  • TonyA_says


  • Lindabator

    Agreed.  I know people always want the airlines to bend the rules, but they do not HAVE to.  Since they booked nonrefundable fares, and the actual reason for the cancel was NOT the death in the family, but the ILLNESS, and the airlines does NOT accept medical reasons for cancellation, they were within their rights to say no.  Unfortunate, but the client chose the fare, he has to abide by the terms and conditions, regretable as they may be.  It would be the same story for anyone else.

  • TonyA_says

     What year did this happen?

  • Lindabator


  • Lindabator

    Actually, Southwest now does not allow you to transfer your ticket to another passenger, either.  Too much FRAUD involved with that!

  • Lindabator

    And the SHEER NUMBER of BS medical notes we used to get at the airline (a Doctor travelling with 9 other surgeons to a surgical convention actually felt we should accept HIS note and refund his return), caused this problem.  So now, the nonrefundability of a ticket is fairly strictly followed.  Unfortunately, with good reason.

  • Lindabator

    Don’t bother – he never lets little things like “facts” get in the way of making his point.

  • Lindabator

    And if they weren’t there, the low-cost carriers would have to pick up the costs of the podunk airports, turning their pricing structure into that of the legacy carriers.  Its their ability to cherry-pick the profitable routes ONLy that keeps them so lucrative.

  • Lindabator

    It is based on the clients’ needs – if you want to waive pre-existing conditions, make sure you buy the insurance with the waiver in the time frame necessary.  And I have had MANY successful claims with TravelEx and Travel Guard policies. 

  • Lindabator

    But, once again, they do not HAVE TO.  And Chris wasting his time going around with USAir once again makes no sense in this case.  USAir is following the rules – the client just doesn’t like it.  But he chose a nonrefundable, and he chose the penalties that go along with it.  Sad, but no different than anyone else in the same situation.

  • Lindabator

    But then the subsequent changes were due to the death, which gave you a lot more latitude with the airlines, as they could ensure that case if need be.

  • TonyA_says

    Actually, if we read this case closely, bereavement fare was irrelevant. What is relevant is CANCELLATION WITHOUT PENALTY if the pax becomes ill and hospitalized.

    Oops, Linda beat me to it. Sorry for repeating the message.

  • Lindabator

    That is an excellent point. 

  • Lindabator

    But just because someone WANTS something, doesn’t mean they are ENTITLED to it.  And following your rules makes it fair for everyone travelling, because believe me, everyone has a valid reason in their own mind for cancelling – and then pitch a fit because they chose a nonrefundable fare to save money, and now want to be able to refund it.  Can’t win!

  • Lindabator

    Its not greed to expect that when you offer a choice between fully refundable with no restrictions, and nonrefundable WITH restrictions, that you offer them to anyone who wishes to follow the rules – and then THEY FOLLOW THEM!  I find the greed with those who DO book the least expensive, with the most restrictions, and then expect those restrictions waived when THEY WANT THEM TO BE.

  • TonyA_says

    Linda, when I was still working in the industry (long time ago), I recall they said if cost anywhere from $25-40 for each SIMPLE customer service call.

    Considering that bereavement or personal emergency travel would necessitate multiple calls and examination of the VALIDITY of presented documents (or lies); I expect the transaction cost of this kind of requests to be more than the $150 change fee.

    IF my guess is correct, then who shall pay the burden for this? Should other passengers subsidize grieving passengers? The airlines will simply pass on these costs somewhere.

  • Lindabator

    Agreed – but then I’m not saying the client SHOULD get his money back on this??????  I worked for the airlines not Too long ago, and remember how costly it was, and how many BS stories we heard all the time!

  • TonyA_says

    Me, too. I don’t think the passenger should get his/her money back. If they want REFUNDABLE they should buy refundable fares. Otherwise, some other customers will end up subsidizing them.

  • TonyA_says

    What city pair?
    Let’s compare the walk-ups and see how compassionate that Delta fare is.
    Is the $550 Round Trip including tax?

  • TonyA_says

    A few keystrokes? How about validating the medical certificates (and the like)? Who’s gonna do that for free?

    Even if there is no waiver for emergencies, the $150 is a change fee since someone needs to do it MANUALLY.

    If you want to do it cheaper, then do it the SWA way. No questions asked. Just cancel and rebook.

  • TonyA_says

    @emanon256:disqus  @Raven_Altosk:disqus
    I wish to pass this by you and see if it would work.

    Let’s assume the OP was holding USAir non-refundable tkts. If he simply cancelled before the departure date his tkt was worth $$$ minus the $150 change fee. (In other words, it devalued by $150).

    I believe there is a way NOT to lose the $150. USAir has this exemption to the $150  change fee if you upgrade:

      //C-/D-/Z-/J-/F-/Y-UP-/YUP-// WILL NOT BE ASSESSED    

    So it the OP simply walked to the USAir counter and said he changed his flight plans and wants a one-way Y fare from MSP-ORD let’s say 01NOV, he will get this for $307.80. Note he can actually book as far as 331 days but the ticket is $337.50.

    TICKET     BASE USD                TX/FEE USD       TKT TTL USD
     ADT01       276.28                     31.52            307.80
    *TTL         276.28                     31.52            307.80

    ADT MSP US CHI276.28USD276.28END US ZPMSP XT2.50AY4.50XF

    The additional collection would be $307.80 minus what he paid for his old tickets $220, or $87.80.

    So for less than ninety bucks, he is holding Y (changeable without fee) tickets. Sometime in the future, when his wife is ok, he can change his Y fare ticket to any ticket he really wants on USAir. He would not lose a cent to book his future roundtrip ticket.

    What do you think?

  • random_observation_source

    I agree w/ you that this comes down to ticket policy, spelled out on the respective airlines tickets and websites.  However, I don’t think the location of the call center had anything to do with the OPs failure to illicit sympathy w/ US Airways.  People in India die too, and they don’t like loved ones dying any more than we do, so I think they appreciate how sensitive someone in mourning is as well as any average American.

  • random_observation_source

    (removed… this was supposed to be a reply to another post)

  • random_observation_source

    There’s a massive set of logistics behind every single flight and that costs a lot of money.  Don’t think of the $150 as how much someone got paid to press a couple of buttons – think of it as the amount the airline had to pay to arrange the aircraft to be in place to get you where you want to go, and a disincentive to interrupt an often complicated and expensive plan.
    Airlines are by no means shining examples of good will and customer service – but they owe it to their shareholders to _sometimes_ make a buck or two.

  • Michael__K

    Ignoring every data point except for the one that is convenient is not the way to engage in good faith discussion.  

    The data demonstrates that inflation-adjusted airfares, absent baggage fees, are higher today (by more than 10%) than they were just before baggage fees were first introduced.  Despite the fact that the price of oil has fallen slightly over the same timeframe!  (Recall that first-bag fees were initially introduced in the spring of 2008 in response to an oil price spike).

    If you think that only the 2008-09 fare comparison is relevant (and that this had nothing to do with the Great Recession or oil prices), but that 2007-08, 2009-10, and 2010-11 fare comparisons are irrelevant, then there’s nothing to discuss.

    You do make a good point about the tax-free status of baggage fee revenue.  We as citizens and taxpayers are subsidizing and helping to create this monster through questionable policy decisions.

    And of course, it’s simply a fact that lighter planes use less fuel, which reduces the carriers’ costs.  I guess you’re entitled to believe that this somehow has no bearing on the decision to charge baggage fees.  I beg to differ based on common sense.

  • TonyA_says

    What you say makes a lot of sense. If the policy of the airline is to say “NO” to all requests for compassion, then it is certainly cheaper to do that from a foreign call center (not just India).

    I pity these offshore/outsourced workers because they can’t “win”. They are a lightning rod for all highly emotional customer service issues and they do not have any right to go on strike against the company.

    That said, I am amazed how SWA has managed to keep its 6 call centers in the USA – Albuquerque, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio. SWA crew (both flight and cabin) are also unionized. So why can SWA keep on delivering value to its customers better than other US carriers can? It must be doing something right.

  • Michael__K

    If you are referring to EAS, our government subsidizes that.

    What forces a carrier to participate if it doesn’t want to?  As I understand it, carriers are welcome to withdraw with sufficient advance notice.

  • emanon256

    That’s a really good question and I can’t tell you the actual answer, but I can tell you more about YUP.  The Y-Up is a special Y fare basis, usually with a code like YUP6 or YUAUP1 that will book directly into and first class or business seat.  There are typically used as buy-up incentives to get customers to buy up to First for less than an actual First ticket, though they will waive the change fee if you simply buy up to full price first too.  An example of the YUP is the where the customer pays $201 for an M fare on that route (MSP-ORD), where the YUP is $708, they will offer the customer the ability to buy-up to First Class for the difference of $507.  They do this by offering an instant upgrade as a re-fare for $507 and they waive the change fee.  The new total $708 is still less than the F price of $1,047.  And even lower than full Y which is $838.  A YUP is generally still considered a restricted coach ticket, and carry’s the same rules as the originally purchased ticket.  They do mention “ANY NONREFUNDABLE AMOUNT REMAINS NONREFUNDABLE.”  So I am not sure what would happen if they YUPed and then tried to change it.  I believe, though I am not certain, it would carry the same restrictions as the original ticket, but the fare difference would be refundable.  I also don’t think they would allow them to change the date while they applied the YUP, I believe it would have to be the same date and O/D to qualify.
    What is confusing me are the YAOKYs showing on that route.  They are really low for Y.  It could be a highly competitive route with mostly regional jets, or it could be a negotiated fare.  Many airlines have special negotiated government and corporate rates that have no restrictions, so they always book into Y, and cost a lot less than Y would cost the general public.  However the inventory must be booked through the corporate or government contract only.

  • emanon256

    I didn’t ignore every data point; I looked at the data point before the un-bundling and the data point after the un-bundling and compared those two as that is when the change occurred.   The amount of change at that point in time is also a clear outlier in comparison to the other changes over time.  It’s also interesting that the change is almost exactly equal to the new checked bag fee charge, when they deducted the cost of the bag fees from the fare.
    Saying that airfare is 10% higher today than before the baggage fees is a red herring as the base fares have been typically going up each year, even when oil goes down.  What I am saying is that when they un-bundled, they lowered the cost of the tickets by the price of the checked bags, the fact that the price of tickets has changed since is irrelevant.  The tickets would have changed over time had they not unbundled, so they cannot be compared in that way.

  • TonyA_says

    Rereading the rules, the upgrade they are referring to is a fare that must be upgradeable to ENVOY/FIRST Class. So the minimum is Y-UP and not just any Y class fare. So the YUAUP3  $757 is the cheapest Y-UP fare. If the OP was thinking of going to Europe anytime soon, this might have worked.

    The non-refundable amount (~$220) will still be noted as non-refundable. But the Y-UP ticket itself can be exchanged  (in the future) for another ticket without a fee. It would not be refundable for the whole amount but that’s not the goal. The goal is to prevent losing (or paying) the $150 change fee and keeping future travel options open.

  • Michael__K

    Are you interested in discussing any facts or just in personal attacks?

  • TonyA_says

     Michael, I think it is fair to conclude that BASE fares would have gone up more if airlines couldn’t or didn’t charge ancillary fees. How else could they have hidden the extra cost (to us)? Bogus taxes?

  • Michael__K

    Data point before unbundling was 2007. Unbundling already happened in 2008 (and has increased in every year since).

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Unfortunately, honesty also seems to have become an antiquated ideal, which directly led to policies such as those enforced by US Airways. For what it’s worth, I do feel sorry for Mr. Price. 

  • Michael__K

    That’s certainly possible (essentially sirwired’s scenario (A) above).

    He also proposed scenario (B) and I added (C), (D), and (E).  Perhaps there are other scenarios we missed.  

  • Raven_Altosk

    My point wasn’t that they are incapable of showing sympathy, but that the scripts they read from do not allow for it.

    Many of those folks are also paid by the number of calls they field, so the faster they get you off the phone, the better for them.

  • TonyA_says

    I suppose as companies or organizations become bigger, they lose their ability to be feel like a “person”. Providing compassion or empathy requires feelings (or a soul). For a company, it means the CEO/COO and the board must proactively institute policies that the rank and file are empowered to execute. For employees to act genuinely compassionate, they must first be treated with the same compassion by the company. If jobs keep on being outsourced, then that’s not happening anytime soon. If you want to know how you will be treated by an airline, look first at how the airline is treating its own employees. What happened to the OP does not surprise me at all.

  • emanon256

    There was no unbundling in 2007, so I can’t compare that.  As it happened in 2008, the best I can do with that data is 2008-2009.  Unless you can provide daily transactional data for all of 2008, then I can do a comparison based on the actual day in which it changed.

  • emanon256

    I like your idea.  What if they did a Y-up to $757 and changed it later for another domestic ticket and get a credit for the remainder?  Would they get them out of the fee and get them 2 future tickets? 

  • Michael__K

    @emanon256:disqus   – Baggage fees were introduced in May, 2008.  It was widely reported at the time (including on this blog) that fares were not being lowered at the same time.  It was also widely reported that these fees were a response to record oil prices ($132/barrel, eventually rising to $145 in July).  

    By late December, oil prices had suddenly collapsed to below $40/barrel.  Oil prices stayed low and never rose beyond $80 in 2009.  You are welcome to delude yourself into believing that this (and the peak of the recession) had no impact on airfares.

    If you really believe that unbundling causes lowers fares, then you would expect fares to be lower in 2008 than they were in 2007 (they weren’t).  You would also expect fares to have continued to go down in 2010 and 2011 as unbundling increased and baggage fees increased (they didn’t).

    I’m referring throughout to inflation-adjusted fares.  If you believe, as you stated, that “fares have been typically going up each year, even when oil goes down” then you need to explain 1995 – 2007.  Because in that 12 year period, the opposite was predominantly true (the only year-to-year exceptions coincide with the tech bubble and with the oil shocks in 2006 and 2008)

  • Michael__K

    see new thread

  • TonyA_says

    Only the $220 of the $757 is non-refundable. The rest is refundable. So, theoretically, if they buy domestic tickets in the future (by exchanging their Y-UP ticket), the $220 can be use up first. Of course, the SWA upgrade would have been a better (cheaper) decision if they planned to travel in the future.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Couldn’t agree with this more. People who feel they are a valued part of an organization have a sense of pride in what they are doing. They want the company to be seen in the best light possible because it’s an extension of themselves. But when they’re treated as necessary evils that are around only until the next outsourcing finds a way to make them expendable, they won’t care if you think the company stinks…because they think the company stinks, too.

  • TonyA_says

    Hey Michael, your economic analysis may be 100% correct and your opinions respected; but can we all please go back to the main discussion. There must be a lot of people like Charlie Price who need help. Maybe if we can think together, we can make some suggestions that similarly situated people can use. Peace.

    What should (could) Charlie Price have done differently so as not to lose money?

  • Michael__K

    I agree about the importance of the main discussion.  Sadly there seems to be a widespread sentiment in these comments (including the assertions about baggage fees that I was responding to) that passengers asked for the status quo and have no one but themselves to blame for it. (The implication being that Charlie Price doesn’t deserve to have any better options).

  • $16635417

    BOS-GFK. I was told “about” $554 RT because they did not price an exact itinerary…but would be happy to check flights for me. I declined saying I was expecting someone to pass away and just needed to budget.

    The fare required I leave within 3 days of booking and could change the return at no charge. 

    I saw fares online of over $1000 for a flight leaving tomorrow and returning after the weekend, I believe Monday was the date I put in.

  • Chasmosaur

    No, I concur – they don’t have to.  And as my late mother said once “Everyone’s got a dying mother at Christmas when there are flight delays.” (Long story short – stuck in Xmas delays, a couple we were talking to during the day knew we were at the top of the wait list for the first flight out to our mutual destination the next day.  The airline called our name at the end of boarding, the couple rushed to the counter, made a fuss, the counter agent told us to sit down and the loud couple boarded.  When they shut the door we asked WTF?  And they said that there had been a death in the family.  We’d chatted with them – there wasn’t.)

    But again – good customer service and basic kindness and decency goes a long way to earning customer loyalty.

  • TonyA_says

    Very nice of Delta to do this. They essentially gave you their lowest round-trip fare (plus the standard telephone fee) BUT they made it NO ADVANCE booking and WAIVED the change fee for the return date.

    The “open” (actually changeable) return date is one of the best features of a compassion fare. It’s amazing Delta even gave you their lowest fare. For comparison, the lowest one-way, No ADV Purchase costs (M class) $650 before tax.

    We can add Delta to our good guys list. Thanks.

  • TonyA_says

    Most people miscalculate the importance of a NO (or low) Change Fee.

    Here is one surprising observation – some US carriers have a lower ($100) change fee to International (S.E. Asian) destinations compared to Domestic cities. I guess they have to because their Asian competitors only charge $100 or give the first change for free. Most of Cathay Pacific’s fares now allow for OPEN RETURNS. Haven’t seen fares that flexible for quite a long time.

    I think it’s time consumers learn to pick fares for other features more than just price. Unfortunately, it’s real hard to see or understand the salient features if the only thing they see is price.

  • $16635417

    No need for a compassion fare on the horizon, just wanted to compare fares from 21 years ago. Amazing how it has only risen by about $50…plus a checked bag fee as well.

  • SoBeSparky

    This is absurd.  You buy a ticket according to known rules.  Stick to the rules. Airlines are in difficult enough financial problems without just throwing our rules and fees and let everyone (and everyone will claim similar circumstances, true or not) fly without cancellations penalties.

  • TonyA_says

    Now if only my kids’ college tuition remained the same it was 21 years ago, I will be the first to proclaim that colleges are compassionate.

    Your record keeping is simply amazing. Man, 21 years!

    Kidding aside, I have to eat some crow and admit that Delta has “compassion”. At least they removed almost all the restrictions from their lowest fare. I think that was what the OP was expecting.

    You know what, in the end, this is about good ole American Values that we were taught by our folks or grandparents. Some US carriers just don’t get it.

  • TonyA_says

    Yes it is absurd. People expect other carriers to act like Southwest  – no change fees, no no-show penalties, etc. Wouldn’t it be simpler if these folks just buy Southwest tickets instead of complaining about other airlines?

  • Michael__K

    Wholeheartedly agree with the last sentence.  Wish I had a good solution. 

    It’s both a user interface issue and a consumer education issue. 

    I suppose if one could set up preferences in response to questions designed to gauge how much value they place on various features, then maybe a flight-search engine can take those into account.

  • jim6555

    My mother, who lived in Boston, died suddenly a few years ago, I live in Tampa and purchased round trip tickets for myself and family to fly to Boston on Jet Blue. After the funeral, my sister asked if we could stay over the weekend. I explained that our tickets could not be changed without incurring a penalty. I decided to call Jet Blue to see what could be done. The agent who answered the call was sympathetic to our situation. She expressed condolences for the loss of my mother and, after checking with a supervisor, was able to put us on a Sunday afternoon flight with no penalty and no charge for the fare difference. I’ve never forgotten this kindness and try to use Jet Blue for all my flights to Boston or New York from Tampa (those are the only two domestic destinations that they serve from here).

  • Michael__K

    United’s policy states:

    Refunds (minus a $50 USD processing fee) will be provided in the event of death and, in some cases, illness and jury duty. This applies to all tickets, including revenue, MileagePlus award tickets, promotional, bulk and net

    USAirways doesn’t even have any provision in their contract as far as I can tell for a refund in the event of a passenger’s death.

  • Michael__K

    Who’s gonna do that for free?

    How much would it cost if they outsourced that to India or the Philippines also? :)

  • Michael__K

    Actually, many other airlines do have certain refund policy exceptions even for nonrefundable tickets.

    US Airways is a pioneering outcast in that regard.  As best I can tell, they do not even have an exception in the case of a passenger’s death. 

    You can choose to support this policy (use whatever euphemism you want if you don’t like the word “greed”) or you can follow patb’s suggestion and take this into account when deciding your travel plans (and hopefully encourage US Airway’s rivals not to copy them).

  • Daves

    “It’s time to put an end to this scam.”

    I realize some people feel strongly about things like these. OTOH, let’s at least put words in their “generally defined” context lest we might get needlessly carried away.

    I may not like US Airways’ ticket rules here. However, they hardly qualify as a scam as long as they’re clearly stated. (and they have been for the most part…)

    Whether someone can afford to do something is solely up to them to decide, despite what others think or feel about it.

  • Daves

    “I don’t believe in people taking advantage”

    Sigh, if only that were realistically true. Ask or check around.

    I’m sure some (if not many) of us want to be compassionate. We just choose when, where, who, why and how, more so if we can truly afford to.

  • Daves


  • Daves

    “good customer service and basic kindness and decency goes a long way to earning customer loyalty.”

    Absolutely. Like maybe anything, though, that can also create an issue. It tends to raise expectations higher, to the point of the unrealistic or arguably unaffordable.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

     Fair to other travelers?  No offense, but other travelers should not be a factor in my relationship with the airlines.  That’s between me and the airline.  What I negotiate with the airline has nothing to do with other travelers.  Its why I get two free bags on American and others don’t. It why I can upgrade, and others don’t.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

     I agree.  That’s why I fly American.  I had a nonrefundable ticket and I got very Ill on my first European trip.  I was hospitalized in Paris. Per policy, they allowed me to return to the US after the hospitalization and waived the change fee.  I approve of their policies and choose them for that reason.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

     I beg to differ.  One of the factors in choosing an airline or any business is how rigid are they in enforcing the rules.  Since I recently realized that I hadn’t obtained perfection or omniscience, I prefer to work with those businesses that will cut me some slack on occasion. In return, I spend my very hard earned dollars at their establishment.

  • Lindabator

    OMG!!!   Once again – a good reason WHY the airlines don’t take those excuses as reasons – after all, the only thing they’d manage to do is alienate a “real” customer such as yourselves while they cater to liars and whiners.  OUCH!

  • Michael__K

    Alas, it appears that American dropped it’s illness exception as of December 8, 2010 (copying the lead of US Airways).

    But they do still retain exceptions for when a passenger or immediate family member passes away, unlike US Airways.

  • Sonya

    And with that said, my personal policies prevent me from doing business with companies with dumabss policies.  Thanks for the heads up.

  • Bob M

    How much is enough? I do sympathize with the problem, but where do you draw the line? Also trying to compare what US will do vs what WN will do is like trying to compare a good guy with a bad guy, they just don’t fit. I don’t have a problem with an airline charging a fee to refund or change tickets, its the cost of the fee itself. It does not cost $150.00 or more to do it. Obviously it dosen’t cost WN anything to put the account in a bank for a year and if it does it is minimal, the high fee charged by the legacy’s is just and always has been a money grab, they do it because they can.

  • Michelle C

    I didn’t go to the link but I interpret that to mean if the passenger becomes ill, dies, or requires jury duty they will be entitled to a refund minus $50.   I guess if the passenger dies the refund goes to the estate.  I do not interpret that to mean if a family member dies the passenger is entitled to a refund.

  • Gary Kung

    The argument will never be ended.

    Legally, both airlines are correct. Ethnically, US Airways should do more.

    But for real – should an airline stick to their own terms in protecting themselves? Yes.

    When there is a system, there will be a possibility to abuse. It is absolutely fine for US Airways not to do anything in this case.

    But as a passenger, you also have the choice not to fly with US Airways. You can cast your vote with your money to Southwest.

    However – I still don’t understand why 2 separate airlines.

  • Michael__K

    I didn’t go to the link

    Why not?  FYI, it contradicts your interpretation.