Her doctor grounded her, but why can the airline keep her money?

By | March 18th, 2016

Cynthia Lane is grounded, but British Airways is flying away with her money.

It can keep the $1,013 she spent on her nonrefundable airline tickets. But should it?

Lane and her daughter were scheduled to fly from Cleveland to Milan on British Airways last July.

“On May 1, I was rushed to the hospital with a broken hip,” she says. “I underwent hip replacement surgery on May 3, followed by inpatient, and then outpatient physical therapy.”

Lane hoped she could still make the Milan trip. But then blood clots started forming in her legs, requiring surgery. A rod was inserted in her leg. (Yes, it’s as bad as it sounds.)

“After everything was completed, my doctor advised me that I would not be able to get on a plane or do any traveling,” says Lane.

It’s bad enough that Lane suffered a series of health setbacks. But British Airways was about to make it worse.

“This was a major disappointment,” she says. “However, it has been an even greater disappointment to find out that British Airways has no compassion for its customers. After all that I have been through, and still going through, I am being forced to forfeit my ticket. I am still not in healthy enough condition to travel, but was told I have to use my ticket by April 24, 2016, or I lose it completely. I have submitted letters from my doctor and pleaded with British Airways to work with me, but have been unsuccessful.”


The published British Airways refund policy is silent on the issue of refunds on nonrefundable tickets for health reasons. I’ve seen the airline offer refunds; I’ve also seen it deny refunds.

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And as a consumer advocate, I have just one question: What’s wrong with these people?

I mean, Lane had every intention of making this flight. Could she have purchased a more expensive refundable ticket? Yes, if she’d shelled out double or triple the original fare. How about travel insurance? Maybe, but what if this had been diagnosed as a pre-existing medical condition? She wouldn’t have been covered.

British Airways, like every other airline, expects passengers like Lane to be understanding if for some reason it can’t operate a flight. If the weather is bad or the plane breaks, the airline just lets itself off the hook.

But if the roles are reversed? Not so much.

I’ve heard from the hard-hearted people who say she should have known better, should have bought a more expensive ticket, should have taken out a travel insurance policy and should therefore give in and let the airline keep her money. They think showing a little compassion will raise your ticket prices, a belief that has no basis in reality and suggests they have no grasp of basic economics.

To those who believe Lane deserves this, I say: What the hell?

Who are you people?

Should British Airways refund Cynthia Lane's tickets?

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