I can’t walk, so how can I fly?

Kneschke/Shutterstock

Catherine Brubaker won’t be able to fly from Wichita, Kan., to Fort Myers, Fla., after breaking her ankle. Her ticket is nonrefundable and the airline wants to charge a change fee and fare differential to use the ticket next year. Isn’t there a better way?

Question: I need your help with a ticket on Delta Air Lines from Wichita, Kan., to Fort Myers, Fla., that I won’t be able to use. A few months ago, I fell and broke my ankle in two places. I’m still under my orthopedic doctor’s care. I have a doctor’s note that I can’t travel until further notice.

I’m also a polio victim and I’m confined to a wheelchair. In the house, I’m just now starting to use a walker and a safety belt, and with the aid of someone, I’m taking very small steps. I’m very weak. It will take me a lot longer to gain back my strength than the average person because of the polio.

I called Delta to see if we could postpone our flight until next year, hoping that by then I could walk on my own. They told me it would cost us another $180 each to change the tickets. I’m 79 and my husband is 81 and we can’t afford another $360. Can you help me? — Catherine Brubaker, Port Charlotte, Fla.

Answer: I’m sorry to hear about your fall, and wish you a speedy recovery. Unfortunately, the tickets you booked on Delta are discounted and highly restrictive. They’re nonrefundable and changes would incur a fee plus any fare differential. These rules sometimes mean that the tickets are completely unusable.

What about travel insurance? The kind of policy sold through an airline website probably wouldn’t cover a situation like yours. The insurance may be even more restrictive than the tickets they protect, and your claim would probably have been denied because your polio was a pre-existing condition.

A “cancel for any reason” policy might have helped, but you don’t get a full refund under many of those policies, just a percentage of your trip or a voucher for a new trip.

Let me be absolutely clear about this: You had no rights, under the terms of your purchase, to a full refund or for Delta to waive your change fee. But it can’t hurt to ask.

At this point, some of you, dear readers, are probably saying to yourself: “Oh no, you didn’t.”

I know you think rules are rules, and you think I have no business asking an airline to bend its refund policies for anyone, even a 79-year-old polio victim in a wheelchair.

I disagree. I think that’s exactly what I should be doing. Airlines routinely waive their own rules when it suits them. I can’t think of a better time to ask one to do the same thing for a needy customer.

I sent your case to Delta and asked it to review your request. I added that they were well within their rights to deny your request.

Delta offered you a full refund.

Should Delta have refunded Catherine Brubaker's ticket?

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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 chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on our help forum.

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  • polexia_rogue

    at least this OP was not a total b–ch like the last OP who asked for a refund on 4 tickets.

  • Bill___A

    I hope Mrs. Brubaker and her husband are able to take the trip next year and have a good recovery.
    I think a thank you is in order to Chris for contacting Delta and to Delta for showing compassion.
    Well Done.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Good job. Kudos.

  • FQTVLR

    I think DL did the appropriate thing in this instance.

  • BillCCC

    Any comment that hints they should not have been refunded will be construed as heartless so good job. But…if ever a situation called for travel insurance, 79 years old, polio, wheelchair….

  • backprop

    It’s been a while since we’ve seen a full house in the Elliott Deck of Misfortune!

    BTW, I’m not heartless. I think Delta did a nice thing. But as BillCCC pointed out – with two pair already showing (79 and 81, polio victim, can’t afford $360, etc.)…it is a perfect time for the right travel insurance if the nonrefundable ticket costs can’t be eaten.

  • TonyA_says

    Yet another sad story. What’s next, I can’t imagine?

  • John Baker

    Especially if you already have a chronic debilitating disease…

  • omgstfualready

    Can we have a ‘top this’ story? I may win. Everyone suffers from something. Some of us choose to not use it as an excuse and in fact use it to may better long term decisions.

  • sirwired

    Hmm… All I have to say is: this was awful nice of Delta. This case was certainly approached with the right attitude; when you want an exception to some pretty clear rules, it helps to be nice and acknowledge that you are indeed asking for an exception. If I was in Delta’s place, I would have also granted at least a change fee waiver for this case (and anybody that hangs out here regularly should realize I don’t say such things often.)

    It’s true that trip insurance isn’t really a viable option here; most policies are far more comprehensive than is necessary for a simple domestic trip (as in, the medical and medevac parts of the policy aren’t really needed), and the price for somebody of their age would be pretty darn high. (1st-party policies (which aren’t age-priced) don’t have a pre-ex waiver) They really need a 3rd-party cancellation-only policy with a pre-ex waiver available, and I’m not sure such a policy exists.

  • Lindabator

    I never have a problem with someone asking – if they are nice about it, and do not feel entitled. Under these circumstances, I would always hope the airlines bend the rules. (But the LAST one ——)

  • Lindabator

    Agree with ALL said – but this is when the airlines can truly show compassion, rather than feel pressured by just another entitled passenger (like the other day)

  • sirwired

    Everybody that regularly reads this website knows I’m a big fan of trip insurance, but I’m not sure it would have made sense here…

    1st-party policies don’t have a pre-ex waiver in return for prompt policy purchase; that means the polio would likely exclude any claim.
    3rd-party policies have a couple things wrong: They are usually far more comprehensive than necessary for a domestic trip, driving up the cost. Also, 3rd-party policies are age-priced; an age-priced super-comprehensive policy would be way out of any price range that would make sense.

    I think rolling the uninsured dice and being REALLY nice to Delta when asking for an exception was the right thing to do.

  • Buckettripper

    Not only should they have refunded the money, but people need to keep making requests like these — and these are appropriate cases for advocates such as you to take — until these ridiculous limitations are softened. The contract between airlines and passengers is a bullying one-sided one where they basically can cancel for almost any reason (and I have seen airlines lie about the weather — on several occasions having such lies confirmed by an obviously annoyed pilot making sarcastic comments when apologizing for a “weather” delay). Yet they hold passengers responsible, even when adequate notice to resell a seat is given. I KNOW people will take try to advantage even if the rules are more reasonable, but that doesn’t mean the rules shouldn’t be fair to start with.

  • TonyA_says

    My question is why Delta did not give in the first time she asked?
    Why did she have to use an ombudsman?
    Why is it so difficult to show or have compassion until they (DL) perceived public pressure coming around the bend?
    Therefore, I say it ain’t real compassion.

  • omgstfualready

    The limitations are not ridiculous. There are tickets without them.

  • sirwired

    Well, if an airline cancels any flight for any reason at any time (or if it’s delayed or re-scheduled for a couple hours or more), you are entitled to a full cash refund on request.

  • John Baker

    @sirwired … I disagree with you. Trip insurance is a good purchase anytime you can’t afford to lose what’s at risk or you have a high likelihood of something occurring. Based on her narrative, both are true in this case.

  • pauletteb

    Good for you, Chris. Some folks simply have no heart . . . and I have a feeling that at least some of the naysayers would be first in line requesting your assistance if they suffered a similar mishap.

  • emanon256

    The only reason we have such low cost tickets is because of the restrictions. If they gave a refund any time they can resell the seat, the price would be much higher than it is today, and just as many people woudl be complaining.

  • SoBeSparky

    Next up is an Iraq US Army retired veteran, amputated limb, in need of medical attention but put on a VA Hospital wait-list. Deeply discounted nonrefundable air tickets were bought to an alternative health care center, but the night before the flight a local VA appointment became available. Vet wants a cash refund on non-refundable ticket for service to country.

    Can you imagine that, torn right from today’s headlines?

  • sirwired

    The cheapest policy I found that included a pre-ex waiver is TravelGuard “Savvy Traveler”. A quote for a 79 and 81 year old living in Kansas with tickets costing between $250 and $500 will run $140 for the both of them.

    $140 to protect against a $360 risk makes no financial sense; while they are elderly and frail, they aren’t THAT frail.

  • emanon256

    I am frustrated with Delta for not offering to waive the change fee, I though they did waive it if the passenger was medically unable to travel. And while I am not mad at the OP for getting a refund, I think Delta did the compassionate thing and I would have done so if I were Delta, it still worries me that more and more people will now expect non-refundable tickets to suddenly become refundable because of reason X, Y, or Z. Its the restrictions and non-refundability that keep the cost low. The airlines do plenty of terrible things, and have plenty of un-fair restrictions in their contract. Offering much cheaper tickets with restrictions is not one of those things. I would gladly take the low cost tickets with restrictions than have that option go away and have to pay a lot more for tickets. I think the people who complain that tickets should be refunded if the airline can re-sell the seat are completely missing the pricing model and would be in for a shock if they got their way when ticket prices skyrocketed.

  • emanon256

    You forgot the bit about the fixed income.

  • TonyA_says

    Here’s one … illegal aliens crossing the the border wants personal refunds for deportee return ticket back to Latin American country. Says the seats are too narrow and close together and does not serve the food they are used to.

  • John Baker

    @sirwired … I’m not disagreeing with you on the financial calculation. Probably not a purchase I would make but … You either self-insure or you insure. By her own statement, she couldn’t afford to self-insure. In that case, she needed to insure.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    There are alternatives besides refunds

  • TonyA_says

    Most domestic fares and COCs no longer have the medical emergency (exemption) clause. Hence you will see more and more requests to Elliott like this.

  • emanon256

    That’s quite annoying. I know AA and US took it away, I thoguth Delta still had it. I am a supporter of waiving the change fee if the person has documentation that they are medically unable to fly. But if they get rid of it, that’s their prerogative. The passenger does assume the risk when buying a non-refundable restricted ticket.

  • TonyA_says

    I assume she also asked Delta nicely the first time around. But they rejected her.
    So she asked Elliott nicely :-)
    The solution to this problem is to require airlines to place a medical exception policy.
    Of course we know why they removed that.

  • TonyA_says

    Pax needs to die …

    Deceased Passengers
    Notwithstanding the general rule, in the event of death of the passenger prior to the date of travel, tickets issued at nonrefundable fares will be refunded to the deceased passengers’ estate.

  • TonyA_says

    I would like to propose a different option. Perhaps people with her situation should hold off buying tickets too early since something might happen before date of departure.

    If you cannot fly Southwest or Jetblue which allows cancellation and rebanking of funds, then you really need to minimize the risk of cancelling your tickets.

    Since travel insurance is quite prohibitive for 80+ folks, then why not book 7d or 14d prior. Maybe since it is closer to the date of travel, things are a lot more certain.

    For this route, One-way fares are 458/256/194/187 for 1D/7D/14D/21D, respectively on Delta.
    Looks like 7D and 14D are the sweet spots.

  • Jennifer Moore

    So, how do you buy a less restricted fare? Some airlines will have a few categories to choose from, but many don’t. And most of the time, we’re buying from Expedia or Travelocity, not from the airline directly. Travel insurance is a good idea, and it is almost always cheaper than the next fare category (and it is always cheaper than the change fees). But, honestly, I wish the airlines would simply relax their rules, charge us $20 more and let us get on with our lives.

  • Buckettripper

    At what cost?

  • John Baker

    That would work for me too… decreases your potential exposure and mitigates risk

  • John Baker

    Same cost they would be if the restricted tickets where unrestricted. Restricted tickets are cheap because the airline plans on a certain percentage of no shows. Those no shows, and the tickets the airlines sell to replace them, fund your cheap ticket.

  • ShrimpBoy

    What the hell does polio victim have to do with the story? Did she contract it after she bought the ticket?

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Reading the stories prompted me to read the benefits for my CC (to show I’m not plugging the card, won’t mention it here). Basically, the airline branded cards with a fee often have such policies built in including getting a change of clothes if your bag is delayed, a free hotel and meal if you’re stuck more than 12 hours due to a delay, etc.

    But… that doesn’t apply to extreme hardship cases like the above. It sounded like something out of Dickens. It’s nice when an airline is understanding and helps out.

  • emanon256

    I ran an analysis using the average cost of a domestic restricted ticket from Fight Aware Insight, using the number of seats on a 737, assuming 5 people cancel and never re-use their ticket, and 10 people pay the change fee. I didn’t take into account any full fare or first class tickets which would make my number higher. Assuming the airline wants to make the same amount of money if they bend their rules, and assuming they refund the 5 tickets and don’t charge their $200 change fee on the 10 tickets, the average cost of a round trip ticket will go up $126 (again, assuming all seats were discounted economy). I just made up the 5 and 10 figures as I feel they are conservative. I don’t know what the airlines use when they calculate their fares, and I am sure its much more complex than what I did. But for this to work, it doesn’t mean flexible tickets would cost $126 more than restricted tickets, it means 100% of all tickets must cost $126 more. How many people are willing to see that big a change in airfare across the board? And again, since I didn’t take into account First or Full Fare, or the higher cost Flex Fare, and I used an intentionally low number of changes, I believe it would actually go up more per ticket if the rules were relaxed.

    Waiting for @Jeanne_in_NE to chime in on my stats :)

  • TonyA_says

    I think a better idea is for airlines to put back the medical emergency exemption on their fare rules and contract of carriage. Some airlines still have that provision in their fare rules (for international routes).

  • TonyA_says

    This one is an angel. She still can’t walk and travel (and really deserves some compassion) whereas the partial b*tch fully recovered from her stomach illness and was ready to go to war :-)

  • TonyA_says

    Correction. It was 10d and not 14d.
    In other words she could have purchased a 10d advanced purchase for $194 and hopefully nothing happens to her for 10 days.

  • TonyA_says

    For $287 more each direction.

    The no penalty normal fare costs $458 oneway.

  • flutiefan

    Delays don’t get refunds…

  • omgstfualready

    Conjoined twins forced to buy two seats?

  • omgstfualready

    Puts the OP ahead of someone with a deceased relative but still below a quadriplegic on the sympathy scale.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Heck, you can just call me Jeanne, since we’re friends. :)

    Crazy busy today, so I don’t have time to go look up the assumptions, but this is all pretty simple math, not statistics. So, x = # of seats on a 737. y = average domestic restricted ticket in US$. Total anticipated revenue = xy +5y + 10*200 using your 5 complete cancellations (and presumed re-selling of the same ticket) and 10 changes and the crazy assumption that everyone is paying the same ticket price. Now, the proposed ticket price would cost z, which we will presume that z>y. xy +5y +2000 = xz becomes the new equation. Solving for z, then z = y + 5y/x +2000/x. x and y started out as positive integers, so it’s pretty easy to see that z is greater than y by that sum of 5y/x +2000/x.

    I think x is 143 seats (like Southwest), but I don’t know y. If I plug z = y + 126 into the equation, with x = 143, I come up with a crazy answer for y. Maybe I’m not using the same equation that you did? If I stick $400 into the equation, the proposed ticket price would be about $28 more.

    Interested in seeing your equation and what I’m missing.

  • bodega3

    Use a TA if you don’t know how to access all fares a carrier has. I have been without my GDS for awhile and am back on this week. Let me tell you, for those who shop online, you aren’t seeing what I can see in short order. Granted, I am use to having everything at my finger tips, but what I couldn’t see was a real eye opener! I hope to never shop online again for travel arrangements!

  • emanon256

    That sounds like what I did, I did it all in excel and didn’t save it, so I cant go back to it. But I got $63 (rather than $28) and multiplied it by 2, since most people purchase R/T tickets. I think the number I got from Flight Aware was $270ish for 1-way, and I had 133 seats.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    So, using those numbers, I have 5*270/133 + 2000/133 ~= $25. That’s per flight segment. Not per roundtrip, per segment, since airlines figure out revenue by segment. That’s a minimum of $50 for a R/T ticket and for folks like me and the OP, who can’t take a direct flight to their destinations, that’s another $100 per R/T ticket.

    Oh – and I did my calculations w/ scratch paper and a hand calculator, since that’s the way I do my tutoring. :)

  • emanon256

    What I did was way more complicated. I basically made two planes in excel and took the difference and divided it by the number of seats. Maybe something was off in there. Or I didn’t count the number of seats correctly. So I got $63 per seg, which if I counted the seats incorrectly was $31.50 per seg, which is closer to your $25 and I don’t remember the number I used and didn’t feel like looking it up again, so that could be why they are slightly different.

    This is why I just stick to addition and subtraction :) Ive been out of accounting for quite a few years now and use really smart people to design the accounting software for me now. And I pretty much just work in A/R related accounting. Not figuring out what to charge, though I did do that a long time ago, but not for anything as complex as an airline.

    I wish I knew how many people really did cancel, no-show, and pay the change fee.

  • Daddydo

    Chris….you are an advocate. I, as an agent understand most airline, car, or travel situations that you post. I find some of them amusing, some of them weird, some of them compassionate. I work my butt off for the clients that deserve attention because I am an advocate for my clients.When they are wierd or wrong, we do say, sorry. Today, you did a great job!

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Well, if you did have less restricted tickets, a LOT more people would take advantage of the relaxation of rules. So, the increase in fares would have to take that into account, as well. Rather than 5 cancellations, then you’d have 10. 20 people changing their times or dates, rather than 10. So, my equation would have to change as well, meaning yet more money per segment needed in order to achieve the same revenue stream.

  • Lindabator

    Because she said she CALLED Delta, which means she went through a res agent – they are NOT authorized to refund nonrefundable tickets for ANY reason – if she would have gone directly to customer relations, then THEY have the authority to do so.

  • Lindabator

    NEVER laughed so hard! :)

  • Lindabator

    But why should the company assume the risks? You want risk free, YOU pay for it — if I am willing to assume the risk, I should not be forced to pay for your poor choices. Which is why there are options available for either end of the spectrum.

  • Lindabator

    And if an act of God, why should they?

  • Lindabator

    Not on this site – :)

  • Lindabator

    $20???? They have to sell ALL the cheap inventory and 80% of the unrestricted fares in order to just break even — you folks just don’t get how costly it truly is for the airlines — if you can only afford greyhound, take greyhound. Or learn to take the risks, or insure against them. You can’t have it both ways.

  • Michael Lockard

    I think Chris did the compassionate (and correct) thing and asked for Delta to consider a special review of the situation. We all know that the big airline carriers are inflexible, rigid, and downright cold and mean on a regular basis, but you have to give kudos to Delta for having a heart and taking care of this couple. I hope like the dickens that when I get to be 80 years old that I am still alive, let alone trying to fly somewhere for a visit. Thank You to Chris for a quickie resolution episode and Thank You to Delta for considering the situation and showing good old customer service for this elderly couple, and I sincerely hope that next year that their health still allows them to travel, and that their trip will be successful. Don’t you wish that cases like this were resolved with a little empathy more often? Bravo!

  • TonyA_says

    How do I request a refund over the telephone or via mail?

    To request a refund for an refundable or unrestricted eTicket
    purchased with a credit card, call Delta Reservation Sales at
    800-221-1212 within the U.S. or Canada. For all other countries, see Worldwide Reservations Numbers to locate a number in your area.

    Hmm, the ole lady was right the first time :-)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    It factors into the carriers decision to exercise its discretion in granting compassionate consideration.

  • http://cruising101.blogspot.com/ Mary Dillon McTevia

    It WAS the right thing to do. Thank you Delta!

  • backprop

    That says for a refund on a refundable or unrestricted ticket, though, right? Am I missing something?

  • TonyA_says

    Unless you consider this more accurate …
    Customer Care

    For comments or complaints regarding your past travel experience, please email us or contact us at 800-455-2720

  • TonyA_says

    I made a simple search for penalty rules on a NYC to LON ticket.
    While international rules differ from domestic ones, one still has to wonder why airlines have different compassion levels. You can see the good (e.g. KLM / Lufthansa / United / Virgin Atlantic / Iberia / BrusselsAir / Alitalia), the bad and the ugly.

    The good means the airline writes down illness as a reason to waive penalties

    KLM:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE IN CASE OF CANCEL.
    WAIVED FOR ILLNESS OR DEATH OF PASSENGER OR FAMILY MEMBER.
    ILLNESS/DEATH WAIVER MUST BE SUBSTANTIATED BY A VALID MEDICAL/DEATH CERTIFICATE.

    LH:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE.
    EMERGENCY PROVISION
    — TICKET MAY BE REFUNDED OR USED TOWARD THE PURCHASE OF ANOTHER TICKET IF DUE TO ILLNESS OF PASSENGER OR TRAVELING COMPANION OR DEATH OF PASSENGER/IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBER/ TRAVELING COMPANION. A VALID DEATH OR HOSPITAL/MEDICAL CERTIFICATE IS REQUIRED.

    UA:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE IN CASE OF CANCEL/NO-SHOW/ REFUND.
    WAIVED FOR SCHEDULE CHANGE.
    B. EMERGENCY PROVISION
    TICKET MAY BE USED TOWARD PURCHASE OF ANOTHER TICKET DUE TO AN EMERGENCY OF
    PASSENGER / IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBER OR TRAVELING COMPANION.
    DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED CONTACT CARRIER.

    VS:
    CANCELLATIONS
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE.
    WAIVED FOR DEATH OF PASSENGER OR IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBER AS EVIDENCED BY A DEATH CERTIFICATE
    CHANGES ANY TIME CHARGE USD 300.00
    WAIVED FOR ILLNESS OR DEATH OF PASSENGER OR FAMILY MEMBER.

    IB:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE IN CASE OF CANCEL/NO-SHOW/ REFUND.
    WAIVED FOR DEATH OF A PASSENGER AND PASSENGER-S IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBER /1ST DEGREE RELATIONS ONLY/ OR FOR PASSENGER-S HOSPITAL ADMISSION.

    SN:
    B. EMERGENCY PROVISION
    TICKET MAY BE REFUNDED OR USED TOWARD THE PURCHASE OF ANOTHER TICKET IF DUE TO ILLNESS OF PASSENGER OR TRAVELING COMPANION OR DEATH OF PASSENGER/IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBER TRAVELING COMPANION. A VALID DEATH OR HOSPITAL/MEDICAL CERTIFICATE IS REQUIRED

    AZ:
    NOTE – WAIVED FOR ILLNESS OR DEATH OF PASSENGER OR FAMILY MEMBER.
    ILLNESS/DEATH MUST BE SUBSTANTIATED BY A VALID HOSPITAL/DEATH CERTIFICATE.

    ————————————————

    AA:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE IN CASE OF CANCEL/NO-SHOW/ REFUND.
    WAIVED FOR SCHEDULE CHANGE/DEATH OF PASSENGER OR FAMILY MEMBER.
    WAIVER ALSO APPLIES FOR TRAVELING COMPANION.

    US:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE.
    WAIVED FOR DEATH OF PASSENGER.
    CHANGES ANY TIME CHARGE USD 300.00 FOR REISSUE.
    WAIVED FOR DEATH OF PASSENGER.
    NOTE – ALSO WAIVED FOR DEATH OF TRAVELING COMPANION.
    WAIVERS MUST BE EVIDENCED BY DEATH CERTIFICATE.

    BA:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE.
    WAIVED FOR DEATH OF A PASSENGER AND PASSENGERS TRAVELLING COMPANIONS.

    DL:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE IN CASE OF CANCEL/NO-SHOW.
    WAIVED FOR DEATH OF PASSENGER OR FAMILY MEMBER.
    DEATH WAIVER MUST BE SUBSTANTIATED BY A VALID MEDICAL/DEATH CERTIFICATE.

    TP:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE.
    WAIVED FOR DEATH OF PASSENGER OR FAMILY MEMBER.

    AC:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE.
    CHANGES
    CHARGE USD 300.00 FOR REISSUE/REVALIDATION.
    WAIVED FOR DEATH OF PASSENGER OR FAMILY MEMBER.

    AY:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE IN CASE OF CANCEL/NO-SHOW/ REFUND.
    WAIVED FOR SCHEDULE CHANGE/DEATH OF PASSENGER OR FAMILY MEMBER.
    NOTE – WAIVER ALSO APPLIES FOR TRAVELING COMPANION.

    —————————————————
    TK:
    CANCELLATIONS
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE IN CASE OF NO-SHOW.
    NOTE – NOT PERMITTED EVEN FOR MEDICAL REASON FOR NON REFUNDABLE TICKETS THE -YR- SURCHARGE WILL NOT BE REFUNDED.

    AF:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE IN CASE OF CANCEL.

    LX:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE

    FI:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE.

    DY:
    TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE.

  • TonyA_says

    By the way, what ever happened to all those SENIOR fares?
    Maybe airlines can create a senior fare with a kindler and gentler penalty clause.
    PS. check your email, please.

  • TonyA_says

    Probably easier if other airlines follow something like AA’s choice plus.
    Essentially offer the passenger different packages, some including a built-in change fee, etc.

  • Alan Gore

    I second!

  • Alan Gore

    How do you buy a less restricted fare? Go Southwest, of course, if there is a possibility you may need to make changes. Despite all those baleful warnings we keep hearing in commentary here about them needing to go heartless if they’re going to survive, they seem to be doing just fine. If you’re nice to your customers, they come back. That’s the kind of loyalty you can’t buy with a “loyalty program.”

  • TonyA_says

    Ah, how about stories here where folks just buy a new ticket from another airline and expect the original airline will reimburse them?

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    At a certain point in your life, you must realize that buying non-refundable anything is pretty much a crap shoot.
    My airline tickets are always non-refundable…I just take my chances.

  • Nathan Witt

    Sure they are, because they’re one sided. Let’s try this on for size: If you are denied boarding, or if your flight is late, or if your flight is cancelled, the airline owes you a refund, plus a $300 change fee, regardless of the reason and even if they’re able to reaccomodate you later. Does that sound rediculous? It’s because it is. Things happen sometimes, like weather, or broken ankles. And I’m aware that there are tickets without restrictions, but they aren’t reasonably priced.

  • LFH0

    Well, there are the provisions related to refusal to transport (in the case of Delta Air Lines, rule 35), which then results in a full involuntary refund. Among the reasons for refusal are, inter alia, having a contagious disease that may be transmissible to other passengers during the normal course of the flight, unable to sit in a seat with the seatbelt fastened, requiring an onboard stretcher kit, being seriously ill and failing to provide a physician’s written permission to fly. If Ms. Brubaker satisfied one of the conditions for being refused transportation, and Delta Air Lines did so refuse to transport her, then she would have been entitled to a full refund. Perhaps this was one of the considerations used by Delta Air Lines to issue a refund here. But I suspect most people who should not be flying because they have one of these conditions (especially contagious diseases) are acquiescing to whatever they are told over the telephone as to cancellations rather than having themselves denied transportation and receiving full refunds.

  • TonyA_says

    Hopefully we don’t have to go that far.
    I am still hopeful Charlie and Chris can possibly work with senior citizen groups to get something through Congress.

  • TonyA_says

    Except that older and sickly people disproportionately suffer since they have a much higher risk of cancelling due to medical reasons.
    The problem is so many liars abused this policy and so we really can’t blame the airline for removing it.
    I wish we can get it back in every fare rule.

  • TonyA_says

    If the OP had polio affecting her limbs, then a broken ankle might make it harder to her to be mobile. It is relevant IMO.

  • Suzette

    Most third party travel insurance policies do cover pre-existing conditions, if purchased within a specified time window after travel is purchased. I almost always advise my clients to purchase a separate policy rather than the travel supplier’s policy to get more comprehensive coverage at a better price. If you have health concerns, it’s worthwhile to talk with a professional travel advisor before booking nonrefundable travel arrangements.

  • bodega3

    Yes, most policies/rules have come about due to past travelers abuses. I have mentioned it here before, but I have had doctors lie, county judges lie all to get out of their travel arrangements.

  • bodega3

    Yes, international fares often have this rule in their APEX fares. We haven’t insured out international airline tickets because we buy a fare that has this rule.

  • bodega3

    Senior fares still exist in some markets, just not all. Not sure why. WN’s senior fares are higher than their APEX fares, so not everyone who qualifies for them books them.
    I checked my email.

  • omgstfualready

    Free market must reign. Or we can go back to when air travel was restricted to the well off, while you are free to take the bus.

  • Crissy

    I voted no, it’s not because I’m cold and heartless, they seem like nice people with misfortune and that sucks.

    But you know what… A couple years ago my Mom was going to Hawaii. Then she had a hip replacement and got MRSA, had two wash outs was stuck in a hospital for 8 weeks, rehab for 5 more and by the time the trip to Hawaii came up she was just getting her hip put in 6 months after the initial replacement.

    I was actually able to get her money back based on them changing her flight times by over 2 hours. If that wasn’t the case I would have asked United if they could refund the money or offer a credit or something. If that didn’t work, well then my Mom would have been out the money. It was a good deal on a non-refundable ticket – we took a risk and probably would have lost.

    My lack of sympathy comes from a place where I know the frustration, but I also know that when I booked the ticket for my Mom that if something happened she was entitled to NOTHING

  • StaceR530

    Allianz seems to offer some very specific policies; their Essential Plan sounds like a possible fit for those in precarious health like the OP:
    (From Alianz.com) “If you’re looking to protect the financial investment you make in your domestic air travel, the Essential Plan may be an ideal option. The Essential Plan is our most affordable plan and is good if you’re seeking trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage. It also offers travel delay coverage and 24-hour assistance services.”

    It has a pre-ex waiver when a few standard terms are met (e.g. policy bought within 14 days of trip payment or deposit, medically able to travel on the day you purchased the plan, etc.). Based on the ages of the OP & spouse, the policy would have added about $35 per person. Presumably, that’s a better deal for many travelers than purchasing the less restrictive airfare would be (though obviously, the cancelation or interruption has to be for a covered reason).

  • Annie M

    Third party travel insurance that covers pre-existing conditions if booked within 2 weeks of deposit would have covered her. Again, no excuse. But as others have said, at least she was nice but for GODS SAKE – PLEASE EDUCATE READERS ABOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE! And if she had used a good travel agent, they would have recommended it too.