I had an aneurysm, but British Airways is keeping my money

Tupungato / Shutterstock.com
Tupungato / Shutterstock.com
Question: I was recently diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm and my surgeon and my surgeon told me I wasn’t fit for travel. I had a ticket on British Airways to attend my daughter’s wedding. Because of this life-threatening condition, I couldn’t use my tickets.

I’ve contacted British Airways numerous times by phone, fax and email, requesting a refund or a voucher. It’s been almost six months, and I have not received an answer. Can you help me get a response from British Airways? — Gavin King, San Juan Bautista, Calif.

Answer: I’m sorry to hear about your medical condition, and hope you’re feeling better. I’m also sorry that you missed your daughter’s wedding. British Airways should have answered your request for a refund or voucher, of course — even if to explain that it couldn’t do either. I’m puzzled that it wouldn’t even give you the time of day.

Here’s what appears to have happened: You were flying on a nonrefundable ticket, you had to have surgery, and you missed your flight. Either British Airways didn’t receive your voucher request before the flight, or it got the message after you left (at this point, it doesn’t matter). You were listed as a “no show” and the airline kept your money. It’s allowed to do that, by the way.

I reviewed your written correspondence, and while you’re clear and concise about what happened, you’re also borderline demanding. While I can understand your frustration, it’s always best to approach a request like this with your politeness-meter turned all the way up. Not because they deserve to be treated with extra deference (the don’t always) but because it’s more effective.

There’s no excuse, on the other hand, for British Airways’ delayed response. Even if you were completely obnoxious, you’re still a customer. I’m not sure if travel insurance would have helped in this situation. Many policies have pre-existing conditions clauses, and a clever claims adjuster might deny your claim because the condition that caused the aneurism existed before you purchase the policy. I’m no doctor, but I’ve seen things like that happen.

British Airways had four options: keep your money, offer a credit with a change fee, offer a credit but waive the change fee because of your circumstances, or give you a full refund. It probably could have kept your money, but that would seem heartless, given your circumstances.

British Airways offered you a ticket credit and waived the change fee.

Should British Airways have refunded Gavin King's ticket?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

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 the new forum.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus

  • polexia_rogue

    how hard is it to cancel a ticket? go to the website, put in your information and hit the cancel button.

    i had to cancel a ticket when my husband had blood poisoning and fell in to a coma.- because the rule is clear–
    cancel before your flight OR they keep your money. do not expect airlines to help you after the fact- they have hundreds of customers to deal with every day

  • PsyGuy

    Help or not, BA owed the customer a response, even if it was a form letter saying they were giving him nothing.

  • TonyA_says

    How was the ticket purchased? By someone else for him? Through an agency? It might make a difference.

  • Cybrsk8r

    It might be a little tough getting online from an operating room. If an aortic aneurism ruptures anywhere but a hospital, you’re dead, period. In fact, you’ll be dead in less time than it took me to type this post. I guarantee this guy was in surgury in less than 24 hours after his doctor made the diagnoses.

  • Sarabz

    I’m really tired of people asking for refunds on non-refundable tickets. Stuff happens to disrupt plans – it’s called life.

  • sirwired

    From the story, it sounds like he was awake and recovering by the time the flight came up, as he didn’t say he was unconscious; he said his doctor had pronounced him unfit to travel. All it would have taken was to pick up the phone and dial the 800 reservations number…

  • CubFan7125

    What part of non refundable didn’t she understand? You got the ticket at that cheaper price for a reason. BA owes you nothing

  • EdB

    One thing not explained in the story was the timeline of events. Basically, when was the flight scheduled, when did they find out about the aneurism, and when did they first try to contact BA about the situation. For me, this can make a difference. If they found out about the condition months in advance but they didn’t contact BA until after the flight, they deserve nothing. If they found out the day before and was unable to contact BA until after the flight, then BA could be more flexible if it wanted to be, but wouldn’t have to. If, as the OP says, BA never responded to them, I think BA owes them something, as a PR action, to make up for that failure.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Way to go, BA!

  • $16635417

    If the OP had the opportunity to cancel prior to travel, then he’s owed nothing. If the OP missed the flight as he was unexpectedly incapacitated and was unable to cancel prior to the flight, then he’s also owed nothing. If the circumstances were the latter, he certainly could appeal and explain the circumstances. I was intrigued by the fact he was “borderline demanding”, not exactly the way to make your appeal!

  • http://www.petergmcdermott.com/ Peter G McDermott

    So I just left a 12-month lease early. I had to move because of my job. If I didn’t, I would lose my source of income and become homeless (okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but moving was essential to my employment). Was I still obligated to pay for the two months of which I moved out early? Of course I was.

    Buying an airline ticket is a lot like signing a contract, there are certain terms that you must abide by. I know the circumstances at hand in this article seem extenuating, but if the passenger had the opportunity to cancel the flight, they should have in order to receive a voucher for another later flight.

  • Deborah Orth

    It sounds like the OP does not know the meaning of the word Nonrefundable, also as Chris pointed out politeness does help. I feel sorry that his medical condition caused him to miss the daughter’s wedding day, but maybe he should have taken out insurance I know some plans will cover preexisting conditions depending when they are bought.

  • Deborah Orth

    You can ask for a refund due to medical condition, jury duty, or death etc. but they are not required to give you a refund. Also I think they are required to refund any government tax that was charged for a flight you could not take. Maybe we have a leagl expert out there who could speak to that.

  • Cam

    Yeah the person got a cheaper ticket by buying non-refundable but then wants the benefits of a more expensive one.

    Doesn’t seem fair really.

  • Laura616

    I had a similar issue with Virgin. I had a letter from the doctor saying I was unfit to fly. I had purchased an Upper Class ticket and they kept $500 as a cancellation fee saying I should have taken insurance. They also said they do not issue full refunds unless you are actually hospitalized.

    And as Chris said, insurance tends to wriggle out of anything. Airlines have also refused to pay out when someone has actually died!

  • MarkKelling

    Isn’t this type of situation exactly what insurance is for?

    While, as Chris mentions, an adjuster can claim this is a pre-existing condition and deny the claim, this seems fairly close to a slam dunk to get the refund for the OP if he had insurance. A pre-existing condition is usually noted as something you are either under the care of a doctor for or something that would cause a reasonable person to seek treatment. Not being a doctor and not being familiar with this condition, I don’t know if you have symptoms far in advance or it comes on suddenly. Either way, the OP apparently did NOT have insurance which would have been a good thing to have since the marriage of your daughter is a once in a lifetime event. Or maybe a twice in a lifetime event, but is not an everyday occurrence.

    Since we don’t know at what time in relation to the actual travel the OP found out he could not fly, we can’t guess about when BA was actually notified. Did he go to the doctor a couple days before the trip and was rushed directly into surgery and was then recovering and unable to contact BA? Did this happen weeks before the trip and he was recovered enough but didn’t think about contacting the airline? Was there someone he could have had contact BA on his behalf?

    At least BA did, eventually, give him a credit he could use at a later time. Not a refund since this was a non-refundable ticket which seems like an acceptable solution.

  • Thomas Ralph

    Major credit to BA for being so generous. It’s not for BA to give a refund here, it’s a travel insurance thing.

  • Jane

    I challenge you to do anything like that while recovering from heart surgery. The last time I was “awake and recovering”, I had a nurse standing next to me reminding me to breathe. I wasn’t in any fit shape to call an airline

  • $16635417

    I’ve been in similar situations about moving for work related reasons. I’ve been upfront (not demanding or obnoxious) and the landlords have always let me out of my lease early. The most I had to pay was the loss of a security deposit.

  • llandyw

    Hey Chris, not wanting to be a grammar nazi or anything, but this particular article isn’t up to your usual standards. Don’t know if you were in a hurry or what, but you might want to look it over and maybe fix the errors. At first I thought that maybe someone else wrote it.

  • $16635417

    I have no problem with asking. I have a problem with demanding and expecting.

  • Bill___A

    Many leases have a clause where you are let out of it if you can prove you were transferred for work purposes. At least here, they do.

    I realize the plane ticket issue is different…either use a credit card that has travel insurance or buy travel insurance.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I may have worked off an earlier and unedited copy of the story. Can you email me at elliottc@gmail.com with the errors — I’ll fix them right away.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    ,The analogy proves the opposite. If you need to break your residential lease there are legal provisions by which you won’t have to pay the remaining months. If you or the landlord find a suitable replacement tenant, the law in many states permits you to break the lease, penalty free, regardless of the contract.

    Basically, the law provides a framework so that neither the tenant nor the landlord is out any money. By contrast here, the airlines refuse to give passengers an opportunity to mitigate their damages by allowing the ticket to be transferred to someone else.

  • bodega3

    The OP doesn’t mention how the ticket was purchased, but since he was contacting the airline directly, I am assuming he didn’t use a professional TA, a consolidator or book through an OTA. What is puzzling me is that most nonrefundable international tickets, for travel from the US, usually allow for a refund due to covered medical reasons(think major medical not a hangnail) with proper proof. I am wondering if the OP’s request fell through the cracks and when Chris got involved, the airline finally followed the rules of their fare for the refund. There is no fee for canceling due to covered medical reasons.

  • bodega3

    Most nonrefundable international fares, for travel originating in the US allow for a refund due to documented medical reasons. This is where actually reading the rules of your fare is important!!!

  • bodega3

    What did the rules of your fare say? Did you read it before you purchased your ticket?

  • bodega3

    I forgot to mention that besides looking at the price of a ticket, reading the rules is very important. The fare the OP booked many not have allowed for medical reasons for a refund, but a slightly higher fare could have. Buying a ticket should not be based solely on price…but this seems to fall on deaf ears these days.

  • lvswhippets

    What did I miss? There is no mention of emergency surgery. A ruptured aneurysm is a life & death situation. Repair can be done as a scheduled surgery to prevent the rupture. I always buy trip insurance as soon as I book to cover all existing conditions. Haven’t had to use it yet thank goodness. But don’t think the airline is responsible for posters problem. Before the rule was passed about this a physician I knew signed medical releases for any thing changed minds. It was a racket but not illegal.

  • Ann

    Travel insurance most certainly could have helped if he purchased a policy with pre-existing condition coverage within the time frame the insurance companies allow.
    His other option was to purchase a refundable ticket but due to the cost, many flyers won’t do that. But buying a non-refundable ticket, not following directions and then being demanding doesn’t help the situation – if the airlines refunded every person who missed a flight because of one reason or another, we’d be paying even more for tickets than we are now.

    BA was wrong for not responding promptly but perhaps if the flyer were nicer they would have had a much better response. You get more with honey than vinegar.

  • TonyA_says

    Especially if the one demanding NEVER READ the rules of his ticket.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    These endless stories about people who want their money back from a non-ref tix are BORING.

  • http://rantsofasassystew.com/ Sassy Stew

    I feel bad for the guy, but non-refundable is non-refundable. He’s lucky they offered a ticket credit because they didn’t have to. Take it, and be thankful.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I agree. I like that some airlines now provide a chart of tickets options. Recently, a refundable ticket from SFO-LAX was like $3.00 more than the nonrefundable ticket. Not a bad insurance policy.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    If airlines made their tickets refundable, I wouldn’t have to keep mediating these cases.

  • bodega3

    No not a bad insurance policy. We bought nonrefundable business class ticket that allowed for cancellation in the rules should we or a family get sick or if there was a death in the family, they were refundable. We saved several thousands off a fully refundable business class ticket and the only thing that would have keep us from traveling was what was covered for a refund. People need to look past the cost and do their homework and read fare rules before buying any ticket!

  • y_p_w

    But the airlines do have fully refundable fares. However, that comes at an almost penalizing cost

  • bodega3

    Just wait until a bridal couple starts charging invited guests as a nonshow, or the mom who has put on enough birthday parties and have nonshows, sends a bill to the parents of little Jr. Maybe people will wake and see that their cancellations, noshows cost money. I have said it many times on this forum, went I started selling travel people made a commitment that they stuck to. Now if the surf is up at the beach, they will cancel their other plans and leave those who have paid out to accommodate them holding the bag. I get why the airlines and other businesses do this. I am sure you have heard that restaurants are starting to do it, too. Make a reservation and you have to provide a credit card. If you don’t cancel, are a nonshow, or don’t cancel within a certain time period, you will get a charge. I understand their frustration and why!

  • Matt Blumenfeld

    Given some of the responses here, I’ve got to think that a lot of the respondents have never experienced a major medical emergency. There is far more involved in canceling a flight for medical reasons than simply picking up the phone and canceling. It’s one of those cases where the rules for non-refundable tickets really don’t work very well. Sure “rules are rules,” but slavish devotion to rules without regard to humane treatment of other people makes for rather poor customer relations.

    We had a similar experience with British Airways, when my wife had to cancel a flight due to health reasons. We provided tons of documentation, and had months of lead time. As part of researching the rules, I noticed that British Airways states on their website that they won’t let you fly if you aren’t medically fit. It seems reasonable to interpret that statement to mean that you would get your money back if you aren’t fit to fly, but when I brought up that point it was pretty much ignored by BA. After weeks of back-and-forth, they finally agreed to “make an exception” and issue a flight credit, but they also charged a hefty change fee. As pointed out elsewhere in this thread, travel insurance would likely have not helped because it’s a “preexisting condition.”

    The end result is that British Airways refunded the taxes and fees (as they are required to do if you ask) and now we have a flight credit that we aren’t going to able to use anytime soon (her health conditions continue, keeping her unfit to fly) for a lot less than the original ticket price (since they charged a change fee) that expires in September. I supposed it’s better than nothing, at least until it expires, but it is way less than we wanted, and was WAY more trouble to obtain than it should have been.

  • Matt Blumenfeld

    As a quick follow-up, here is what BA’s website says about medical clearance and fitness to fly. Regardless of the type of ticket, if they don’t allow you to fly they should refund your ticket:

    Medical clearance to fly is required when:

    fitness to travel is in doubt as a result of recent illness, hospitalisation, injury or surgery

    you have an existing unstable medical condition

    special services such as oxygen or the use of medical equipment on board is needed

    you are travelling for medical reasons or treatment.

    Most medical cases are straightforward but others require individual
    assessment. In some cases, we may ask that you travel with a medical
    escort or with supplementary oxygen (for which a charge is made).

    In common with most airlines, we assess your fitness to fly based on
    internationally accepted criteria; the aim is to ensure that you have a
    safe, comfortable and uneventful journey.

  • Matt Blumenfeld

    Are you seriously saying that if:

    (A) The airline says that the ticket is non-refundable AND

    (B) Their rules say that you have to meet the condition of fitness to fly

    that the airline should be allowed to keep your money, despite the fact that you aren’t fit to fly (by their own definition)? That doesn’t seem right, does it?

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Okay, late to the party, but here goes. An abdominal aortic aneurysm can be found in *advance* of the aneurysm rupturing. Certain medical tests and scans pick this up and more and more people who fit the profile (older, smokers, etc. – not a complete nor definitive list) are going in for preventive scans. This seems to be the case here – the OP was scanned, spoke with his doctor, who referred him to a surgeon, who said, “Don’t travel”.

    My m-i-l did have an AAA rupture – and miraculously survived. Only 5% of those people who have had a rupture do survive. The way this case was presented, the OP didn’t experience a rupture and there was NO medical emergency. A need to treat at some point in the future is NOT a medical emergency.

    From the Mayo Clinic’s website, which I recommend as excellent and easy reading: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/abdominal-aortic-aneurysm/ds01194

    “Depending on the size and rate at which your abdominal aortic aneurysm is growing, treatment may vary from watchful waiting to emergency surgery. Once an abdominal aortic aneurysm is found, doctors will closely monitor it so that surgery can be planned if it’s necessary. Emergency surgery for a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can be risky.

  • Theresa

    Most abdominal aortic aneurysms are found by accident as there are no symptoms until right before they rupture and then you die. My otherwise picture of health husband is recovering from surgery for one which was found accidently right before we were to fly off on a vacation. The surgeon said he would probably would have died if it hadn’t been found. Many medical conditions do not have apparent symptoms until they are well advanced. So to follow the line of thought from most posters every apparently healthy person should always buy travel insurance and bolster another sham industry just in case a person becomes ill at the last minute. Fortunately in all of the chaos I remembered to cancel our reservation. I once had to cancel a ticket for my in-law because my in-law was told she could never fly again after becoming ill. I had paid for the ticket but it was in her name. The airline didn’t want to refund it nor did they want to transfer the ticket to me. I worked my way through the system and provided a letter from the dr stating she could not fly and they finally transferred the ticket to me. There are exceptions to every rule and a life threatening condition should be an exception. I don’t necessarily believe BA should have refunded the ticket, but a credit should have been issued after receiving a letter from his doctor.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    You are so right … I wonder if there’s an avenue that normal travellers could explore to “help” the airlines sell refundable tix for maybe a 30% premium. I understand that the travelling public now has what it says it wanted … rock- botttom fares, but perhaps there’s a middle ground somewhere? I am in favor of fees for the services you want/use but the non-ref tix mess needs some adjustment. Let’s form a committee and get Gordon Bethune to chair it … everyone listens to Gordon.

  • Peggy Goldman

    Most travel insurance comes with a pre-condition waiver if purchased at the time of booking. Some policies have this benefit up to 7 pr even 14 days after booking.. Having the opportunity to purchase travel insurance and not taking advantage of that opportunity essentially negates the argument for reimbursement. Delays from BA aside, this would not have been an issue if this traveler had bought a good travel protection policy that offers a pre-existing condition waiver.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    must be a slow news day. Why are we even talking about this one.
    Medical problem is not airlines problem.
    Tell him to get a life !!!

  • Dutchess

    Yep, that’s why you buy travel insurance.

  • davidglass

    This forum is filled 99% with airline apologists, if you have not already figured that out.

  • Bill___A

    Doubt it. Just saying there is a function for travel insurance. Not being fit to fly doesn’t mean you get a refund.

  • davidglass

    Ok, so you’re not an airline apologist, but rather a travel insurance industry apologist, or maybe both. Please reread the comments Chris Elliott wrote in his answer: “I’m not sure if travel insurance would have helped in this situation.
    Many policies have pre-existing conditions clauses, and a clever claims
    adjuster might deny your claim because the condition that caused the
    aneurism existed before you purchase the policy. I’m no doctor, but I’ve
    seen things like that happen.”

  • Bill___A

    Neither. Actually I was just overseas and had a medical issue, paid the change fees, didn’t cry to anyone about it.

  • Cat

    I have seen an aortic aneurysm that we could not get from the ER to OR fast enough, he didn’t make it. What are your chances on an aircraft at altitude? If your doctor tells you not to fly- you think its a good idea to go ahead anyway? There are additional factors at play in flight, less oxygen, atmospheric pressure changes that the doctor would have had in mind also. You also don’t know if this was picked up early in an unrelated test or if he was symptomatic at the time. BTW, an aortic fault that could cause an aneurysm IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. The pressures on the aorta are the highest in the body and it is very difficult to say when it could burst, and those pressures are why patients bleed out so fast. Your assertion that is not a medical emergency unless it has ruptured is way off course, most would not be able to fly anyway, they would be dead.

  • Grant Ritchie

    In Jeanne’s defense, click the link she embedded in her comment. An aortic aneurysm is NOT always a medical emergency. No less an authority than Mayo Clinic states that “treatment may vary from watchful waiting to emergency surgery.” She made no suggestion that Mr. King ignore his doctor’s advice not to fly, and he didn’t. His problem arose when (it appears) he didn’t bother to contact BA until after he’d been tagged as a no-show. Chris can and does work miracles for people; I’d just like to see a little more self-help.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Didn’t say he should fly. The narrative in the story didn’t indicate he’d had surgery, or experienced a rupture at the time he made the decision, under doctor’s orders, not to fly. If this was the case, the OP had the opportunity to work with or at the least notify British Airways before his flight, as opposed to being listed as a no-show. By neglecting to do so, and purchasing a nonrefundable ticket, the OP weakened his case to receive a refund.

  • Laura616

    No I didn’t read it. Silly me. I use airmiles most of the time and there is never an issue with those. My husband who was traveling with me on that occasion cancelled had his miles credited back to his account.

  • http://rantsofasassystew.com/ Sassy Stew

    Me?? I didn’t say that. Sorry.

  • http://rantsofasassystew.com/ Sassy Stew

    That is only for safety during the flight, it has nothing to do with your ticket. It is meant to prevent ill PAX from attempting to travel, causing a diversion, death, etc.

    ie: You can’t be discharged from the hospital and get on a plane the same day. People try to do it. I had one almost die as we were taxiing out to take-off. He was very sick, and knowingly got on the plane. Do you think he got his $$ back?! Ummmmm, nope.

  • Michael__K

    There is a solution to the pre-existing condition mess if you qualify — buy the waiver. (Otherwise, based on travel insurance cases Chris has written about, I would never call any medical cancellation claim “fairly close to a slam dunk.”)

    But why is the wedding relevant here? If all you’re insuring is a plane ticket and nothing else (there is no indication the OP had other non-refundable trip costs), does it really make sense for most people to buy insurance? For most people, a Travel Guard Gold plan (for example) on a $1200 airfare (a pretty decent deal for SFO to LHR), would cost over $80. The actual cost depends on age — if you are 75, it would cost $182. Yet, for $200, you could just pay the British Airways change fee to change your ticket…

    The only reason this case became an issue was because, for whatever reason, the cancellation request didn’t go through before the flight. That sort of problem exists to a lesser extent even with insurance claims — they will get denied if they aren’t submitted on time.

  • Matt Blumenfeld

    If you can really keep sick people from flying and not refund their ticket, then the rule is just plain wrong. If you are denied boarding, whether the cause is a full plane or if it’s because you are too sick to fly (in the judgement of the people that work for the airline), you should get your money back. That’s just common sense.

  • bodega3

    I am not sure if your comment, ‘silly me’ is sarcastic or not, but this isn’t a stupid question. I sell airline tickets, and I went into Virgin’s rules and read their upper class fares for a variety of upcoming dates of departure and I don’t see anything about hospitalization. I would have the carrier email you the full rules for cancelation for the date of your departure on the fare you were booked in. They can do this. Now if you didn’t book directly with Virgin, then I would ask the company who issued the ticket for the same thing.

    It is YOUR responsibility to read the rules and if you don’t and have someone else, be it the carrier interpret the rules, you have only yourself to get mad at!

  • Bill___A

    They can also deny them flight if they are drunk.
    It is the passenger’s responsibility to ensure they are fit to fly.

  • jpp42

    Isn’t this middle ground the availability of “Cancel for any reason” travel insurance?

  • jpp42

    If the condition had not been diagnosed, it shouldn’t be considered pre-existing. I checked the terms and conditions for the travel insurance provider I’m using, and the pre-existing condition section is quite complicated, but it generally relates to you being aware of the condition. If it truly had no symptoms or anyone being aware of it before the insurance was purchased, it’s not considered pre-existing.

  • jpp42

    As relates to travel insurance: if the condition had not been diagnosed previously, it shouldn’t be considered
    pre-existing. I checked the terms and conditions for the travel
    insurance provider I’m using, and the pre-existing condition section is
    quite complicated, but it generally relates to you being aware of the
    condition. If the OP truly had no symptoms or anyone being aware of the condition before the insurance was purchased, it’s not considered pre-existing. Obviously, once the symptoms appeared and the doctors’ visits started, it’s now pre-existing and you couldn’t purchase travel insurance at that point.

  • Daddydo

    Travel agent > issue ticket with insurance > cancel > get credit for future travel less penalties. You are NOT entitled to anything else unless you die. Then the estate can get a refund. Why does Gavin feel that he is any more entitled to special compensation than any other traveler. Read the rules, or if you are indeed incapable of such, contact somebody who is.

  • Daddydo

    I have seen one out of 10,000 get a refund for a medical situation (not including death) so it never hurts to ask. Rules have to remain stringent or change the rules to allow a cancellation for a sprained pinky.

  • Deborah Orth

    So they are kind of like Hen’s teeth extremely rare so when you do ask it probably pays to ask nicely

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Hmmmm … I need to look into this, I’ve noticed that Ua

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    I’ve noticed that UA wants to sell me insurance when I buy a tix … definitely worth looking into, thanks for bringing this up; I’ve just ignored it since we’ve had to rebook so few flights over the years.

  • Laura616

    No, i wasn’t being sarcastic and I didn’t think your question was stupid. This happened Christmas 2011, I had booked the ticket on the Virgin website when they had a one day sale earlier in the year so maybe the rules were different. I no longer have the emails that went back and forth but I can assure you that hospitalization was a requirement for them not to keep $500 of my money.

  • James Penrose

    I’ve been in similar circumstances. There’s this thing called travel insurance and this other thing called “refundable tickets”.

    We all take chances in order to ave money but the airline has the right to stick to the rules you agreed to when you bought the ticket.

    Especially if timely notice was not given.

  • Lindabator

    But ONLY if cancelled BEFORE the flight took off! :)

  • Lindabator

    buy the insurance within the proper time frame (usually 14 – 21 days) and WAIVE pre-existing conditions – simple!

  • Lindabator

    But if he never cancelled the ticket, it is considered a NO SHOW – and is not subject to refund – THAT is the situation he faced here. His fault, not theirs.

  • Lindabator

    No – just most here realize that just because you CHOOSE to purchase nonrefundable, then don’t like the restrictions, you don’t have a right to whine to get your refund you are not entitled to.

  • Lindabator

    That actually is standard, and refers to the state of health of the traveller on DAY of travel – obviously if you had a respiratory infection during SARS, they WEREN’T flying you anywhere.

  • Lindabator

    NO – that’s why you take travel insurance – for those unforeseen circumstances which come up making it impossible for you to travel.

  • Lindabator

    She never said that – she said he may have had more time than folks here are jumping to the conclusion of assuming was an emergency

  • bodega3

    Yes, but if you are in a hospital and can’t make the call, they will usually refund with that documentation. Yet, this is a good point to stress and that is the value of your fare might be forfeited if you don’t notify the carrier that you are not going to make the flight. No shows aren’t appreciated by the carriers.

  • Lindabator

    Amen! Our clients are WELL versed in that caveat before they even think it might come up!

  • Puck2u

    Chris good show old chap! Pip, pip and all that. Perfect example of being polite and follow up in a reasonable amount of time. Never should have gone on for 6 months.

  • Joe Farrell

    There many many people who have AAA’s – who live with them for YEARS before they have surgery. We don’t that is the case here – but – the OP never said: ” I could not travel because I had surgery.” He milked his diagnosis in to a ‘life threatening condition.’ Yeah, I’m a little crnaky today but – it sure sounds nasty.

    Non-refundable means just that. You screwed up. Deep breath. Don’t do it again.