British Airways Playing Games with the Family of the Decessed

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Mar 18, 2016
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My parents purchased plane tickets though a Romanian travel agency for a visit to see family in the United States. Towards the end of November 2015, my father was hospitalized because of severe health issues. Both myself, my mom and the travel agent have contacted BA to inquire about our options and informed them of my dad’s critical condition and his inability to fly. This was done way before the first scheduled flight. I also submitted a Hospital Attestation containing the details of my dad’s failing health to BA’s attention. I was advised that the ticket was nonrefundable, except for the taxes and the preferred seating, which the travel agency has kindly refunded. The representative (Anthony) advised me that the only way the entire amount of the ticket is reimbursed would be in case of death.
Unfortunately, my dad’s health continued to deteriorate and he passed away in December 2015, 3 days after the first flight was scheduled to take place. I contacted BA via their online portal multiple times in trying to get the Death Certificate to them and have them refund the rest of the money, but they are very inflexible and they keep pushing me back to the travel agency for a refund. The travel agent and the agency are more than happy to provide me with a refund, but they need authorization from BA.
I called Customer Relations a couple of weeks ago and spoke to Nick (H1), who reviewed the Terms and Conditions and checked with another department before confirming that my dad would be entitled to a full refund due to our contacting BA prior to the first scheduled flight and providing BA with poof that my dad was unfit to fly from the date he got sick until his death. I was told that in order to obtain the full refund, the travel agency needs to process the paperwork.
I am going in circles because the travel agency understands our circumstances and is ready to refund the rest of the money, but they are not able to do it until they get approval from BA in Romania. The BA representative in Romania (Cecilia Marin) refuses to give approval to the travel agency stating we don't have a case. Because BA will not put anything is writing to me regarding a refund for my late father's ticket, the BA representatives in Europe refuses to allow the Travel Agency to make a refund. When I or my mom call BA, they are telling us that because we paid the travel agency in Romania, BA can’t do anything and the money needs to be refunded by the travel agency. When the travel agent contacted BA Romania and Trade Support, she was told there my parent’s circumstances do not qualify for a refund.
I would have hoped that BA would appreciate these are very unusual circumstances and do what is right for their long time clients. My mom has been flying with them for the past 10 years. It is disappointing how faithful customers are treated.
My parents were not well off and the amount of money spent on tickets was quite a considerable sum for them. Anything we can recuperate from BA/Travel Agency would be more than welcome. I appreciate any help you can give us in this matter and let me how to email you documentation.
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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First I am so very sorry for your loss! Having to deal with something like this is so difficult when you already are dealing with such a huge loss.

In order to help and offer meaningful assistance we will need to ask you several questions. Let me apologize in advance if our questions seem repetitive or silly. Sometimes our clients know information and details that they are not aware of or think are not important. We try our best to ask everything we can think of and then some to get a complete picture.
We have some expert Travel Agents on the staff who will be able to get to the bottom of this and tell you how to proceed.

It sounds like you paid the Travel Agency directly, was this with a credit card or cash/check etc. If by credit card does your statement show a charge by British Airlines or your Travel Agency? I am also assuming since you used a Romanian Travel Agency you live overseas in Romania. Not sure if that is important but I'll ask any way.
It may be a while but some of our experts will drop by with more questions and advice. Please keep checking back and answer our questions as they come up.

When there is a death of a passenger, normally even the toughest airlines will make a refund.
 
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Mar 18, 2016
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First of all, thank you for taking the time to read and reply. My parents live in Romania, I live in the United States. They purchased the tickets themselves directly from the Romanian Travel Agency by either paying cash or bank transfer, I will have to check, but for sure they did NOT use a credit card or check. I have the receipt from the Travel Agency, which I have attached. Unfortunately it is in Romanian, but you can see 2 Oversees Plane Tickets for BA and the flight details. Let me know what are information you might need. Again, I appreciate all the help you guys can give.
 

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Neil Maley

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First of all, thank you for taking the time to read and reply. My parents live in Romania, I live in the United States. They purchased the tickets themselves directly from the Romanian Travel Agency by either paying cash or bank transfer, I will have to check, but for sure they did NOT use a credit card or check. I have the receipt from the Travel Agency, which I have attached. Unfortunately it is in Romanian, but you can see 2 Oversees Plane Tickets for BA and the flight details. Let me know what are information you might need. Again, I appreciate all the help you guys can give.
The travel agency needs to be the ones to send in the paperwork to BA. I am not sure why they are stalling. But we also have another issue here because the laws in Romania for flights are not what they are in the U.S.

From everything you have told me, the travel agency needs to be the ones to contact BA and work with them on your parents behalf.
 
Mar 18, 2016
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Hi Neil. The travel agency is not stalling and they have been very helpful in refunding the money paid on taxes and preferred seating. The travel agent has contacted BA and emailed to the BA representative in Romania and Europe multiple times asking approval to reimburse the rest of the money, but BA Romania will not give them the authorization. Mrs. Cecilia Marin (Commercial Support Executive - Commercial Balkans - BA) insists that there is no way BA can process a refund in this particular case. At my request, the travel agent has also started a request refund on the BA Trade Support Website. The problem is BA tells me we are entitled to the money back, but they tell the travel agent that we are not. If you tell me who the travel agency needs to contact in order to get this done, they will do it. Thank you.
 
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Aug 28, 2015
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I am so sorry for your loss. How kind of you to help your mom sort this out. She deserves this refund. I agree with Neil. My gut is telling me your travel agents are dragging their heels. I would write the BA contacts on the site and hopefully, they will make this happen at some level.
 
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JVillegirl541

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Nov 21, 2014
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The one thing you can ask BA is there any evidence your agent has even requested a refund? I realize you believe they are being helpful but I (and other staff) are very suspicious. The finger pointing game is something we see often from Airlines and Third Party Providers (your TA).
I understand you think they are really trying to help, I'm just not believing it ;)
 
R

Realitoes

Guest
Ana I,

Both JVillegirl541 and Neil are both correct, since the funds were paid to the travel agent via cash or bank transfer, then the travel agent is the one that will need to provide you with the refund. The airline would be the one to refund the travel agent. Of course, the travel agent probably isn't going to want to give the refund until they get their money first. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing which one is actually holding up the process.

My recommendation is to write to BA using the contacts in the Company Contacts link above, with a short concise note explaining that you have tried to process this through the Travel Agent to no avail, and would like their assistance. Be sure to include a copy of the Death Certificate. Start with the webform contact, give them a week to respond before moving up to the first executive contact, giving them a week also before moving to the next. Hopefully one of them will get the process started.

Keep in mind any refund will go to the travel agent, since that is who the airline received the funds from. You'll then need to obtain the refund from them.

Please come back and let us know if your were successful. If not, be sure to keep your paper trail, and we can possibly then ask Chris to take a look at it.
 
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Carol Phillips

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@Ana I. - we have some very savvy airline experts on this Forum and you've heard from some of them. I think their advice is sound and I have nothing to add to it.

My reason for writing is simply to offer my condolences on the loss of your father. You and your mother are in my thoughts and prayers ...
 
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R

Realitoes

Guest
Hi Neil. The travel agency is not stalling and they have been very helpful in refunding the money paid on taxes and preferred seating. The travel agent has contacted BA and emailed to the BA representative in Romania and Europe multiple times asking approval to reimburse the rest of the money, but BA Romania will not give them the authorization. Mrs. Cecilia Marin (Commercial Support Executive - Commercial Balkans - BA) insists that there is no way BA can process a refund in this particular case. At my request, the travel agent has also started a request refund on the BA Trade Support Website. The problem is BA tells me we are entitled to the money back, but they tell the travel agent that we are not. If you tell me who the travel agency needs to contact in order to get this done, they will do it. Thank you.
Ana, If they are a legitimate travel agency, they will have a contact point or access to the travel agent portal to route these requests and receive the required waiver code they would need to process the refund.
 
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jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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Ana I,

Both JVillegirl541 and Neil are both correct, since the funds were paid to the travel agent via cash or bank transfer, then the travel agent is the one that will need to provide you with the refund. The airline would be the one to refund the travel agent. Of course, the travel agent probably isn't going to want to give the refund until they get their money first. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing which one is actually holding up the process.

My recommendation is to write to BA using the contacts in the Company Contacts link above, with a short concise note explaining that you have tried to process this through the Travel Agent to no avail, and would like their assistance. Be sure to include a copy of the Death Certificate. Start with the webform contact, give them a week to respond before moving up to the first executive contact, giving them a week also before moving to the next. Hopefully one of them will get the process started.

Keep in mind any refund will go to the travel agent, since that is who the airline received the funds from. You'll then need to obtain the refund from them.

Please come back and let us know if your were successful. If not, be sure to keep your paper trail, and we can possibly then ask Chris to take a look at it.
Ana, I'm sorry to hear of your father's death. Realitoes is correct, this run-around needs to be dealt with in writing. British Air is headquartered in England, so the fact that they were travelling out of Romania shouldn't be a factor, unless there is a language problem with the travel agency. There may be a snag somewhere if the outbound flight was not officially cancelled. Compose a polite, concise email to BA customer service explaining the situation and asking for assistance. Use our Company Contacts if CS doesn't respond or if you don't like the answer. Submit to one executive at a time, and wait a week before moving on up the ladder. This method of communicating generally results in some action by the airline. Please let us know the outcome, and best of luck to you and your mother.
 
Oct 5, 2015
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This was done way before the first scheduled flight... I was advised that the ticket was nonrefundable, except for the taxes and the preferred seating, which the travel agency has kindly refunded.
I am not sure you (and others commenting) understood what you just wrote.
Your parent's travel agent must have cancelled their reservation and applied for a refund last November when your father was still alive. BA granted it, otherwise BA will not refund the taxes and seating fees at that time.

Come December, your father dies and you want a total refund. Ok for what? Your parents no longer have a ticket coupon to refund since they surrendered them last November.

The BA rep in Romania is correct in her interpretation of BA fare rules.
 
Aug 28, 2015
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I am not sure you (and others commenting) understood what you just wrote.
Your parent's travel agent must have cancelled their reservation and applied for a refund last November when your father was still alive. BA granted it, otherwise BA will not refund the taxes and seating fees at that time.

Come December, your father dies and you want a total refund. Ok for what? Your parents no longer have a ticket coupon to refund since they surrendered them last November.

The BA rep in Romania is correct in her interpretation of BA fare rules.
Good catch! It is true, the ticket was cancelled so by the time of the unfortunate death, your parents no longer had tickets. You can still write the contacts and make an appeal to compassion, however. Also, does BA not do refunds for serious illness? Is it possible they were inadequately refunded in the first instance?
 
Mar 4, 2015
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Even if the ticket wasn't cancelled, and even if the passenger passed away before the departure date, I can't find anything in British Airways' contract that promises a refund for a deceased passenger's ticket.

However, as Chris has written before, regardless of contract technicalities, when a passenger dies, the industry standard policy is to refund a ticket to the next of kin or to that person’s estate.

@Ana I. , I'm so sorry for your loss. Hopefully our Executive Contacts at British Airways will do the right thing if you email them and ask them to overrule the representative in Romania. We generally recommend writing to one contact at a time, and allow each contact a week to respond before appealing to the next executive contact, if necessary.

If they don't help you, I encourage you to circle back to let Chris know, as the airline would richly deserve some embarassing publicity in that case.
 
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Oct 5, 2015
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does BA not do refunds for serious illness? Is it possible they were inadequately refunded in the first instance?
Nope. They only return the Gov't Taxes and ancillary fees. It is written in their fare rules.
It's disgusting but many carriers have the same strict rules. If you don't buy insurance then you're SOL. By the way, I ticketed a family of 5 to India for more than $10K this morning. They added Travelguard Silver for $299 total. Now why won't people just buy travel insurance? I don't understand.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
Nope. They only return the Gov't Taxes and ancillary fees. It is written in their fare rules.
It's disgusting but many carriers have the same strict rules. If you don't buy insurance then you're SOL. By the way, I ticketed a family of 5 to India for more than $10K this morning. They added Travelguard Silver for $299 total. Now why won't people just buy travel insurance? I don't understand.
Me neither.
 
Mar 4, 2015
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Ana's parents are Romanian residents and therefore not eligible to buy TravelGuard products.

If they were US residents and eligible and happened to be, say, 75 years old, it would cost them about $800 for a Travel Guard Silver policy with $10k of cancellation coverage.

I checked a couple of websites that sell travel insurance to EU residents, and they generally required detailed medical history information. I entered some common conditions (high blood pressure, cholesterol). The only policy which offered $10k in cancellation coverage (for a 75-year old) cost £3,304.58.
 
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jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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Nope. They only return the Gov't Taxes and ancillary fees. It is written in their fare rules.
It's disgusting but many carriers have the same strict rules. If you don't buy insurance then you're SOL. By the way, I ticketed a family of 5 to India for more than $10K this morning. They added Travelguard Silver for $299 total. Now why won't people just buy travel insurance? I don't understand.
People who don't travel frequently literally don't know "what it's like out there" today in travel. They can't imagine that an airline would be so crass as to not refund a tix for someone who is dead or in the hospital. Heck, some people think they'll get a refund if they just don't feel like making the trip. The travel insurance industry needs an educational campaign of some sort, so the DIY travellers find out how important insurance is today.
 
Oct 5, 2015
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People who don't travel frequently literally don't know "what it's like out there" today in travel. They can't imagine that an airline would be so crass as to not refund a tix for someone who is dead or in the hospital. Heck, some people think they'll get a refund if they just don't feel like making the trip. The travel insurance industry needs an educational campaign of some sort, so the DIY travellers find out how important insurance is today.
There are times where I book tickets using the same online portals that consumers use (meaning not my Travel Agency GDS). I have to go through pages and pages of marketing stuff (e.g. cards, hotels, tours, cell phones, you name it) including declining travel insurance. I just bought some for my mother-in-law on Delta and sure enough I had to wade through so many offers. Now of course, you could buy tickets from a travel agent who forgets to offer travel insurance. But that is tantamount to the TA committing suicide if anything goes wrong. I still believe travel should be mandatory like car insurance. I think the cost will drop if it becomes mandatory.
 
Mar 18, 2016
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Nope. They only return the Gov't Taxes and ancillary fees. It is written in their fare rules.
It's disgusting but many carriers have the same strict rules. If you don't buy insurance then you're SOL. By the way, I ticketed a family of 5 to India for more than $10K this morning. They added Travelguard Silver for $299 total. Now why won't people just buy travel insurance? I don't understand.
Flywisely and Neil, while I appreciate your help, I feel you judge travelers too quickly and
from the american citizen perspective only. Buying traveler insurance for an American citizen for $99 + is indeed a no brainer. But, Romania is going through very tough economic times and it's one of the poor counties in Europe. After working all her life in a very respectable profession, my mom's pension is about $300. The pensions are some of the lowest in Europe, although the rest of prices for utilities and food are starting to get aligned with the rest of Europe. In the past, my parents saved for months to be able to pay for a trip to the States and most of the times, the family in the States still had to help. Simply put, Romania doesn't have the earning and buying power of UK or USA. The traveler insurance in the States is not available for Romanian citizens to purchase and buying a 1400 Euro travel insurance per person for my parents would effectively have ended the dream of coming over here on vacation. That is why some people don't buy traveler insurance.
Regarding the refund, I took the advise and wrote to the first BA executive on the list and attached a copy of the Death Certificate and Hospitalization Attestation for my dad. So far, no response, but I will keep everyone appraised. Thank you.