Did you think American Airlines would let you cancel your ticket if you had a family emergency like a death in your family, think again. Here’s an interesting account of what happened to one family who lost their daughter and how American Airlines handled it.
American Airlines Refuses To Refund Ticket After Death
Per the Economist,
“AFTER losing their nine year old daughter suddenly to an asthma attack, the Cantrell family from Illinois decided that they could not face going on the holiday they had booked. So they explained to American Airlines their tragic change of circumstance and asked whether they could cancel their tickets. American requested to see the death certificate, and then responded in the way that one would expect of any compassionate, customer-focused company: it refunded the ticket.
Eventually. In fact before it came to its senses, the story followed a well-worn and thoroughly depressing path. First the airline sent a letter to the family, saying it had no intention of returning the cost of the ticket:
After reviewing the documentation submitted, it has been determined the request does not meet our exception requirements. The ticket purchased is non-refundable so we cannot offer a refund, issue a travel voucher, or transfer this ticket to another person. The ticket will remain valid in our system for one year from the original date of issue, at which time it will expire and all value will be lost. […] As a one-time courtesy, authorization was documented in your reservation to waive the change fee assessed when a non-refundable ticket is changed. […] Your new ticket will be subject to any additional collection, if necessary, as governed by the applicable fares and fare rules in effect at that time.
The mother posted the letter on Facebook, social media poured opprobrium on the airline for its heartlessness, and the carrier swiftly backtracked. As soon it started to feel the heat, American announced that it had apologised and would refund the Cantrells. But not before its reputation, such as it is, had already taken a shoeing.
Shame on American Airlines for this, and for not doing the right thing the first time around. Consumers shouldn’t have to resort to social media to get action, but sadly it seems like this is becoming more commonplace these days.