What part of non-refundable don’t you understand?

WUSA9.com is reporting the story of a woman with cancer who is unable to get a refund for an airline flight that she cannot take.  According to the story, the woman knew that she was buying a non-refundable ticket when she bought it.

As it turns out, the woman was to make a round-trip flight with four family members. So, five non-refundable tickets were bought.  Now, all five have decided not to make the trip, and the woman wants a refund for all five tickets.

So, how is the public reacting to the story? Well, in the story’s “comments” section plenty of people are defending the airline. In one comment, a former customer of the airline states the following:

US Airways took excellent care of my husband when we brought him home from WV back to SC – he had had a heart attack and bypass surgery while in WV on business. When I booked the tickets, the lady I spoke to at US Airways emphasized that if I bought the less expensive, non-refundable tickets and something happened to prevent us from taking those flights, we would be out the money – no refund. She made sure I understood that fully. We made a choice just like this lady and her family. I’m so sorry she is going through this but it is not US Airways’ fault.

I agree with the woman who made the above comment.  When my late wife was traveling back and forth to an out-of-state cancer center, I purchased non-refundable airline tickets because they were the cheapest tickets available. I did so knowing that I could not get a refund should something prevent my wife from flying. Thankfully, my wife was able to fly every time, with the last time taking place five weeks before she died. Had something prevented her from flying, then I would not have had just cause to request a refund for a flight ticket, even though my wife had a medical reason for making the flights.

In the case of the above-mentioned woman, the reason for her intended flight was so that she could take a vacation in Belize. On one hand, I don’t envy the woman’s ability to afford such a vacation. On the other hand, I feel no sympathy for her loss of vacation money because the money was spent on a luxury.  Besides, the rest of her family could take the trip without the woman, or the family could take their trip at a later time – and the airline would give them the ability to do so.

I have just one question for those people who support the woman’s position:

If the airline makes an exception for the woman, then where does the airline draw the line on making exceptions? Surely the airline has to draw the line somewhere. Otherwise the airline might as well as pull the plug on its non-refundable tickets.


[Feature image from sodahead.com ]

Story Update: Woman gets her refund.
"This is cause for reassessment"