My sister is in the ICU – can United Airlines keep my money?

When Patricia McConkey’s sister ends up in the intensive care unit, she has to cancel her cruise. Royal Carribean offers a full refund, but her airline pockets all of her money. Can it do that?

Question: My husband and I booked a Royal Caribbean cruise for last March. But before we left, my sister was taken to the intensive care unit and put on a ventilator. I have power of attorney, and the family was called in, and there was some decisions that I had to make.

On March 7th, I called both the cruise line and United Airlines, and asked for a refund. The cruise line refunded our fare (thank you, Royal Caribbean) but I just received an email from United saying it would not do anything for me.

They told me my ticket was non-transferable and non-refundable. I thought they might do something for me, considering that this was a medical emergency. Is there anything else I can do? — Patricia McConkey, Northfield, Ohio

Answer: I’m so sorry to hear about your sister. You could have certainly done without the additional stress of canceling your vacation and then worrying about a refund. It’s a good opportunity for your cruise line and airline to show some compassion.

It was exceptionally generous — and, I should add, highly unusual — for Royal Caribbean to offer a full refund under these circumstances. Normally, if you’re outside the cancellation window and you don’t have any travel insurance, you’re outta luck.
Nice work, Royal Caribbean.

I’m puzzled by United’s response. Normally, an airline would offer a ticket credit if you cancel a flight before leaving, which you did.

Related story:   Stop the presses! United Airlines removes a fee

In reviewing your paperwork, it seems United was confused by the fact that you were asking for a full refund, and after it rejected the claim, it also tagged you as a “no show” for the flight. In effect, you lost your entire airfare because of it.
United should have said, “No, but you can get a ticket credit” when you asked for a refund. It appears the airline sent you the wrong form response.

In a situation like this, you can appeal to the airline, but you have to know what to ask for. A ticket credit might have allowed you to use the money (minus a change fee and fare differential) on a re-do of your cruise, if you have the time for it. You can find the names of United’s customer-service managers on my site. Its email addresses are formatted as

I contacted United on your behalf. It offered you a full refund.

Should United have refunded Patricia McConkey's fare?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Note: If you leave a comment here, please also consider visiting this column on the Orlando Sentinel site and leaving a column there. As you know, I’m switching syndicates, and the Sentinel is on the line about renewing the Travel Troubleshooter. Every click matters. Every comment counts. Thank you!

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • Peter

    What’s the point of insurance if I can just have you mediate my unplanned cancellations?

  • TonyA_says

    I definitely agree with the article’s point about United’s customer service not being helpful enough to offer a one year certificate for the price of the ticket and cancelling the reservation when they knew she could not make the trip.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Seriously? Again?

    Non refundable means non refundable. Things happen to disrupt plans-that’s called life. There are a multitude of options she could have chosen to take advantage of, yet in order to save some money she decided not to. Now she believes she deserves special treatment and wrote to you in order to put the airline in an unfair PR situation.

    I’m already prepping for the “you have no compassion because you want customers to follow the policies they agreed to” comments.

  • Stereoknob

    The point of insurance is to fill in a bureaucratic loophole where a company can make refunds, customer service, and other things nearly impossible to navigate so that they can create a 2nd company supplying that insurance to increase revenues.

  • Jose L Cruz

    Life is not black or white, it is shades of gray. Both sides of the arguement are correct, should she have gotten travel insurance and/or bought a refundable ticket, certainly. Should she have received a full refund from both the airline and cruise line, certainly. It has nothing to do with rules, guidelines or even carriage contracts. It is all about doing the right thing.

  • Stereoknob

    So, a flight is delayed or cancelled due to an “act of god”. There may be a severe rainstorm in the final destination or severe wind on the ground. Will I get any compensation for the airline not delivering what I was told would be delivered? When I committed my money to an airline to fly, and by act of god I have a heart attack, or am struck by someone talking on the phone, or my mother falls down a flight of steps and I’m her only son – unless I’ve purchased insurance, I’m expected to be gouged on that non-received service?

    Can I sell the airline insurance where if they don’t deliver me to a destination on time, the insurance policy will pay me for that which at a minimum is an inconvenience and the airline wouldn’t be liable for that cost?

    Is companies can vote as people, why can’t they be held up to fair contracts like people are?

  • $16635417

    Well….there could always be legislation to mandate airlines refund tickets for sick people. Very easy to implement, just increase the fare to provide “free” travel insurance with each ticket purchased. This way, even though I would prefer not to buy it, I would have to. It could then be called a “tax”.

  • Wayne Dayton

    Travel insurance is not always the answer. I have had to fight tooth and nail in the past with intransigent insurance companies, and that’s an industry that could care even less about its corporate image than the airlines do. Insurance companies will literally give you the middle finger and laugh at a person near-death. When my condo destination in Grand Cayman was decimated in a hurricane, I was told that I couldn’t cancel my airline ticket because the airline was still operating…TFB if I had to sleep on the beach! It was the airline that refunded me the money, not RBC Insurance. A friend of mine had a policy with Manulife…and she ended up solving her own claim directly with the supplier to get an open credit for future use…but they still kept her premium (guess the CEO needed to use that money to go smoke crack with his buddy Rob Ford). See…suppliers DO have morals and ethics at times. Insurance companies are the manifestation of Satan on earth.

  • Kasiar001

    Why did you get involved in this? It basically says that those who purchase cancellation insurance are fools since a sob story can get it sorted. I am sorry about the situation with the sister but I am more sorry for all the money I have spent over the years, and will continue to spend, to protect my travel from just such a situation. Please spend your time on something more worthy where a consumer is wronged through no fault or omission on their part.

  • Thomas Ralph

    Should never have touched this, Chris. Why would people buy travel insurance, which would have covered this situation, if they can threaten bad publicity through yourself if the company doesn’t pay up?

  • Thoroughlyamused

    And which contract guarantees ontime performance? Oh wait, every COC specifically says schedules are not guaranteed.

    And if your flight is cancelled even for something like weather you can get a refund on the flight. WRT all your hypothetical situations, yes, you buy insurance to cover the unexpected. The airlines clearly display the rules of the ticket before purchase. You know all the facts going in. You can then make an educated decision to either buy insurance or save $50 and not buy insurance. Since you must affirmatively accept or decline insurance, by declining you are taking a calculated risk that if something happens, you may lose the value of the ticket. As someone who purchases travel insurance, I resent people who decide to cheap out, complain, and then receive the benefit of a service for free which I had to pay for.

    It’s easy to be generous with other peoples money. People who advocate “compassion” on here are doing just that.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    @elliottc:disqus, the story says that this happened last March, so that would be March 2013, right? I’m bothered that the “script” that the United rep used (either on the phone or in the email) didn’t include pointing out a credit of the ticket, subject to a fee and assorted rules.

    So, since it’s been a year, have you found this to be a trend? That is, are more people coming to you asking for a refund, without being offered a ticket credit? Or are less?

    If it is a trend, perhaps this is something that you can address with your contacts at United.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I once had a nasty cold and chose to take the flight anyway. I did my best to be polite to my fellow passengers but still, I was typhoid Mary.

    Do we WANT knowingly sick people traveling on planes? Isn’t the environment a germ breeding ground already?

    At a meeting at work, I suggested maybe I should wear a mask on the plane like Asians do and… an American woman turned me in to HR for saying racist things about Asians. Only in America… (I was implying that Asians had good ideas. Thankfully, I didn’t make the situation worse by mentioning I wear slip on shoes…)

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Not impossible to navigate. The ticket is advertised as non refundable. Why would you expect to get a refund on a non refundable ticket?

  • Joe_D_Messina

    In most cases I would agree, but in this one “non refundable” is sort of a red herring since they should have been granted a credit yet for some reason United never even offered that option. It’s impossible to know whether the letter writer would have been happy with that outcome or not, but it definitely should have been offered.

    This is a classic case of customer service not volunteering important information and hiding behind the flimsy excuse that since the word “refund” was used all they had to do was deny that without mentioning that their policies would normally grant a credit.

  • No, this is very unusual. It’s one of the reasons I took the case. United should have offered a ticket credit, at the very least.

  • MarkKelling

    Seems to be an issue with the limitations of the script. Customer asks for a full refund of a nonrefundable ticket. Script says the customer service rep should say refunds are not allowed on nonrefundable tickets. Question asked and answered. End of conversation.

    Many people would simply take this as is, grumble about it to their friends, and move on enriching the airlines. Unless you know the correct words to use in your request, in this case “credit for a future flight” not “refund”, the answer you get is what is in the script since the script readers working in customer service aren’t allowed to think outside the script. And why wouldn’t airlines construct their scripts this way?

    Glad UA decided to be flexible on this one.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Then, thank you for doing so. This is an older lady (okay, older than me), who may not be aware that things like bereavement fares and medical excuses are now a thing of the past. United should have escalated that original phone call to a supervisor to handle, since United’s missteps caused the OP to completely lose the value of her ticket.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Agree. I think the script – and the email – should have said something like “a refund is not possible with the type of ticket you purchased, but we can offer you a credit {insert limitations here}”. And, someone should have said, “Hey, are you going to take that trip? Should we cancel it for you, so you don’t show up as a no-show, and activate that credit?”

    Based on @Christopher Elliott:disqus’s response to my question (earlier today), I’m going to go with the charitable explanation that UA screwed up this time, rather than this being a planned way of preying on distraught customers.

  • emanon256

    Shame on United for not offering the future credit, they really should have that in their script. But I am mildly annoyed that they gave a full refund as well. It may sound selfish of me, but I have eaten the costs of several non-nonrefundable tickets when relatives have become sick. Often times the tickets were too cheap to re-use the credit after the change fee. When I buy non-refundable, that’s the risk I take. It’s not fair that others get a full refund in the same situation because they involve the media. What United should have done is extended the amount of time the OP could use the credit since they gave her the wrong info. Am I a jerk for thinking this way?

  • bodega3

    Sadly this is nothing new. When I sell travel insurance I always have told clients that the last thing the insurance company wants to do it pay out on a claim.

  • jerryatric

    AGREED. Buy cheap, no insurance & then cry for compensation. Can you say entitlement?
    When we travel we insure we are covered for health & trip problems

  • jerryatric

    Living in LA LA land! Since when does “doing the right thing” have anything to do with companies. They are in it for a profit!

  • Joe_D_Messina

    The only reason there are any limitations on the script is because United put those limitations there. Does anyone seriously believe it is an accident that the script about refunds doesn’t mention that credits are frequently allowed? Like nobody at United knew those two things are closely related and frequently discussed at the same time? Pretty transparent that the intent is to drag things along until a credit is no longer an option, at which point they get to keep all the money without providing any service to the customer.

  • Michael__K

    Why would you expect United to ignore its own policies? It’s United’s written POLICY to consider refund requests in this scenario…

    Refund request for nonrefundable tickets — unplanned event
    United will refund change fees and tickets in certain cases. All requests must be received prior to the ticket’s expiration date and must be accompanied by proper documentation (see “Documentation requirements and processing” below). We will refund tickets only when the unplanned event prevents the use of that ticket within one year of the ticket’s date of issue. In all other instances, the fare can be credited toward future travel, though the customer may receive a refund for flight change fees (see “Change fee refunds” below).

    If your refund request is approved, a refund, minus a $50 USD processing fee*, will be provided to the original form of payment. Refunds for purchases made with Gift Certificates will be provided in the form of electronic travel certificates.

    This policy applies in the following cases:

    Death of the traveler, traveling companion or immediate family member

    Travelers in the reservation actively on jury duty during the dates of planned travel

    Certain illness situations

    *Except where DOT 14 CFR Part 382 applies

    And even if they determined this wasn’t one of those “certain illness situations”, they should have offered the OP the option to receive a ticket credit.

  • LastBornNormal

    No. It is a classic case of the issue not being properly explained to customer service, and the customer expecting a full refund. Which part of non-refundable escapes you?

    What the customer should have done is asked “what can be done”? Instead they demanded a refund, told no, then they were a no-show. The customer loses and has no recourse

    Sure the moral thing is for the airline to offer, at a minimum a deep discount on a future flight, or other form of compensation. But a refund? No.

  • Michael__K

    Non refundable means non refundable

    Actually, United’s own policies document exceptions:

    Refund request for nonrefundable tickets — unplanned event

    United will refund change fees and tickets in certain cases. All requests must be received prior to the ticket’s expiration date and must be accompanied by proper documentation (see “Documentation requirements and processing” below). We will refund tickets only when the unplanned event prevents the use of that ticket within one year of the ticket’s date of issue. In all other instances, the fare can be credited toward future travel, though the customer may receive a refund for flight change fees (see “Change fee refunds” below).

    If your refund request is approved, a refund, minus a $50 USD processing fee*, will be provided to the original form of payment. Refunds for purchases made with Gift Certificates will be provided in the form of electronic travel certificates.

    This policy applies in the following cases:

    Death of the traveler, traveling companion or immediate family member

    Travelers in the reservation actively on jury duty during the dates of planned travel

    Certain illness situations

    *Except where DOT 14 CFR Part 382 applies

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Nope. Thought that myself. Wait – maybe that makes us both jerks!

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Agree with your reasoning, which is why I asked CE if this was a trend. His negative answer to me indicates that this may have been a mistake, rather than a deliberate business decision.

  • AJPeabody

    There is also the distinct possibility that the system is intentionally set up to avoid follow-on information and added questions in order to hasten throughput and save money.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Yep, thought of that, too.

    I’m having decidedly cynical thoughts today.

  • twres

    Of course companies are in it for a profit. They have to make money in order to continue conducting business. Wanting to make money does not necessarily equal greedy.

  • sunshipballoons

    I think the ticket credit would have been a fair resolution from United.

  • TonyA_says

    Yes this Michael_K post gets the Tony A (airline apologist) seal of approval :-)

  • TonyA_says

    We could simply extend obamacare to travel health insurance

  • TonyA_says

    Very true :(

    In fact in the OPs case, they would probably only cover the change fee is there was any.

  • TonyA_says

    You know after all these years, we still have write down some travel tips and make them accessible on Elliott’s website. Jeanne, I wish you can spearhead the effort. I will help you.

  • Stereoknob

    So, how exactly do I write up my own contract and have the airline agree to it where they’ll provide the service I’ve contracted them to? If the seat is broken, I want $50 back. If the airline attendant doesn’t come by 3 times within a 5 hour flight, how do I get my refund? It’s just a one way street and thats my issue.

    They say, you read the rules and therefore you agreed. And I get it, rules are rules. And if I don’t agree, I have no choice. I can’t see my dying mother or neices graduation from preschool. It’s just the average life of someone who isn’t a CEO making $10 mil a year on the backs of the overworked and undervalued employees treating the customer as sheep.


  • We are going to install Vanilla Forums, which let you do that. It’s at the top of my very long to-do list.

  • TonyA_says

    Count me in, Jerk #3
    However, I’m glad she got a refund due to the aggravation.

  • TonyA_says

    Maybe she got routed to an overseas call center and got an underpaid rookie agent.

  • Michelle Norton

    Should is the operative word here. Had the OP been able to prove her claim with documentation, then I believe that the airline SHOULD have offered a ticket credit. Did they HAVE to? No. I think that’s the point of having people work customer service. if every service question had only black and white answers, computers could do it. Also, I tried to post on the Orlando page but for some reason it wouldn’t let me free form on the ‘comment here’ section.

  • Travelnut

    I think it’s probably: Process goes the way it should (the credit is offered straight off) = pax gets the credit. Process goes awry, pax is misinformed and hence loses all of the money, pax tries to resolve with United and is unsuccessful and is forced to use a syndicated ombudsman = I think she’s entitled to be recompensed for all of the hassle. I think the differential is $250.

    I must say that UA came through for me a few months ago in not charging me a change fee when my sister died and I had to rearrange my flight arrangements to go to BWI instead of MIA. But I think I lucked out there.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    “Consider” does not mean “definitely will happen.” She submitted a request to United for a full refund. They denied her request and it is 100% their right to do so. Also, how does her sister being in the ICU prevent the OP from traveling for a full year? Maybe if the OP was suffering from a life threatening illness, but her sister suffering from said illness does not necessarily prevent the OP from flying. And even if it did, United will consider a refund, which is not guaranteed.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    You don’t write your own contract. The airline has the obligation to get you to your final destination. If they get you there late, then too bad. Late flights happen. Cancellations happen. Yes, the contract is written by the business so of course it’s going to be written in their favor. You do not HAVE to do business there, but if you choose to, you don’t get to set the rules.

  • Michael__K

    Your statements are not supported by Chris’ article.

    The OP was never even asked for the documentation that would be needed before her request could be approved or denied. She also was never offered a ticket credit.

    According to Chris, “It appears the airline sent you the wrong form response.”

    Also, as Carver has pointed out before, companies can’t arbitrarily deny these requests at their whim–

    there is a prohibition against illusory promises in a contract[…. ] The question is, under what terms will [company] grant the request. In such a scenario, [company] will still be bound by its own internal and customary procedures. It is unlikely that [company] will have complete discretion even through it says “may”. So, odds are, [company] is still under a legal obligation…


  • Cybrsk8r

    Ordinarily, I’d agree. But if United told him he could not get a ticket credit, then, when he didn’t take the flight, labeled him a no-show and then refused a ticket credit on that grounds, that sounds a little hinky to me.

  • Cybrsk8r

    So how late is late. Four hours, six hours, two days, two months? At what point does the airline fail to deliver what’s contracted for?

  • Mark Carrara

    Civilization has existed for thousands of years without airlines. If you don’t like the contracts, don’t fly. Personally I think they are illegal and against the public good so should be invalid, but I’m not a judge or even an attorney. So I only fly when I absolutely have to, like my planned trip to Honolulu this summer. In that case I bought trip insurance. Now if some unforeseen event happens(like a sister in ICU), I’m covered. I could have save the cost of insurance and taken my chances, I usually do with short flights, but the cost of this trip was too large of a risk.

  • Cybrsk8r

    You got that right. Don’t EVER trust a company to do the right thing.

  • IGoEverywhere

    What is it about non-refundable that is so difficult to understand? Luck and compassion do fall into the emergency logical end of things, but the rules are still there. I too applaud RCCL for their generocity, but would never have condemned them if they had said tough luck. This again proves the point that nobody is immune from an emergency, get travel insurance; do not depend on Christopher to bail you out.

  • emanon256

    I am so sorry about your sister. UA does state on their website, though it isn’t in the COC, that in the event of a direct relatives death they will waive the change fee.

  • IGoEverywhere

    Yoou have no right to issue a contract as you are using the airline’s services. (good, bad, or ugly) The airlines are out of control and Ralph Nader needs to re-activate the airline hate squad and sue them into re-regulation.

  • Annie M

    Another crybaby who didn’t purchase insurance and wanted special treatment. Hope they consider travel insurance next time . But why should she since she got all her money back.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    “On March 7th, I called both the cruise line and United Airlines, and asked for a refund.”

    My original statement was that she had asked for a refund. This is consistent with what it says in the story. Do you think she didn’t explain herd personal circumstances at all during the initial refund request? Somehow I have a feeling she brought it up.

    You also conveniently chose to ignore the 2nd part of my argument. United says they will CONSIDER giving a cash refund IF the unplanned event will prevent travel for a year. How does her sister being in the hospital prevent travel for a whole year? Her not planning to take a trip in the next year currently does not prevent her from traveling.

    WRT Carvers remarks, can you prove that United’s SOP is to refund tickeTS when a relative is sick? A handful of exceptions here and there does not mean its SOP.

  • Michael__K

    Your original statement was “Non refundable means non refundable”

    Then you back-tracked to “She submitted a request to United for a full refund. They denied her request and it is 100% their right to do so…

    Of course, requests cannot be submitted by phone. And she should have been offered at least a ticket credit per United’s contract terms. And you don’t know United’s SOP yet YOU proclaimed they could do whatever they want…

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I waited until I got back home to pull my copy of “How to be the World’s Smartest Traveler” off the shelf to see if any of that is covered in the book. I figure I should defer to the expert. Lots of stuff on non-refundable tickets, especially pp. 135 – 136, etc. But you know, there’s nothing in there specifically about bereavement fares no longer existing. There’s a little about medical emergencies, but there is a generic section on p. 131 about “Most Tickets Come with Lots of Limitations” that sorta, kinda addresses the change fees.

    I’d be happy to help organize/sort/edit addenda to the book as part of the forums feature @elliottc:disqus mentions in response to your comment. I’d like to direct traffic to his book, though, since a) this is his site; and b) he needs to pay his bills.

  • $16635417

    And since it could be considered a “tax”, if the transparency bill goes through, the airlines don’t need to quote it in the initial fare, it could be added to the total later.

  • TonyA_says

    Oh I was thinking in the context of a wiki help format.
    I imagine someone who has to rush to a hospital is not going to barnes and noble and look for Chris Elliott’s book.
    Maybe they can simply go to a searchable wiki formatted data here and get the information they need.
    Finally we can ask them to donate like $10 with a simple paypal link if they found the information helpful.
    Just my 2 centavos.

  • TonyA_says

    ROFL. Fantastic. What else can we add? More legroom due to cramps? I bet we can load up the bill.

  • TonyA_says

    He’s back. google this NYT article by Joe Sharkey

    The Value of Unused Tickets? Airlines Won’t Say

  • Bill___A

    I’m sorry her sister was in ICU. However, let’s just abolish travel insurance altogether. After all, the airlines and cruise lines are expected to refund anyway. Maybe all of the passengers on this cruise and flight who did have travel insurance should have it refunded, since it is obviously a moot point.

    Maybe there could be another site, could call it “Elliott’s List”. It could list all of the people making claims, the companies they are making claims for, whether they had travel insurance and how much they got.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am very sorry to hear that the woman’s sister was in intensive care. My credit card has cancellation insurance. Is it that much difficulty to use a card that offers this?

  • Thoroughlyamused

    YOU don’t know what United’s SOP is either. Your entire argument rests on the interpretation of a completely different situation made by ONE attorney. Unless you’re a lawyer, you should probably stop making assumptions about what United is or is not required to do. If you go strictly by what is written on their website they weren’t required to issue a refund in this situation. Therefore, the burden is on you, not me, to prove that United is engaging in “illusory promises.” A comment made by one attorney on a totally different situation does NOT do that. Especially when said attorney uses vague terms, like “it is UNLIKELY…” Aka not a sure thing.

    And you still haven’t answered the 2nd part of the argument, probably because it doesn’t fit into your mindset of “the customer is always right in every situation regardless of facts.” Why does her sister being sick prevent her from traveling for a year? This is required for United to even consider offering a cash refund, according to the document YOU posted.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    I still stand by my original statement. Non refundable means non refundable. You said my statements were not supported by CE’s article. There was nothing in the article about the fund policy. You posted the rules claiming that United is required to consider the request, and I pointed out that the customer had already requested a refund. You should look up the dictionary definition of “consider.”

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    True dat (channeling Raven). I’m thinking of the vast number of people who aren’t in the circumstance described by the OP. My guess is that anyone in an emergency situation is going to get on the phone, since you can carry one of those around with you at the hospital, etc. whereas computer access is more limited.

    Chris had a series of articles a couple of years back on how to rent a car, so that would be handy to dust off. If memory serves (and it’s late and it’s not been an especially good day) he offered it as a downloadable document as a premium for his other book, Scammed. Right? So, maybe this would be a similar deal – buy the new book and the addenda come along for free. Rick Steves has updates to books that occur after they’ve been published, and I think Fodor’s (???) does too. Why not Chris Elliott?

  • Travelnut

    Thanks, Emanon. January was a rough month. I’m sure you’re right, but I never know what I’m going to get when talking to our overseas friends. And this was right in the middle of the huge freeze where all the flights were cancelled. I was on hold for over and hour and the guy I talked to sounded pretty frazzeled.

  • bodega3

    She is one lucky traveler to get everything back that she paid for on this trip. I am guessing that the OP didn’t print out the rules of the fare for future reference since it appears that she booked the air separate from the cruise line. The rules of most fares state that you must cancel your reservation prior to departure time or forfeit the full amount of the ticket. If, when she called General Reservations, she got India or the Philippines, they won’t ask questions or provide additional information. You have to know what to ask…never use to be this way! Fortunately TA’s have a US office to call…THANK YOU United for bringing it back!

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Al long as I get what I paid for, I’m happy. Life’s too short for me to worry that someone else might have gotten more than they paid for. Nothing to do with me.

  • Mundane Lustrator

    So you’re mad and dismissive because the McConkey “got something for free” that you paid for by buying insurance?

    Sour grapes.

  • Kathleen Chase Thompson

    What really makes me angry here is that these people booked an expensive vacation and DID NOT PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE yet Royal Caribbean refunded them and they expected United to also! I pay $100’s (over the years $1000’s) for travel protection on very expensive trips…..
    I feel bad about the medical emergency this family is dealing with but this is why you BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE …..
    Had RCCL not refunded this same customer would be all over the internet screaming about a greedy Cruiseline and there are dozens of those stories out there from people who are doing just that because they too failed to protect their investment…
    No travel insurance = should equal no refund !!!

  • Stereoknob

    It’s not wanting to continue conducting business. It’s to keep raising publicly traded stock to gain more and more and more profit every year, never finding an equilibrium. It’s about lining the pockets of the already rich. You don’t have to grow into a giant, soulless scourge to be “successful”.

  • Name

    Had a similar experience with Virgin Atlantic when I had to cancel a trip due to illness and didn’t know when I could rebook. The agent did not explain all my options to me, she just said they would refund my money. Best solution for me would have been to keep my money and apply it to the new booking which I was able to make a couple of months later. But I was never given that choice. It took months for the refund to come through and I was really worried about losing several thousand dollars.

  • Name

    After a couple of cancelled trips, I’ve started buying flight insurance from United …. it’s very reasonably priced. Haven’t had to use it yet; has anyone had any experience with UA’s flight insurance?

  • I’ve been reading this blog for years, but the endless stream of “I bought a non-refundable ticket, I didn’t buy any insurance and now I want all of my money back” articles has definitely impacted how often I visit. These stories simply aren’t interesting.

  • omgstfualready

    Agreed! I come maybe once a week or so… will keep declining unfortunately.

  • Michael__K

    Funny, I didn’t proclaim a single thing that you attribute to me. I quoted United’s policies which make it clear that at least a ticket credit applies to this situation if not a refund.

    You proclaimed (direct quote) (“They denied her request and it is 100% their right to do so.“). Yet according to Chris’ article, no proper request was even filed (much less do you know all the illness circumstance details) and no ticket credit was ever offered before Chris intervened… And you think the burden is on me to disprove your baseless claims?

  • Thoroughlyamused

    There’s nothing like knocking down a poorly constructed argument, especially first thing on a Monday morning. Thanks for the chance :)

    I’m not arguing that she shouldn’t have received a ticket credit. Ticket credit does not equal refund. You claim that a refund was never requested. I suggest you re-read the article: the OP says she requested a refund on March 7th. I then made the statement that United denied her refund and it was 100% their right to do so. If you go strictly by what it say on United’s website (ie the word CONSIDER) then my statement is correct. You then tried to argue that United did not have that right, and used a comment made by an attorney several weeks ago to make the argument that United should be legally bound to issue a refund. Since the United website says they are under no obligation to issue a refund, the burdens on you to prove that it’s SOP at United to issue a refund AND that United is engaging in illusory promises.

    And you still haven’t bothered to respond to the point I’ve brought up multiple times, which is posted in the excerpt from the United website that YOU posted. How does her sister being in ICU prevent her from traveling for a year?

  • Michael__K

    All you’ve done is put words in my mouth (as well as make baseless claims of your own).

  • Thoroughlyamused

    You still haven’t answered my question Michael. How does her sister being in ICU prevent her from traveling for a year? Which, BTW, is the criteria for receiving a refund, in the excerpt YOU posted.

  • Michael__K

    I’m not privy to medical and caregiving circumstances that aren’t discussed in the article and I don’t pretend otherwise.

    There’s a strong possibility that her circumstances merited a ticket credit and not a refund and I don’t pretend otherwise.

    What we know is that she got neither a refund nor a ticket credit and was considered a “no-show” before Chris intervened.

Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.