Sick at the airport, so why won’t Airberlin refund my ticket?

airberlin, flight, travel, airline, airplane, air, vacation, plane

After an unexpected medical emergency, Osmar and Aracely Alvarez ask their airline for a refund. But Airberlin defers to their travel agent. Can anyone help this couple?

Question: I booked two round-trip flights through ExploreTrip from Miami to Copenhagen on Airberlin. When I was returning to Miami, after we passed immigration and we did the check-in, my husband was feeling sick.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance. Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

He started with nausea, vomiting, he was horribly sick. We called the airport’s escort service to bring a wheelchair for him. The employee of the airport called a doctor that is in service at the airport. The doctor recommended we postpone our trip, due to the length and the connection. We did.

My husband continued vomiting and was in a really bad situation. A few days later, after he was well enough to travel, I checked with the ticket desk at the airport to try to make another reservation for two or three days later, but Airberlin didn’t have any flights available. We bought a ticket on another airline and returned home.

When we asked Airberlin for a refund, it explained they can’t give a refund because my tickets were not booked directly with them, but ExploreTrip. Can you help me? — Aracely Alvarez, Dade, Fla.

Answer: Airberlin should have quickly refunded your flight. You showed up at the airport with every intention of boarding the plane and were told by a medical professional not to fly. This is the first time I can remember someone getting sick at the airport and not being able to travel.

Airberlin should be grateful to you, your husband and the doctor in Copenhagen. Had it insisted you fly, your husband may not have survived the flight back to the States.

When you cancel a flight under extraordinary circumstances like this, you need to note a few names, at the very least. The attending physician, the supervisor at the counter, or anyone who helped you. This detail will help you pull together a more complete paper trail, should you need to.

You shouldn’t have needed to — and indeed, a closer look at the correspondence between you and Airberlin suggests there’s a good reason it wanted you to contact ExploreTrip, your travel agency. Airberlin had refunded your airfare as a gesture of goodwill.

Your next step was ExploreTrip, your online agency. Let’s have a look at its terms and conditions.

Refund reserves the right to determine the amount of refund value incase of cancellation and amendments. The decision on the quantum of refund will be final as that made by . The refund will be made in the name of the client. In case you have booked through the Travel Agent or a Franchisee still we will make the refund in the passenger’s name. It will take at least 45 days to process refunds for all services. There will be no refund for unutilised services unless specified. All cancellation and amendment charges will be applicable as per principles policies [sic] on which has no control and you will be subjected to it.

In other words, they may have your money, but they can keep it if they feel like it. So you must ask the company for a refund, otherwise it will keep your money from Airberlin. Tricky, huh?

I’ll save you the trouble. Our advocacy team contacted ExploreTrip on your behalf. The agency refunded the $896 for your return tickets.

16 thoughts on “Sick at the airport, so why won’t Airberlin refund my ticket?

  1. This is an interesting case. They did make the effort to and AirBerlin should have been thankful the husband didn’t get in the flight- he could have infected a lot of people. Glad you were able to intervene for a refund.

      1. read again – AB refunded, but the AGENCY who issued did not – I advocate for my clients all the time when they do not have a leg to stand on – and I ALWAYS refund the amount. OTAs really are sad.

      1. no – if you agree to their terms, you accept them — what these folks need to STOP doing is booking with these blood-sucking OTAs. As an agent, I would NEVER consider keeping your money

  2. Use a travel agency, book directly, what do you do? It seems like either method has potential for getting screwed over. Should we use only brick-and-mortar travel agencies (I wouldn’t know where to find one anymore) when booking an international trip?

    1. yep – and there are more of us all the time. A true travel agent (not an OTA) is your advocate, and believe me, I would NEVER think of pocketing your money if you are entitled to a refund – in fact, I know that if you are a happy camper, you will come back to me – and send your friends!

  3. I once had to change flights because I got sick — and it was after boarding the flight, a sudden bout of food poisoning, I’d guess from something I ate at the food court while waiting for the flight. On top of that, it was the second flight after connecting (SFO-EWR-LGW).

    Good thing it was back in 1991, Continental handled the situation well, I spent a day recovering, and flew out to London the next day.

  4. If the correspondence revealed that AirlBerlin did issue a refund and it was the travel agent that required prodding from you, then why is the headline placing the blame on the airline?

    AirBerlin did what you would want them to do in this case. They should not be slammed by a misleading headline. The blame falls solely on ExploreTrip, their travel agent. Not the airline.

    1. However, the Alvaraz’s did NOT know that Air Berlin made a goodwill gesture and refunded the money for the tickets to the travel agency where they purchased them. They wanted their tickets refunded. They just did not understand what needed to be done. One of the pitfalls of purchasing through some of these online agencies. There are so many things to try to keep up with that it is no wonder why we see all these travel issues all the time. But, that is why Chris is here and he and his group help the vast majority of those who seek his help!

  5. Another excellent example of the folly of booking air through an OTA. Book directly with the airline, people. Or better yet, on anything complex, use an experienced travel agent to assist you. The small fee they charge for booking a tix is well worth it, as they can assist you in many ways.

  6. the statement

    “Had it insisted you fly, your husband may not have survived the flight back to the States.”4
    No way of knowing this.

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