An unexpected health crisis leads to a lost honeymoon. Can we help?

Larry Bonistalli is a determined father. When his son’s fiancée suffers a sudden stroke right before their wedding and honeymoon, Bonistalli resolves to retrieve the money that the couple spent on the uninsured trip. Can we help him with this quest? Should we help?

Question: I am writing on behalf of my son. In late August he and his fiancée booked a European honeymoon to Greece (Santorini and Mykonos). Since then, his 29-year-old fiancée had a stroke. She can’t travel. We have the medical document from her team of doctors. I am working with American Airlines and, after several tries, I think we will get a full refund.

With medical expenses and not knowing the future, my son needs all of these flights and hotels to be refunded. So far, the hotels have already refunded.

The problem is that the Greek commuters to the Islands (Aegean and Olympic) won’t respond. They were booked through Expedia and Priceline. These airlines simply do not care and the booking agents are not helpful at all. Between the two, it’s another $700. My son could really use this money for all the expenses that he now faces. Could you help me? Larry Bonistalli, Naperville, Ill.

Answer: As you may know, we typically don’t advocate third-party requests for help — except in rare cases which have aspects that point to a need for the additional “helper.”

Each week we field a multitude of requests for assistance. Invariably, a small portion of these are well-meaning parents who are contacting us on behalf of their adult children. In most of these cases the “kids” are described by their parents as being simply “too busy” to handle the problem on their own. That’s not exactly a compelling argument for our team to take a case.

Sometimes the parent pretends to be the adult child. The big reveal usually happens when the consumer is unable to provide the actual facts of the case. These types of requests end up wasting our time and the time of the over-involved parent. No one benefits.

But when I read your request for help, it was clear that your case fit into an entirely different category.

It is completely understandable that your son can’t focus on this monetary problem right now — he has much bigger things to worry about.

Knowing that it would be exceedingly difficult to obtain refunds if the dates of the trip passed, you sprung into action to help your son.

With careful planning, this young couple had booked their honeymoon on their own. Unfortunately, most parts of their journey were nonrefundable, and they had neglected to purchase any trip insurance.

When I reviewed your paper trail, I was amazed by the refunds that you had already secured for your son.

There is no doubt that you are a proficient advocate.

Using much of the How to write an effective complaint letter guidance that can be found in the FAQs on our site, you methodically wrote to each involved company.

Your emails were concise, polite and fact-based, and they acknowledged that you were asking for a compassionate consideration — not anything that was owed to your son. Lastly, you attached the supporting medical documentation.

Your letters were as close to perfect as I have seen.

American Airlines and both hotels in Greece responded to you affirmatively. Unfortunately, you hit a stumbling block when you reached out to Aegean and Olympic Airlines.

In fact, you received no response at all.

And when you asked Priceline and Expedia for assistance, your initial requests were rebuffed.

But bolstered by your other successes, you didn’t give up. Using our company contacts for Expedia and Priceline, you sent your letter to other executives within the companies.

You finally reached someone at Priceline who agreed to refund the Aegean Airlines tickets.

That left only one holdout on your list: Expedia.

You asked if I could help with this final hurdle. I contacted Expedia and described your ongoing pursuit and explained why a refund (and not a voucher) would be particularly helpful to your son and his fiancée.

The resolution team at Expedia also had compassion for this terrible, unexpected event and agreed to the refund.

In the end, through a variety of means you were able to retrieve all of your son’s prepaid expenses. But it wasn’t easy, and your time certainly could have been better spent focusing on your family during this difficult time.

This situation is one that points to the importance of trip insurance — even for young people. Unexpected calamities and illnesses can happen to anyone. Trip insurance can make a terrible situation a little less troublesome by at least removing the threat of a financial loss of a canceled vacation.

We wish your son’s fiancée continued improvement, and we hope that someday soon this couple will be able to enjoy the wedding and honeymoon that was originally planned.

Share this story
Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Enterprise Holdings

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.