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Unused Tix Due To Funerals And Change Fees

Fri Feb 05, 2010 4:32 pm

Hi there,
I just wanted to share this with you so you will have this info if needed one day.
Recently I had to cancel two tix due to a family funeral; one DL international and one UA domestic. Both companies promise to waive the change fee using different ways. Again I am not sure if this is possible for "any funeral" you attend or it needs to be "close family". In my case it was close family.

-DL, put the amount spent on the ticket on hold for a year, good for another ticket. The agent on the phone during the process asked me the funeral homes' name and phone number/date of the funeral and name of the deceased. She said all this info is in the computer and will pop up next time I need to make a reservation. Well, not really. First call yesterday to DL and I ended up with an agent used to work for NW ( very obvious, since she kept saying here at NW... I mean DL) and she didn't know the details, couldn't find the note under my name. After 35 minutes she said she can't waive the fee, I need to go to a DL city or airport office for that. Second phone call, this time a more competent agent, fast, tried his best but the same result. So this morning I had to go all the way to midtown NY DL office and after showing the "death certificate" and the obituary, newspaper clippings,... the $250 change fee was waived. The difference between the original ticket price and the new one is given back to me in the form of an e-voucher for future travel. Great!

-UA again put the amount on hold for a year, and told me 2 weeks before I want to book another flight mail the death certificate to their address in Chicago. Let's see how that one goes when the time comes.

I wasn't expecting this service from these companies and sure it is nice for them to go the extra mile.
I hope some people find this helpful.
Posts: 490
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2001 6:34 pm

RE: Unused Tix Due To Funerals And Change Fees

Fri Feb 05, 2010 4:41 pm

Great to hear that things worked out for you.

Actually, in cases like these, you may need to refer to the fare rules. Some fares are refundable, others are refundable with a change fee and others are nonrefundable. In the latter case many airlines will allow you to cancel the ticket and use it for a future purchase if you pay the change fee.

What's the difference? Refundable means you get everything back. In theory anyway. In real life there are usually discrepancies by a few dollars as I have found that airlines have a tough time figuring out how to refund taxes. Refundable with change fee means that you will be charged a fee and then you will receive a refund (typically they will not allow you to just receive the refund less the change fee). As stated before, nonrefundable tickets are typically just that - nonrefundable. But in recent years many carriers have implemented a policy allowing customers to use the value of an unused an d properly canceled ticket to purchase a future ticket, typically requiring the return flight of the new ticket to occur within a year from the outbound flight of the original ticket. You will almost always have to pay the change fee right at the time you cancel your ticket though.

Many - but certainly not all - fares allow for change fees to be waived under certain conditions. Typical endorsements are "death or illness of passenger or [close] family member". But this policy varies a lot by fare type.

Finally, some nonrefundable tickets are refundable in certain situations such as death or illness as well. Once again, this depends on the fare a lot more than on the airline.

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