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British Airways won't refund ticket price for me to get home to bury my mother

Discussion in 'Airlines' started by Joyce, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. Joyce

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    My husband and I had travel plans with British Airways from Sept 22-Sept 30, originating in Boston through to Nairobi to visit our daughter who lives there. On Sept. 28, while in Nairobi, I received news that my mother had died. I am Jewish and had to get home and bury my mother within 48 hours. I contacted customer service at British Airways to change our flight from Friday the 30th to Wednesday the 28th. There were tickets available, but we were charged and additional $3356 each. I explained that this was not a new ticket, but a change. It was essentially the same flight, same cabin, just a different date. The agent said that there was nothing she could do unless I could provide a death certificate. I told her one hadn’t been issued as yet, that my mother had just died 20 minutes before and that I needed to get home within 48 hours, so I booked the ticket. I felt I had no choice. I cannot understand how this change in ticketing cost more than the original tickets that we bought. I had expected a change fee, but not more than the cost of an entirely new ticket.

    I have been in touch with British Airways about this since I have been home. Their answer to me was that unless I was able to produce a death certificate at the time of the booking, there is nothing that they could do. I explained that I was going home to bury my mother and could not produce a death certificate until after that. I asked, how could I possibly produce a document that had not yet been available? Their answer, again, was that there was nothing they could do.
     
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  2. Realitoes

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    Joyce,

    Unfortunately, many of the airlines have done away with bereavement fares over the last 20 years. British airways is one of them. At the most if you provide documentation they may waive the change fee, but you would still be responsible for the fare differences.

    When changing your ticket at the last minute, you normally have to pay the change fee, plus any difference in fare for a new ticket. A last minute ticket is normally much more expensive than one purchased in advance.

    I would recommend writing British Airways a nice, concise email explaining the circumstances using the contacts provided by this site to ask for consideration of a refund. Start with the customer service contact and work your way up the ladder, one at a time (give a week for each to respond).

    You may reach someone who is sympathetic and refund you some or all of the extra fare you paid.

    Good Luck
     
    #2
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  3. Patina

    Patina Moderator
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    To add to @Realitoes suggestion, if you are willing to accept travel vouchers for a future trip (to visit your daughter again!), ask for the additional fare amount paid in vouchers. The airline is more likely to part with those than with cash.

    The email addresses for BA's execs are in the Company Contacts link at the top of the forum.

    I am sorry for your loss.
     
    #3
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  4. JVillegirl541

    Staff Member Advocate

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    I am assuming that you have provided BA with copies of the official Death Cert in your earlier correspondence?
     
    #4
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  5. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    If you had travel insurance they have coverage for things like this. As Realitoes said, the airlines do not have bereavement fares anymore.

    It also is not just a change. There is also a change in the cost of the ticket vs. what you originally paid for your ticket. You have to pay the difference of what you paid when you booked your ticket vs. the price of the ticket the day you make the change. That's why there was such a huge price. It isn't simply a change in date.

    Travel insurance covers things like this. If you didn't have travel insurance, call the credit card company you used to buy your ticket and ask if they have any insurance with the card to cover this.

    But their statement that you needed a death certificate at the time you booked is ridiculous. The death certificates are issued well after that.

    We have company contacts on top of our pages. Find the contacts for BA and write to the first executive listed and send them the correspondence that said you didn't have a death certificate on the day you booked and tell him/her it wasn't even issued yet so how can they require that.

    Give him/her a week to reply. If you hear nothing or the answer is no, write to the next executive shown. Repeat weekly if you have to.

    Hopefully one of them will realize their statement makes no sense and help you.
     
    #5
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  6. Joyce

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    Thank you for your suggestions. My issue with their policy is that I was supposed to provide a death certificate before changing my flight. As a Jew, that was impossible. I did provide BA with the certificate after the funeral (on Friday). I was on the phone for hours with them. I sent them all the documentation they said they needed. I even tweeted them. And their response was there was nothing they could do.
     
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  7. Joyce

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    Thank You. I am hesitant to accept vouchers with this airlines as they were not flexible in anyway. My issue with their policy is that I was supposed to provide a death certificate before changing my flight. As a Jew, that was impossible. I did provide BA with the certificate after the funeral (on Friday). I was on the phone for hours with them. I sent them all the documentation they said they needed. I even tweeted them. And their response was there was nothing they could do.
     
    #7
  8. Joyce

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    Yes. I provided every piece of documentation they asked for.
     
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  9. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Joyce I agree with you. No one can hetba death certificate that fast. Use our contacts and start writing. Hopefully someone will come to their senses.

    If you get all the way the executive chain and still don't get anywhere we can refer you to the writers .
     
    #9
  10. Patina

    Patina Moderator
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    I completely understand. I, personally, wouldn't accept vouchers but some would so I thought I would throw that out there.

    Your best bet is to write, as others have suggested.........there are a number of customers who have used the Company Contacts link in the past for various companies, followed our suggestions and had success even in the most remote circumstances. One thing to remember: the person reading your email is not the one who denied your refund so please write in a manner that would entice them to want to help you. Being brief and polite is your best bet even if you have not received the same treatment from the airline. Good luck and let us know your progress.
     
    #10
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  11. Joyce

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    Thanks again, Patina. I will start sending another round of emails to the higher ups. I always try to be polite and brief, but thank you for the reminder.
     
    #11
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  12. Joyce

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    Thank you, I intend to start another round of letters/emails/tweets. FYI...I did tweet to Alex Cruz and never heard back from him.
     
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  13. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    We find email works best but start at the bottom of the executive chain and work up
     
    #13
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  14. Joyce

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    I have been in touch with my credit card company (Citi Cards). The representative could not have been nicer and more understanding. She told me that as a card holder, I qualify for 'trip interruption insurance'. All I need to do is send her the documentation and my money is refunded upon approval.

    Done. I am happy that CitiCard is responsive. I feel that they shouldn't have to bear the cost of this, but maybe who know? Maybe they'll get it back from BA.

    Thanks to all for your repsonses and suggestions. I am truly appreciative.
     
    #14
  15. Carrie Livingston

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    @Joyce what wonderful news. And as far as Citi picking up the costs, the insurance they provide is one of the benefits. And they recover the cost somewhere else in most cases for providing the service!
     
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  16. Joe Farrell

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    actually - even in a regular non Jewish / Islamic death ritual - no one is going to have a death certificate before traveling . . . . certified copies of these documents can take weeks - I'm sure most folks do not delay the funeral until everyone can get a copy.

    So I'm not sure what BA wants here . . . they are willing to refund a full price ticket if you send them a DC when you had a reservation the day later?

    I'd simply point out the conundrum that no one has a DC prior to travel for funerals.
     
    #16
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  17. Joyce

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    Yes. That is true. Unfortunatley BA doesn't follow any logic.
     
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  18. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Yay! Many times folks don't realize that their credit cards may offer some type of travel insurance. In the future, I suggest considering buying travel insurance. We never travel without it because you never know what can happen. I have an 87 year old father in law and we never know if something is going to happen and we need to get home quickly so it is worth it for us to buy a policy unless it is a really cheap flight - but then even a cheap flight can turn very expensive if you have to fly home early because the price of a last minute ticket is ridiculous as you found. So I may say "Ah, it's a $300 ticket, I don't need insurance" but if I have to fly home early and pay $1,000 as a walk up fare - I am screwed.

    But if it were me , I'd still be fighting BA on the principle because no one is going to have a death certificate to fly home for a funeral. The policy makes no sense.
     
    #18
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  19. Joyce

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    I'm not really sure if there is a fight any longer. I got a refund. I don't think BA would give me a refund knowing I've already got one from my credit card company. I will still let them know that this thread is active, though.
     
    #19
  20. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    You should probably contact your credit card company and tell them that you received payment from your travel insurance and to drop the dispute. It isn't right to get paid twice.
     
    #20

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