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Condor Airlines - Company without a heart or soul?

Discussion in 'Airlines' started by Richard J, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. Richard J

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    I read an article on 8/9 about an individual fainting at the airport and losing their vacation. After being contacted by Elliott, the provided a refund due to the medical emergency. Sadly I have an almost identical situation. I have been researching to see if there is any alternative I have after our incident with Condor Airlines.

    We booked a non-refundable flight to Germany through Condor leaving on 7/11. The first leg was from DFW to Minneapolis with Sun Country Airlines. The next leg should have been from Minneapolis to Frankfurt with Condor and the final leg was with Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Nuremburg.

    As we stood in the TSA security line, my son suddenly collapsed and lost all control of his body. An ambulance was called and instead of flying we wound up having the EMTs check out my son with an eventual trip to the emergency room that day. This caused us to miss our flight, though I kept Condor apprised of our situation from the moment we had an issue.

    When I spoke with Condor they indicated the best they could do would be to book us on a similar flight on July 19th, which would arrive on the 20th with our return scheduled on the 25th. Clearly this was not feasible for a vacation for which we had saved for three years and for which we had paid Condor in excess of $4800.

    One of their phone reps provided an e-mail to which I could send a request for an exception of a refund along with documentation of the medical emergency, which I did. Unfortunately Condor's reply was I should have bought flight insurance with little if any empathy for our son's situation. I was refunded the airport taxes/fees but Condor still kept over $4000. Even though I cancelled the return flight on 7/12 which was to have flown on 7/25 and which I am sure they were able to fill, they refused even a partial refund or any voucher or credit for a future flight. Most maddening was that no one ever asked about my son's well being.

    Though Condor's response to both my requests referred to these being "cheap flights", $4000 for nothing is anything but cheap. Unfortunately our planned vacation in Germany turned into a vastly expensive medical staycation nightmare with a doctor's and cardiologist's follow up visit. Any help or suggestions you could provide would be greatly appreciated as I do not know where to turn next.

    It seems appalling to me that any industry can sell you something and, if you don't use it, sell it to someone else and keep your money. Imagine if doctors charged for surgery before you had it and if you didn't show up on time due to some emergency, kept your money and sold the spot to someone else. How many car dealers would be in business if you paid cash for a car but had to pick it up by a certain time and if you didn't, they keep your money and then sell it to someone else? If Condor honored my payment, the seats going to Germany should have been empty as I paid for them. If they put someone else in those seats they basically stole my money and kept it for providing nothing in return. As I informed them of the issue to cancel the return flight two weeks later, I'm sure they were able to fill those seats and got paid double by keeping my money for a service they did not provide. I can understand if they can't fill the seats (unlikely in high season) that they would need to charge you, but if the seats were filled they are essentially lining their pockets with free money at the expense of peoples misery and misfortune. Condor has shown no heart or soul but seems to be driven purely by cold, efficient profit. Shame on them. Any insight on anything I might be able to do for a refund would be greatly appreciated as our vacation budget was busted by this issue and we wound up staying home as we couldn't afford to go anywhere else.
    Richard V
     
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  2. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    It shouldn't be appalling because this is exactly why they sell travel insurance. If they didn't sell insurance, then it would be appalling that they don't offer a refund but every airline sells insurance and you can purchase insurance oj your own as well that offers even better coverage than the airlines.

    When you opt out if buying insurance, you are basically gambling that everything will go perfectly - and then when something like this happens it suddenly becomes the airlines fault. That isn't fair either, is it? If you didn't buy homeowners insurance and your house burned down who would you expect to pay for your home?

    Please note I am not unsympathetic to what happened but pointing out the airlines side - they get hundreds of stories like this a day.

    Also, when you book on small airlines like Condor that don't have a lot of flights going out daily - they don't always have another flight wth available seats and it might he several days to find a flight with empty seats.

    Can I ask why you booked a trip with so many stops in such small airlines? Were these all on one ticket or booked individually?

    We have a thread tacked to the top of the airline forum about getting refunds for non refundable tickets. I would suggest using that to try and work your way up to the CEO of the airlines and see if you can find one that might sympathize with the situation and help. This is an odd situation and an executive has a lot more pull than a customer service reps to say yes to your situation. Hopefully you will find one that has the sense that the executives in the story show.

    Let us know how you make out. I hope that they will make an exception for you.
     
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  3. Richard J

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    Hello Neil and thanks for your reply. I understand the part of insurance but it is hard to make an apples to apples comparison with other industries, such as housing. If I pay $200,000 for a house, I own it. If I want to protect the investment from disaster, I get insurance, but I still own the house. However I don't have to buy insurance to guarantee I'll occupy the property or fulfill some other obligation. The house is still mine. To make this an equal comparison one would have to say the seller has a clause in the house contract that says if you don't occupy the house within X days, I can re-sell it to someone else and keep your money.

    Be that as it may, if Condor had said, we couldn't find anyone to whom they could resell your seats, I would be much more than sympathetic to their side even under the circumstances of our medical emergency. However, if the seats were resold, any type of accommodation, considering the tragic circumstances, would certainly show the airline had a human side and it still would have lost nothing. I tried to make sure the airline was apprised through the entire process and cancelled the return flight nearly two weeks in advance. I also sent them the medical records to show we really did have a serious problem. We elected not to fly but could have dragged our ailing son to the gate where, upon seeing his condition, they might have told us we can't fly. I wonder if, in that situation, they then would have had to refund or rebook?

    The reason we booked the way we did was due to cost. These were the least expensive flights we could find. It was all booked through Condor. We don't normally travel to Europe frequently, though we have family there, and it takes a while to save up for the trip now that I have to pay full fare for my 12 and 14 year old. This is especially true because we have to fly in high season due to school.

    I appreciate the information and your well wishes and will post on the thread you suggested. In the event I have difficulty locating it, would it be possible to post a link. Thanks very much for the reply.
    Richard J
     
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  4. Richard J

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    Found the pinned thread but it only provides instructions on how to do a polite request continuing up the chain of CEOs hoping to find a sympathetic ear. It appears it is closed to new posts. How do I find the next person up the chain for Condor? I've corresponded with an individual in their customer service department twice. Once with the original request and a follow up, in German, asking for sympathy for our situation.
    Richard J
     
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  5. johnbaker

    johnbaker Moderator
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    @Richard J Using your example, if you close on your house, opt not to insure it against fire and a fire breaks out, the builder doesn't build you a new one for free or the previous owner have to give you your money back.

    If you have a concert ticket and you have a medical emergency as you walk up to the gate, you don't get to go to another one for free (at least most concerts).

    Good luck
     
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  6. krisseye

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    Richard, I'm sorry all of this happened to you. As a parent myself I can understand how harrowing this must have been. This is small comfort right now but it's a really good thing your son had his medical emergency on American soil. Because you didn't have travel insurance, had this happened in Europe, you would have been on the hook for all medical bills (assuming you don't have German medical benefits) and probably have spent a large portion of your vacation in a hospital.

    When you book plane tickets, there's always a risk of not being able to make the trip for whatever reason. There are a few ways to assign that risk.

    1. Make the airline assume the risk. Buy refundable plane tickets. That way, you'll get your money back no matter what.

    2. Assume the risk yourself. Buy non-refundable tickets and hope for the best but be willing to eat the cost if something goes wrong.

    3. Pass the risk to a third party. Buy non-refundable tickets and travel insurance. Travel insurance doesn't cover everything but you can off-load a huge portion of the risk.

    What you're asking for is the benefit of travel insurance without paying for it. There's nothing wrong with asking for an exception but just because the airline sticks to the terms of your agreement doesn't make it the bad guy.
     
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  7. Richard J

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    True John, but then I owned something I chose not to insure and my tangible asset is then gone. I still own the land it sat on, so I don't have a total loss. It is really hard to find another exact real life analogy. With the concert, yes I lose out but those seats remain vacant. The concert venue doesn't track who doesn't show up and resell the seats. In the event I get sick two weeks in advance, I can re-sell my tickets to someone else as they are mine to do with as I wish as I bought and paid for them. With the airline, even if you let them know you aren't able to fly two weeks in advance, you can't sell your tickets to anyone else, but they can.
    Richard
     
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  8. Richard J

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    I appreciate your thoughts krisseye, and we would never have risked flying with the my son's condition as his health is the most important thing. If I wind up having to eat this as a loss, so be it, at least he is fine now. It will be a very expensive lesson to have learned and I can see if the airline wasn't able to fill the seat, they shouldn't be out the money due to my misfortune. However if they did fill the seats, then a refund wouldn't really hurt their bottom line as the same seats were paid for twice. I think this last part is what really makes me wonder about the non-refundable ticket issue.
    Richard J
     
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  9. Richard J

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    If I want to continue to go up the chain of command at Condor. Does anyone know where to go to next if customer service has refused?
    Richard J
     
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  10. Christina H

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    Richard J I hope your son is better and that he has no lasting health problems.

    It is almost certain that Condor could not sell the outbound flights as they were cancelled the day of the flight. Did they resell the return tickets for two weeks away? Maybe maybe not. Condor is geared to budget leisure travel and most of those travelers book far in advance for intercontinental trips. That is why they could not get you on another flight for so long. Business travelers tend to book on Lufthansa because of the airline having numerous intercontinental flights.

    When a traveler buys the most restrictive ticket -- a use it or lose it -- there are some risks associated with that. The traveler needs to decide whether to buy travel insurance or to self insure -- i.e. deal with the loss themselves. This is the nature of the transport industry, whether a plane, train, or bus. You took the gamble and lost. From the airlines perspective how is this their problem? I often do not buy travel insurance but I mitigate that by buying more flexible tickets that can be changed or partial credit/ refund received and I book refundable hotels.

    When you write to the company you should be polite and respectful. You are asking for an exception. Germans are very big on travel insurance and tend to buy it for all trips so the customer service people may not understand why it was not purchased. Do not mention reselling of seats or anything about stealing your money or use comparisons to other industries.
    The term used by others here is artfully begging (and it is so appropriate). Follow the advice on how to move up the chain and hopefully you will have a positive resolution.
     
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  11. krisseye

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    I had my own business (but not in travel) for 20 years and I'll try to explain (what I think) is the airline's side. Non-refundable flights are cheap because they know that some people aren't going to show up and they can sell the seats twice. That's all factored into the pricing already. That's why refundable seats are so expensive. They know that the likelihood of refunding those seats are relatively high. That's also factored into the pricing.

    Refunding is a bigger financial hit to the business than people think. If my business runs a 10% profit margin (and many businesses don't) if I even give a 10% discount I'm only breaking even on that sale. So if I refund (and in travel the product is perishable so once the plane takes off, they don't get that seat back) not only have I wiped out my 10% profit but I've also wiped out the 10% profit from 9 other passengers. This is highly simplified but I hope it gives you an idea what it's like from the business side.

    Now in 20 years, I never turned down anyone who asked nicely for a favor. I was especially nice to those who acknowledged that I didn't owe them anything =).
     
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  12. JVillegirl541

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    @Richard J thank goodness this happened prior to boarding your flight and that your son is now fine!
    If you purchased your Condor tickets with a credit card you may actually have Travel Insurance you are unaware of. Have you contacted your credit card provider to see if the cards Travel Benefits cover any of your loss? You have a very small window to claim those benefits so call right away. Note that the normal Customer Service representatives may not be the proper dept to get accurate information regarding Benefits that are attached to your credit card.
     
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  13. Richard J

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    Thanks all for the information and the replies. First, my son appears to be fine. We've had him checked out at the emergency room, the pediatricians and with a cardiologist. The conclusion is that due to his super rapid growth these past few months, along with a meager breakfast, getting up super early and being a bit dehydrated, he had a momentary lapse of blood flow to the brain which caused his collapse. Nothing was found of a serious nature so we are relieved his heart and body are OK.

    I've tried the CC route but they say I have no such protection (American Express). The airline's side is somewhat clearer to me now and I know, based on terms, they really don't owe me anything. I just thought under the circumstances, for which I provided documentation, they might provide at least a partial refund or voucher of some sort. I'm certainly willing to try to move up the ladder with polite requests but don't have a clue as to how to find the "chain of command" which I need to climb. Any information on this would be greatly appreciated.
    Richard J
     
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  14. JVillegirl541

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  15. Richard J

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    Thank you very much for that link! I do have a question on going "up the ladder". Who would be a good person to start with? Head of customer service?
    Richard J
     
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  16. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Always start with the customer service email and then go up the ladder starting with the lowest executive.

    And going forward- consider travel insurance. The right policy would have reimbursed you.
     
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  17. Richard J

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    I've already been the customer service route and was shut down pretty quickly. Not sure who the lowest excutive on this list is, but am thinking I should next go to the head of customer service. Yes, this was an expensive lesson to learn that, even though it adds more to the vacation budget, travel insurance is a necessary evil.
    Richard J
     
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  18. JVillegirl541

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    Yes move up the chain and wait several days to a week between contacts to give them a chance to respond. If they don't get back or you don't like what they have to say, move on to the next contact.
     
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  19. Richard J

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    Thanks very much for all the advice.
    Richard J
     
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  20. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Move to the first executive listed and give him or her a week to reply. If they don't or the answer is no, go to the next executive. Repeat weekly until you reach the CEO.

    Just remember that they don't have to do anything - so keep it polite and acknowledge you are asking for a favor due to a very unusual situation.

    As far as thinking of travel insurance as adding more to your vacation budget- a small investment would have made you whole. So what is better?

    http://forum.elliott.org/threads/the-right-travel-insurance.1283/
     
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