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Lufthansa and AIG Travel Guard Unhelpful with Medical Necessity Date Change

Discussion in 'Airlines' started by xdk5x, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. xdk5x

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    Bottom Line Up Front: Due to an invasive and extensive cancer surgery, my father can no longer fly alone (we have doctor's memorandums) on an upcoming trip. When the trip was originally booked he planned to return home alone, but he must now be accompanied by my mother. At the time the trip was booked, my father had to return separately to return to work and my mother planned to stay an extra week to help my wife and I with our baby, due in April. We bought both round trip tickets on the same day/time for the same price; the only difference being the return date. Despite buying AIG (Travel Guard) trip insurance, neither Lufthansa nor AIG will do anything about the $1300 fare difference (Lufthansa waived the $300 rebooking fee).

    Long Story: My dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 skin cancer (very aggressive and rare form) one year ago. He had one extensive surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and was later declared "clear." Having the "all clear," we bought plane tickets in January for them to fly from Charlotte to Greece in March/April for the birth of my third child. The plane tickets (non-refundable) were purchased at the same time/fare class, but with different return dates as my father was going to return to work early.

    Unfortunately, the cancer returned and required another very extensive surgery in February. The prognosis is still unknown, but they wanted to make the trip anyways. However, my father can no longer fly on his own due to the surgery and a fall (complication from the surgery) in which he fractured a vertebrae.

    We are simply trying to change his return date to match that of my mother. Lufthansa will only waive the $300 rebooking fee, but are trying to charge us $1300 for the fare difference, despite it being in the same class of flight AND the fact the tickets were both originally the same price!

    Additionally, AIG insurance has been extremely unhelpful and states they will not commit to covering anything. Their agents informed us that we would have to make the necessary changes, pay the fees and THEN submit a claim; at that point they will review the claim and make a determination. We have spoken with 3 different travel insurance agents and all 3 declined to offer any advice, clarification or help when it came to what would be covered and what would be the best/most effective and hopefully successful approach to changing the tickets and applying for reimbursement.

    We appreciate any assistance anyone can give us, Thank you.
     
    #1
  2. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    What AIG is telling you is the truth. They cannot commit to covering the changes until your Dads dr. Has submitted the appropriate paperwork.

    And yes, you have to pay the difference in fare. They aren't simply changing the date, that are buying a new ticket and if the prices have gone up, you have to pay the new ticket price.

    Hope that clarifies the situation.
     
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  3. Kahhss

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    XD,

    Travel insurance protections differ by policy so unless we know the exact type of policy that was purchased it's difficult for us to make any specific recommendations.

    In general, travel insurance is designed to make a customer whole if they need to cancel or if something happens on the trip. It is not generally designed to allow you to cancel one trip and get the same price for an entirely different trip. Trip interruption service is often for the returning journey only. Some policies cover trip interruption for the whole journey and thus this would depend on the type of policy you purchased. So exactly which policy did you purchase from AIG?

    In addition, some policies do not cover preexisting conditions and your father's cancer may be seen as a preexisting condition. This is often waived if the insurance was purchased at the time the trip was booked. But if you purchased the insurance with AIG more than 15 days after booking the first part of this trip then this probably will not be covered. So when did you purchase your policies in relation to purchasing the very first piece of your trip?

    Note that these are reimbursement policies so you will have incur the expense and then file to get paid back. AIG is generally unhelpful in telling someone if an expense is covered. That determination is done by a different department than the normal customer care lines and those folks are specifically told NOT to make any promises. They don't want people who aren't adjusters to make representations without all the facts that the adjusters will gather. So while we may be able to advise whether an expense is covered, that determination will ultimately be made by AIG.

    Finally, Lufthansa hasn't done anything wrong here. It's not their responsibility to allow you to rebook at lower rate.
     
    #3
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  4. JVillegirl541

    Staff Member Advocate

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    Best to get that ticket changed asap before the cost get more expensive and Lufthansa has a change of mind regarding the $300.

    Once the changes are made and paid for you can fight the battle.
     
    #4
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
    jsn55 and honestpointofview like this.
  5. xdk5x

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    Thank you all for the responses and explanations. To clarify, we're not trying to cancel the entire trip and then re-book at the same price. Of course that would be ridiculous to expect the same rate.

    However, we are just wanting to change dates on a return trip due to a new medical complication (even if it was classified as pre-existing, we purchased the insurance with the ticket, so it should be waived as "Kahhss" stated above and is written in the terms of service).
    Also, if this was just due to personal preference, then I would not have a valid complaint and understand the fare change expenses.

    In our extensive travel experience, this is not an unreasonable nor abnormal request. A previous overseas trip of mine was interrupted due to a medical issue, and Delta adjusted the flight dates without hesitation.

    More recently, British Airways provided amazing customer service and understanding with my Dad's second surgery. My family was in the States visiting when the emergency second surgery took place, and BA allowed us to change flights to a later date (without additional cost, provided that we had documentation from a medical doctor) so my wife could stay and help with the significant recovery issues.

    Considering the accommodations and hassle-free assistance provided by other airline carriers, I don't feel that I'm asking Lufthansa to do anything extraordinary. I expected the same level of care and customer service we've experienced with somewhat similar situations in the past.

    Thank you for the the time and help.
     
    #5
  6. JVillegirl541

    Staff Member Advocate

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    As I stated before you need to secure the new flight immediately. Each day that goes by potentially will cost you more and the Goodwill gesture of waiving the $300 may disappear.

    What your insurance will cover or not cover is based on the policy you purchased. From Lufthansa point of view they have nothing to do with the Travel Insurance you purchased as that is administered by a separate company. Lufthansa does not care what other airlines may or may not do or have done in the past. You have a contract with Lufthansa on a non refundable ticket.

    Protect the price of the new ticket as that is exactly what you are asking for. I'm sorry we can't tell you what you want to hear. You can certainly start a letter writing campaign but that takes time which you do not have.
     
    #6
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  7. honestpointofview

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    Hi Xd. You say that your not trying to re-book at the same price but really that is what you are trying to do. You are asking for a different flight (ie on a different date) to be charged at exactly the same price as the first time you booked. As you travel extensively you must know that flight prices on the same same flight vary hugely let alone on a flight on a different day.

    It is good to hear that in the past Delta and BA have helped you out but to be fair to Lufthansa they are being helpful as well in waiving the change fee. I would go with the advice you have had and as soon as you can make the booking. If you want you can then write asking for a credit (yes i think you will have more chance of getting a credit then a cash refund) of the fare difference. Also I would avoid saying to Lufthansa than you expect the same level of care and customer service from them as you have had from other airlines. Furthermore avoid saying that you don't feel that you are asking them to do anything extraordinary. You are asking for a favour and mentioning anything close to what you have posted about other airlines will come across as entitled and is highly likely to get you a no. In their minds they might think"well fly with those airlines then." On a busy day dealing with multiple requests that is how they may view it.
     
    #7
  8. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    You cannot just change a date. That is not how airlines do business. If you had made the change within 24 hours it could have been done. To change a date, the original ticket must be canceled and a new ticket purchased. That is how all airlines work.

    As honest say, you are asking them to make a change and not pay for it. You want the date changed but you can't just have the date change- a new ticket must be purchased and you will get a credit from the original ticket to apply to the new price.

    I am frankly shocked that Lufthansa waived the change fee but as my fellow advocates state the longer you wait to rebook that ticket the higher the difference you will have to pay. Prices just continue to go higher as seats sell.
     
    #8
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  9. Patina

    Patina Moderator
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    @xdk5x You have already heard from others about how changing a ticket works in the airline industry so I am only going to comment on your question as to why Lufthansa won't make the change without additional money paid out like BA did for you in the past. In a nutshell, BA granted an exception to the fare rules of the ticket. They chose to ignore the fare rules that you agreed upon at the time of purchase. It appears Lufthansa is choosing to follow the fare rules that you agreed upon at the time of purchase.

    Regarding the trip insurance coverage, read your policy very carefully to find if it will cover any additional costs associated with changing your ticket based on the reason for the change. If you are unsure, post the policy terms here and we can try to ascertain if it will potentially cover the additional costs. I do need to mention that we are not attorneys nor insurance agents so the final decision is up to Travel Guard. Unfortunately, the way trip insurance works is the consumer pays the additional expense and submits a claim to cover it. They do not cut you a check until you incur the expense and file a claim. I hope this clarifies things!
     
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  10. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    We can't comment on whether a claim will be honored or not. If a doctor doesn't complete the paperwork correctly the claim could be denied. As an agent I can tell you I am not permitted to make comments at ALL on whether I think it should be approved or not. I can be sued and not allowed to sell the insurance anymore.

    We cannot comment one way or the other about your claim.
     
    #10
  11. Patina

    Patina Moderator
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    Good to know.....thanks for pointing that out.
     
    #11
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  12. jsn55

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    I hope we have explained this all clearly, airline behaviour is not exactly intuitive. I always feel awful having to tell someone how things work these days with the airlines. Get that tix rebooked right away to avoid any more fare increases and then start the process of asking for an exception from Lufthansa's rules, or submitting an insurance claim.

    One other thing to remember is that your father owns his tix and he is the one who officially needs to ask for an exception or file an insurance claim. Good luck and please let us know the outcome.
     
    #12
  13. AAGK

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    Some ticket fare rules require that when a return ticket is changed after departure, the agent must reticket the return at the historical rate, i.e. the original price you paid. You would then have the change fee, however. I doubt this is covered by insurance as a trip interruption as you already called the insurer about it. However, you may want to check your fare rules for this. To the extent that the fare difference is more than the change fee, there may be some savings.
     
    #13
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