Single mom out $1000

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Feb 10, 2017
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A friend of mine was planning to take her sone from Milwaukee to Atlanta. But on the day of the flight she was in a car accident and, naturally, they couldn't go.

United says they can spend $600 to transfer the tickets to new dates, but the purpose of their trip is now gone. Essentially, she paid $1000 for two coach tickets she can't use unless she shells out an additional $600.

Today, she had $80 to sustain her for two weeks, so she could really use that $1000. What can she do to get her money back on these "non refundable" tickets?
 

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
Did she buy travel insurance? That is what it is for. It would have reimbursed her for the tickets.

If she did not and bought a nonrefundable ticket, she will get a credit to use within a year from the date she bought the initial ticket less a cancellation fee. The airlines sell travel insurance for circumstances as this - if she didn't buy it then she either takes the credit or loses everything. Wish I had better news but that is how tickets work when they are non-refundable.
 
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JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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Does the credit card used to pay for these tickets have a travel insurance benefit? That may be one way. Or travel insurance purchased with the tickets?

Otherwise non-Refundable is just that. United will extend a credit for one year from the date of the purchase (change fees will apply).

I do not believe she will get a refund. But she can write a polite letter asking for a waiver of the change fees. I'm sure she has the medical documentation and may find a sympathetic ear of by writing a polite letter to the UA contacts.
 
Feb 10, 2017
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I read an article by Mr. Elliott indicating that everything is negotiable, even non refundable tickets (www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/lifestyle/travel/can-i-get-a-refund-on-that-nonrefundable-airline-ticket/2015/08/06/2ac629b8-2ca1-11e5-a250-42bd812efc09_story.html?client=safari). This is why I wrote on her behalf.

She paid cash, so there's no CC to offer a refund, and she did not get insurance. She realizes she can use them up to a year later. But, as I indicated in my post, the purpose of the trip is gone. And she'd still have to cough up $600 to transfer the new dates of travel.

I was hoping there might be some small loophole or window or advocacy work that could get her the money returned. She has practically nothing right now and even a partial refund could help her immensely.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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4,351
As @JVillegirl541 and @Neil mentioned, your friend could try writing to customer service first then move on to the execs of United to see if they would make an exception to the fare rules. This is something that your friend would need to do as the airline will not interact with you on her behalf. We also do not advocate directly with the companies but offer our suggestions as to the best way to go about advocating for yourself. We have seen companies bend the rules so its not out of the question but it is important not to get your friend's hopes up because there are no "loop holes" in this case that would guarantee a refund. My suggestion: have your friend post a brief email here that we can offer some constructive criticism before she sends it to customer service. A well written letter can do wonders!
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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Bless you for helping, Scott. Patina is right ... every once in a while we see a miracle. In a case like this, it's called 'artful begging' and, if she gets lucky, someone at United just might have some compassion. Very slim chance, but definitely worth a shot. A concise, polite letter doesn't take much effort, and you never know. I wish we could offer you more optimism.
 

kenish

Sep 1, 2015
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@Scott Nesbitt - I hope your friend wasn't badly injured and has fully recovered. Was the other driver at-fault? If so, your friend should file a claim with the other driver's insurance for the airfare, or at least the $600 change fee. (I assume $600 is the change fee for 3 people x $200?) Were all 3 people involved in the traffic accident?
 
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Feb 10, 2017
4
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52
@Scott Nesbitt - I hope your friend wasn't badly injured and has fully recovered. Was the other driver at-fault? If so, your friend should file a claim with the other driver's insurance for the airfare, or at least the $600 change fee. (I assume $600 is the change fee for 3 people x $200?) Were all 3 people involved in the traffic accident?

Thanks for your concern. Unfortunately, to make this whole situation more horrendous, she was at fault for the accident and was borrowing a friend's car--a friend who had let her insurance lapse.

My friend did break her wrist, but noone else was hurt. The car sustained a whole lot of damage and her friend demanded payment for repairs. But that's a story for another day.

It's actually 2 x $300 (a ticket for herself and her son).
 

mmb

Verified Member
Jan 20, 2015
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I have always beeen under the impression that if you have an accident on the way to the airport and have an accident then a police report could very well serve to ask for a waiver of the change fees. Did I dream that up one night?
 
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Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
26,145
29,501
New York
www.promalvacations.com
I have always beeen under the impression that if you have an accident on the way to the airport and have an accident then a police report could very well serve to ask for a waiver of the change fees. Did I dream that up one night?
Yes. You still need insurance unless the airline takes pity on you.

I think that the woman should write up the airline chain of command to artfully beg, as we say, for an exception. She may find a sympathetic executive but the fact she paid cash further mucks this up.

How exactly did she pay cash for her tickets? Did she go to a travel
agent? Did the agent offer travel insurance? Someone would have had to check off that she was accepting or declining insurance. If she didn't go to a travel agent who bought the tickets for her?
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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Didn't know you could use cash? In fact I understood that to be a big No No? Possibly a debit card?
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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To use cash, you would have to turn it over to a travel agency or directly to the airline at a ticket window to pay for a ticket. So I am not sure how one would book with cash.
Airlines in the US no longer take cash. I'm betting she used a Debit card. Some Debit cards have a few benefits.
 
Aug 28, 2015
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New York
Perhaps she gave a friend, maybe the LW, cash and they used their credit card on her behalf? So she would not be able to avail herself of the cardholder's trip delay protections.

As for MMB's idea, it's terrific! In fact, as a data point, I recently used the "flat tire rule" and the airline waived the change fee. Although it's not really a rule, the airline was so impressed by my attempt to use the term, it rebooked me at no charge. The agent laughed at me, but in a nice way. With a police report for an actual accident and the additional costs of car repairs, etc, she may have a shot, and she will definitely get those change fees removed. I know she wants the cash as all do.

She also majorly overpaid for this flight. Hopper says the nonstop is usually under $200 so obv if she flew again, she would be better served with new tickets.