Need help getting exhorbitant airline ticket price adjusted

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Apr 18, 2018
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#1
I live with my wife and kids just outside Philadelphia. On the evening of March 27, my Father in law had a heart attack. Anticipating that her Father was soon going to pass, my wife, in the very early hours of March 28, booked a 5:00 a.m. flight to comfort her Mother and to see her Father in Florida. Sadly, her father passed on March 28, before her flight left. As if this was not enough, American Airlines charged, including seat selection, approximately $950 for a one way flight to Florida.

We have been flying to Florida about twice a year for roughly 16 years. We have typically booked at least 2 months in advance and have usually paid in the vicinity of $300-$350 for each rountrip ticket we book.

I understand that many airlines these days do not offer "bereavement" airfares, however $950 is not a reasonable price for a flight from Philadelphia to to Florida. I don't think it's unreasonable for me to request a $600 refund back to my credit card. This would in effect adjust the price to be $350, which is more reasonable than $950, which is exhorbitant.

I thank you for any assistance you can provide. I can also provide a copy of the death certificate if necessary.

The value of my claim (in US $)? = 600
Date of transaction/travel date: March 28, 2018
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,331
13,024
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www.promalvacations.com
#2
I live with my wife and kids just outside Philadelphia. On the evening of March 27, my Father in law had a heart attack. Anticipating that her Father was soon going to pass, my wife, in the very early hours of March 28, booked a 5:00 a.m. flight to comfort her Mother and to see her Father in Florida. Sadly, her father passed on March 28, before her flight left. As if this was not enough, American Airlines charged, including seat selection, approximately $950 for a one way flight to Florida.

We have been flying to Florida about twice a year for roughly 16 years. We have typically booked at least 2 months in advance and have usually paid in the vicinity of $300-$350 for each rountrip ticket we book.

I understand that many airlines these days do not offer "bereavement" airfares, however $950 is not a reasonable price for a flight from Philadelphia to to Florida. I don't think it's unreasonable for me to request a $600 refund back to my credit card. This would in effect adjust the price to be $350, which is more reasonable than $950, which is exhorbitant.

I thank you for any assistance you can provide. I can also provide a copy of the death certificate if necessary.

The value of my claim (in US $)? = 600
Date of transaction/travel date: March 28, 2018
I'm sorry about the passing of your father in law. Unfortunately you experienced a last minute fare and they can be that expensive. She was traveling during school holiday time and Easter which doesn't help with keeping the pricing down either. And one way flights are often more expensive than round trip. You agreed to pay that price when you booked it - if it was not agreeable - the airline is going to ask why you bought it. Did you check other airlines before booking with AA? You don't say where in Florida you were flying for us to do a mock booking and seeing what price came up.

I am not sure you will have success but you have nothing to lose by clicking on our Company Contacts tab on top of the page, read the information on how to write to the airline and then taking that advice and write, starting at Customer Service and working your way up one by one to the executives as we advise you to.

Let us know how you make out. Good luck.
 
Likes: Tanya
Sep 19, 2015
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#3
I am very sorry to hear of the death of your father in law.

Unfortunately Neil is correct. The time to ask is before leaving and agreeing to pay and one should comparison shop and look at round trip tickets.

Having been through the same I understand that one is not thinking clearly but this is where family can help in searching for flights.

I do not think that it is a good strategy to tell the airline what you think the price should be — there is no comparison between booking months in advance and within a few hours of departure.

You may have better luck asking for a goodwill certificate if you use the airline often.

I also did not receive any consideration with a similar situation. I did buy a round trip ticket and all the airline would do is waive the change fee the trip was extended to wait for funeral.

This is the sad reality of the situation.
 
Jul 5, 2018
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#4
Hi, I basically have the same issue as jpgrillet -- sister's husband died, had to fly quickly to CA from PHL for memorial, got gouged by airlines. It had to be done quickly and even so I called both United and American and neither would offer me any kind of discount from the almost double fare I paid. United was about $5 cheaper so I went with them, but it was still over $700. This just seems so cruel and harsh to price gouge people who must fly because of a death. I just wondered, is there a sample letter anywhere or some advice about what kind of info to put in the letter? I'm not even sure what to ask for -- we fly to CA as my sister's whole family lives there and we usually pay 1/2 what we paid this time -- around $350. (Christina H, what is a goodwill certificate? Is that like a voucher for future travel?) And jpgrillet, if you had any success, can you post an update? Many thanks for any help.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
Hikergirl I am sorry about your brother-in-law. yes a goodwill certificate is a voucher for x dollars for future travel, usually has to be used in a year.

This is the nature of airline travel. The bereavement fare was so abused in the past — it is gone.

I would write a polite letter and ask for consideration and enclose a copy of the death certificate and notice for the memorial service. Do not say how unfair it is,

And I hate to say it but the current system, although it is not great, is more fair because no one gets a bereavement fare —should there be bereavement fares only be offered to immediate family? Second cousins? Best friends? Some people are closer to their friends than blood relatives.

I had to buy a last minute ticket when a family member went into the hospital. They never left and I had to extend my stay for the funeral. Delta waived the change fee but I had to pay fare difference. This domestic ticket cost me well over 1000. I did not bother to ask for any more as I got the change fee waived.
 
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#6
Last minute walk-up fares are very high. Example: United lowest non-stop one-way economy PHL to SFO tomorrow $699. Identical route on August 16 $189 with many other flights under $250.
You, like most of us, are used to booking weeks/months in advance. When I book vacation travel it is far in advance and inexpensive (relatively so). When I book last minute business travel (still an economy seat) it costs a LOT more.
 
Dec 18, 2016
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#7
I truly feel for the above two people. My sincere best wishes. It hurts.
Still so many people abused this years ago, we all bear then consequences.

And yet, last minute, walk up prices are what they are. Do we expect taxis to cut us a break, restaurants, etc. I realize this sounds heartless. But why should the airlines care? They are in business to make money.

Who else remembers when people would make two or three reservations in order to ensure good seats? I do, but I didn’t. And the result? Non-refundable tickets. And people still think they should be refunded!!

Ok. End of rant.
 
Jul 5, 2018
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#8
Thank you all so much. I'll give it a try and let you know how it goes. I did not know that people abused the bereavement fares (I thought that was just a Seinfeld episode!!). My entire extended family lived within 80 miles of each other (for better or worse...) until my sister moved her whole family to CA so I had no experience with bereavement fares or lack thereof.

And I guess I get that this is the nature of business, but I do remember a time when businesses, even big ones, had a little more heart. Are the airlines so poor that they have to make money on the misfortune of others just to make their payroll? Not likely. It is a pretty big hit for the consumer and for the airline it is a petty amount. The "no one gets it because some abused it" seems to me to always to come down hardest on those who play by the rules. I suppose all I can do is throw my money at those businesses who conduct themselves with decency and I will continue to try to do that.

OK, end of my rant. Thank you all for listening and for your thoughts. I so appreciate it. Will report back.
 
Likes: Vinkin
Dec 18, 2016
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#9
Thank you all so much. I'll give it a try and let you know how it goes. I did not know that people abused the bereavement fares (I thought that was just a Seinfeld episode!!). My entire extended family lived within 80 miles of each other (for better or worse...) until my sister moved her whole family to CA so I had no experience with bereavement fares or lack thereof.

And I guess I get that this is the nature of business, but I do remember a time when businesses, even big ones, had a little more heart. Are the airlines so poor that they have to make money on the misfortune of others just to make their payroll? Not likely. It is a pretty big hit for the consumer and for the airline it is a petty amount. The "no one gets it because some abused it" seems to me to always to come down hardest on those who play by the rules. I suppose all I can do is throw my money at those businesses who conduct themselves with decency and I will continue to try to do that.

OK, end of my rant. Thank you all for listening and for your thoughts. I so appreciate it. Will report back.
Actually they were that poor.
Sadly people say that airlines should care, and then shop for the lowest possible fare !(I don’t mean you)
BUT. (Caps intended)
You are exactly right!! It does come down hardest on those who play by the rules.
And yes! We should spend our money on the firms that care. 100%
 
Likes: Tanya

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#10
Some people have always tried to chisel the cost of goods and services that they buy, they're always looking for the cheapest anything. There are bloggers who make a living issuing "newsletters" about how to beat the system ... especially with loyalty plans. Back in the day, the airlines DID try; I still remember how hard that agent worked to get three of us back home after my mother died suddenly. People literally would "make up" death certificates to submit to an airline to get a discount on a flight. Front-line airline staff used to be warm, friendly and worked hard to take care of their passengers; they had wide latitude to make things work. But when the tough times came along, airlines went under, the bean counters took over, employees are required to follow the procedures manual to the letter, and there are very few "favors" given out by an airline.

BUT it never hurts to ask, we see miracles here all the time. The front-line airline people can't do much outside procedures, but the executives can ... that's why we have so much success advising people to write concise, polite letters. You just never know.
 
Feb 21, 2018
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#11
Thank you all so much. I'll give it a try and let you know how it goes. I did not know that people abused the bereavement fares (I thought that was just a Seinfeld episode!!). My entire extended family lived within 80 miles of each other (for better or worse...) until my sister moved her whole family to CA so I had no experience with bereavement fares or lack thereof.

And I guess I get that this is the nature of business, but I do remember a time when businesses, even big ones, had a little more heart. Are the airlines so poor that they have to make money on the misfortune of others just to make their payroll? Not likely. It is a pretty big hit for the consumer and for the airline it is a petty amount. The "no one gets it because some abused it" seems to me to always to come down hardest on those who play by the rules. I suppose all I can do is throw my money at those businesses who conduct themselves with decency and I will continue to try to do that.

OK, end of my rant. Thank you all for listening and for your thoughts. I so appreciate it. Will report back.
As the others have already suggested, it never hurts to ask. With a politely worded letter you may just get some sort of voucher to use on future travel. Sure, they may refuse - but they may say yes, and you won't know if you don't ask.

I just recently filed a refund request with United for two very non-refundable tickets due to the death of one of the ticketed passengers, and that passenger's wife (my Aunt and Uncle). They flew to Aruba every year and had their trip all planned for September until my Uncle unexpectedly passed away in May. I was reasonably certain they would refund my Uncle's ticket since there was no way he could use any residual credit, but truly thought at best my Aunt would get just the credit less a change fee. After all, non-refundable normally means - no refunds.

United refunded both tickets with a nice letter of condolence to my Aunt, telling her they hoped this would help her focus on more important matters...and that they looked forward to a day in the future when she might be ready to travel again.
 
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Dec 18, 2016
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#12
Some people have always tried to chisel the cost of goods and services that they buy, they're always looking for the cheapest anything. There are bloggers who make a living issuing "newsletters" about how to beat the system ... especially with loyalty plans. Back in the day, the airlines DID try; I still remember how hard that agent worked to get three of us back home after my mother died suddenly. People literally would "make up" death certificates to submit to an airline to get a discount on a flight. Front-line airline staff used to be warm, friendly and worked hard to take care of their passengers; they had wide latitude to make things work. But when the tough times came along, airlines went under, the bean counters took over, employees are required to follow the procedures manual to the letter, and there are very few "favors" given out by an airline.

BUT it never hurts to ask, we see miracles here all the time. The front-line airline people can't do much outside procedures, but the executives can ... that's why we have so much success advising people to write concise, polite letters. You just never know.
You are so correct Jan. Both on the chiseler/schemers/scammers/“sharp operators. And, warm, caring attentive front-line workers were the norm. Cost reductions are driving the airlines now. Remember when, I think it was United, that saved tons of money by eliminating an olive from the salad?
Today we want yesteryear’s service with rock bottom prices. Not happening.
 
Dec 18, 2016
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#13
As the others have already suggested, it never hurts to ask. With a politely worded letter you may just get some sort of voucher to use on future travel. Sure, they may refuse - but they may say yes, and you won't know if you don't ask.

I just recently filed a refund request with United for two very non-refundable tickets due to the death of one of the ticketed passengers, and that passenger's wife (my Aunt and Uncle). They flew to Aruba every year and had their trip all planned for September until my Uncle unexpectedly passed away in May. I was reasonably certain they would refund my Uncle's ticket since there was no way he could use any residual credit, but truly thought at best my Aunt would get just the credit less a change fee. After all, non-refundable normally means - no refunds.

United refunded both tickets with a nice letter of condolence to my Aunt, telling her she hoped this would help her focus on more important matters...and that they looked forward to a day in the future when she might be ready to travel again.
Great story! And thanks for sharing. Asking, not demanding works wonders, some time.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,331
13,024
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#14
Thank you all so much. I'll give it a try and let you know how it goes. I did not know that people abused the bereavement fares (I thought that was just a Seinfeld episode!!). My entire extended family lived within 80 miles of each other (for better or worse...) until my sister moved her whole family to CA so I had no experience with bereavement fares or lack thereof.

And I guess I get that this is the nature of business, but I do remember a time when businesses, even big ones, had a little more heart. Are the airlines so poor that they have to make money on the misfortune of others just to make their payroll? Not likely. It is a pretty big hit for the consumer and for the airline it is a petty amount. The "no one gets it because some abused it" seems to me to always to come down hardest on those who play by the rules. I suppose all I can do is throw my money at those businesses who conduct themselves with decency and I will continue to try to do that.

OK, end of my rant. Thank you all for listening and for your thoughts. I so appreciate it. Will report back.
Providing a copy of a death certificate would help your cause
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#15
Thank you all so much. I'll give it a try and let you know how it goes. I did not know that people abused the bereavement fares (I thought that was just a Seinfeld episode!!). My entire extended family lived within 80 miles of each other (for better or worse...) until my sister moved her whole family to CA so I had no experience with bereavement fares or lack thereof.

And I guess I get that this is the nature of business, but I do remember a time when businesses, even big ones, had a little more heart. Are the airlines so poor that they have to make money on the misfortune of others just to make their payroll? Not likely. It is a pretty big hit for the consumer and for the airline it is a petty amount. The "no one gets it because some abused it" seems to me to always to come down hardest on those who play by the rules. I suppose all I can do is throw my money at those businesses who conduct themselves with decency and I will continue to try to do that.

OK, end of my rant. Thank you all for listening and for your thoughts. I so appreciate it. Will report back.
The honest people do suffer from the actions of the dishonest ones.

It takes a lot of time to sort through the paperwork of every claim and weed through the fakes from the real ones. And where would the line be drawn? AA carries over 150 million passengers per year, UA about a few million less.

And now it is easier than ever to whip up a fake document on the computer. And there are website which advise people how to abuse and scam everything from airlines to amazon.
They may be making money now but they had many bad years and the business changed.

But do write.
 
Nov 21, 2014
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#16
I have wondered why last minute tickets are so expensive. You would think that filling all seats would be a priority and charging two or three times the average price would deter some people. Perhaps it is because the high cost doesn't impact business and emergency travelers if they must get there? Just curious if anyone knows.
 
Jun 30, 2017
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#18
I have wondered why last minute tickets are so expensive. You would think that filling all seats would be a priority and charging two or three times the average price would deter some people. Perhaps it is because the high cost doesn't impact business and emergency travelers if they must get there? Just curious if anyone knows.
Most leisure travel seats are sold relatively far in advance. The last-minute seats are more likely purchased by people traveling on business where the employer picks up the tab and the passenger does not care what they cost. Cruises, on the other hand, may have last minute bargains because few people decide on the spur of the moment to go on a cruise. Even then, they may have to pay high airfares to get to the port.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#19
I am self employed and do have to take some last minute trips and it can be really difficult. Some clients have to approve the price and it is an extra. Other times the cost of the travel is included in the flat fee so again there is no blank check for travel expenses. Once I get to a place like Chicago I take public transportation, not adding on taxi fares.

Even when I buy flights in advance they can be extremely expensive because it is either a day trip or just one night. NYC to Pittsburgh — early morning departure and evening return — $930 r/t bought over 10 days in advance. NYC to chicago r/t same day was about $520 also bought about 2 weeks in advance. But what other options are there?
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#20
I am self employed and do have to take some last minute trips and it can be really difficult. Some clients have to approve the price and it is an extra. Other times the cost of the travel is included in the flat fee so again there is no blank check for travel expenses. Once I get to a place like Chicago I take public transportation, not adding on taxi fares.

Even when I buy flights in advance they can be extremely expensive because it is either a day trip or just one night. NYC to Pittsburgh — early morning departure and evening return — $930 r/t bought over 10 days in advance. NYC to chicago r/t same day was about $520 also bought about 2 weeks in advance. But what other options are there?
Unfortunately 10 -14 days advance purchase is still almost "last minute" fares. If I price the NYC-PIT flight for 7/20 RT is ~$800, for 8/20 it is half that or less.