Airline denies refund to cancer-stricken woman

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US Airways Denies Refund For Stage-4 Cancer Patient

CBS New York: An airline has refused to budge even when confronted with a life and death situation.  US Airways has denied a refund for a Washington D.C. woman suffering from stage-4 breast cancer.
As CBS 2′s Kristine Johnson reports, Lynn McKain and her family had been planning a dream vacation to Belize. The family booked five non-refundable tickets totaling $4,200.
But before the McKains could take off for their vacation, Lynn was diagnosed with breast cancer and advised to begin chemotherapy immediately. The McKains had to cancel their vacation plans.
When Lynn contacted US Airways to notify them of her situation, and ask for a refund, her request was denied. US Airways offered a voucher that would allow the McKains to use the tickets at another time. But Lynn McKain, who has already began chemotherapy, pointed out that tickets at a later date may be useless.  “Big deal — I may not be alive. What good is a voucher gonna do me?” Lynn said.
Even after receiving letters and medical documents from McKain explaining her condition, US Airways chose to stand by its policy.  A spokesperson told CBS that “unfortunately we do not offer refunds on non-refundable tickets, but we’ll work with her to waive her change fees, and make sure that she can use her tickets at another time.
McKain has held out hope that US Airways will alter its stance.  “It’s the human thing to do. It’s a compassionate thing to do…I would like nothing more before I die than to sit on a beautiful beach,” Lynn said.
In response to inquiries from CBS, a US Airways spokesperson said they could make the vouchers transferable so that a family member could use them in the future.
I am siding with US Airways on this.  Granted, it would be a good PR move for US Airways to refund the tickets.  Yet the family did purchase non-refundable tickets.  And they could have purchased travel insurance as well. Most airlines will allow you to exchange tickets due to family emergency or illness, yet they don’t routinely refund non-refundable tickets.
Imagine the administrative headache it would be for US Airways if they had to evaluate all the situations where someone had to cancel a non-refundable trip due to unforeseen circumstances.  What do you think?

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10 responses to “Airline denies refund to cancer-stricken woman

  1. Yes, they are in a no-win situation. I agree it would be good PR to refund in this instance yet do understand their policy. I think there’s a risk when you purchase non-refundable w/out insurance. You never know when something is going to happen and you have to cancel a trip. As a consumer, you want the best rate yet need to be aware of the consequences of purchasing non-refundable.
    If she suffered a heart attack, she’d be able to exhange the ticket for a later date and probably be able to waiver the exchange fee.
    Yeah, it can be argued both ways. Heck, being a woman I might change my mind tomorrow 🙂

  2. McKain’s reasoning is specious. Any one of us could die before we could use our airline tickets. Every single human being has a fatal disease called “life”. And AA should not refund her tickets, because she, as a sentient human being, completely aware of the consequences, bought non-refundable tickets. Non-refundable tickets are non-refundable. Grow up, McKain.

    • What happened to Chivalry?

      • Makes for good PR and good business. In the long run, is it a profitable model for sustaining a business & answering to stockholders? Fortunately we have many non-profits (Make a Wish Foundation, for example) that can cater to those in need and altruistic motivations.

  3. I would probably give her her money back. But then again, I have prayed to have a portion of the same compassion & love for people as Jesus does. I always try to look at every situation as….What would Jesus do?

  4. Capitalism.

  5. A conundrum for sure – I feel sorry for the lady, yes, but once that door is opened….
    Life can be so unfair. Personally, I would refund the $$$. Some things in life are more important!


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