Customer Service
COMPLAINT: Refunds for Family Crisis?

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Old May 1, 2012, 1:28 AM
Richard Majeste Richard Majeste is offline
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 1

Does United ever issue refunds for family crises?

I bought three round trip tickets to Vancouver, B.C., Canada for myself and two of my kids for June, 2012. A few days later my teenage daughter (one of the passengers) ran away. She has been gone over three weeks. I don't know where she is or if she is even alive. I completed an online refund request with United and just received a denial. I included a copy of the photograph being used by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and a copy of the court order ordering her returned. There is no way we can take this trip with her missing. And I really need the money for other expenses now. The private investigator fees are astronomical.

Is there anything I can do? Does anyone at United have a heart?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Richard Majeste
Atlanta, Georgia
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Old May 1, 2012, 6:16 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

Before you get blasted by loads of people telling you what "non refundable" tickets mean and that you should have bought insurance, I would like to make a comment. There are very few insurance products on the market that would cover the somewhat exceptional circumstances you find yourself in. In the past, you may have had some flexibility from the airlines and perhaps a credit of some kind. Today, they are rigid, inflexible and see circumstances such as yours as a revenue opportunity.

I think the best chance you have of making progress is to go to the local media with your story. This can provide valuable publicity locally about your search for your daughter and perhaps shame the airline into a more compassionate response. I wish you well in your search. In the vast majority of cases, children are found and come to no harm. That won't stop your agony and worry, but I hope you are reunited with your daughter and she is safe and sound.
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Old May 2, 2012, 8:07 PM
Matt_FLL Matt_FLL is offline
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 100

Echoing Jim, I’m so sorry to hear about the circumstances which led you to this forum. You and your family are in my thoughts.

Jim is exactly right: a lot of people will likely reply, and point out that you had a choice to buy a refundable or non-refundable ticket. You decided to purchase a non-refundable fare because it was cheaper. The fare was discounted because you agreed to certain restrictions (including no refunds).

I suggest that you cancel and eat the penalty. As a business road warrior, I can only offer one modest alternative that should be used very cautiously. Unlike most passengers, you can keep your fingers crossed that the flight will be cancelled or significantly delayed (usually 1.5 hours). If that happens you are entitled to a full refund. However, I urge you to read the fare rules of the ticket that you’ve purchased. In almost all cases, you MUST cancel **BEFORE** departure time or else you lose your entire ticket. So time this out carefully. Further, some tickets are “use-it-or-lose-it”.

As a final thought, and in response to Jim’s suggestion, you may want to read this interesting article where Spirit Airlines “took a stand” (in their eyes!) on this exact type of situation last week.

Stay well, and we will be thinking of your family.

Best Regards,
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