What part of non-refundable don’t you understand?

WUSA9.com is reporting the story of a woman with cancer who is unable to get a refund for an airline flight that she cannot take.  According to the story, the woman knew that she was buying a non-refundable ticket when she bought it.

As it turns out, the woman was to make a round-trip flight with four family members. So, five non-refundable tickets were bought.  Now, all five have decided not to make the trip, and the woman wants a refund for all five tickets.

So, how is the public reacting to the story? Well, in the story’s “comments” section plenty of people are defending the airline. In one comment, a former customer of the airline states the following:

US Airways took excellent care of my husband when we brought him home from WV back to SC – he had had a heart attack and bypass surgery while in WV on business. When I booked the tickets, the lady I spoke to at US Airways emphasized that if I bought the less expensive, non-refundable tickets and something happened to prevent us from taking those flights, we would be out the money – no refund. She made sure I understood that fully. We made a choice just like this lady and her family. I’m so sorry she is going through this but it is not US Airways’ fault.

I agree with the woman who made the above comment.  When my late wife was traveling back and forth to an out-of-state cancer center, I purchased non-refundable airline tickets because they were the cheapest tickets available. I did so knowing that I could not get a refund should something prevent my wife from flying. Thankfully, my wife was able to fly every time, with the last time taking place five weeks before she died. Had something prevented her from flying, then I would not have had just cause to request a refund for a flight ticket, even though my wife had a medical reason for making the flights.

In the case of the above-mentioned woman, the reason for her intended flight was so that she could take a vacation in Belize. On one hand, I don’t envy the woman’s ability to afford such a vacation. On the other hand, I feel no sympathy for her loss of vacation money because the money was spent on a luxury.  Besides, the rest of her family could take the trip without the woman, or the family could take their trip at a later time – and the airline would give them the ability to do so.

I have just one question for those people who support the woman’s position:

If the airline makes an exception for the woman, then where does the airline draw the line on making exceptions? Surely the airline has to draw the line somewhere. Otherwise the airline might as well as pull the plug on its non-refundable tickets.


[Feature image from sodahead.com ]

Story Update: Woman gets her refund.
"This is cause for reassessment"
  • retired.military

    Nonrefundable ticket is in the dictionary right next to Adjustable rate morgage.   People know that there are no consequences so therefore they pay no attention to the verbage of anything.

  • Anonymous

    Just another “I want to be absolved of wrong decisions I’ve made”.

  • Anonymous

    Individual responsibility. More and more rare and the vast, liberal wing of the democrat party wants to make sure we never have to concern ourselves with such things any longer.

    • Anonymous

      Its similar to the people that bought crap mortgage products and now want someone to bail them out.

  • retired.military

    When my sons screw up (they are adults but we talk every day) and I simply remind them.  As an adult you have great freedom.  They then finish the sentence (after hearing it 80000 times growing up they know it by heart.
    “With great freedom you have great responsibility:”

  • Anonymous

    I draw the line at TERMINAL CANCER. As in DEATH.

    What is wrong with you people?  According to the article, the family is trying to get her ticket refunded, not the whole family.  So yes, if she can get a doctor’s note saying that she is terminal and shouldn’t fly, she gets her money back. 

    Compassion?  Ever heard of it? Come and join the human race, we have cookies, beer and hot wings!

    • Listen carefully:  you buy a NONREFUNDABLE ticket because it is cheaper.  It is cheaper BECAUSE you can’t get a refund or switch it to another flight.

      This has nothing to do with compassion.  If the woman didn’t buy the extended warranty on her home theater and something breaks, should she be allowed to buy it retroactively because she has cancer?  And why not heart disease?  Or halitosis?

    • herddog505

      Yes, I’ve heard of compassion.  My father worked for a major airline for the last half of his career.  I have compassion for those airline employees who will become unemployed if their companies bleed too much red ink, some of which is caused by basically giving away tickets to people in the name of “compassion” or “fairness”.

      There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, not even for people with terminal cancer.  SOMEBODY always has to pick up the check.

      Again, what part of “non-refundable” is such a mystery?

    • MunDane68, the woman wants all 5 tickets refunded, not just hers.

      Suppose the woman has a written statement from her physician ordering her not to fly. One might consider such a written statement worthy of an exception to the “no refund” rule. Should that be where the line is drawn?

  • Anonymous

    Even with a non refundable ticket, you can buy trip insurance. If your trip gets cancelled for a covered reason, they will refund your paid and nonrefundable expenses. I have purchased it a couple times when there were potential possibilities of such an event. I have never had to make a claim.

    • herddog505

      My wife is very diligent about this.  As a consequence, we’ve been covered a couple of times when we’ve had to cancel a couple of trips.  It costs a bit more, but I think that it’s a good investment.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed.   Americans are the most entitled people on earth.

    • retired.military

      “Americans are the most entitled people on earth.”

      I agree withyou Chico. But ask yourself WHY THAT IS?

      Coud it be because libs (like you) keep telling them they have a right to things.  LIke free health care, free education, free money when they dont feel like working,  a free house, the govt to steop in and sav them from their bad decisions regarding money for housing, retirement and food, money that they didnt earn, a job,  and the list goes on.   Maybe that is the problem Chico.

      • herddog505

        The dems do this (and can get away with it) because our forefathers were smart enough to embrace policies and attitudes that lead to so much wealth that people can believe that it just sort of appears out of thin air or springs up from the ground, free for the taking and so abundant that everybody can – SHOULD – have a huge slice of the pie even without working for it.

        I suggest that Americans feel entitled because we’re rich, and that’s because:

        (A) Our country is fabulously rich in natural resources;

        (B) Our ancestors embraced the ideals of the rule of law; limited, republican government; freedom of conscience; a religious belief in the virtue of hard work;  egalitarian society in which a man is judged by what he DOES, not who his parents were; thrift, and; earning one’s own way;

        (C) We generally had a very open immigration policy that, combined with the economic opportunities caused by (B), helped ensure that we got a large chunk of the smartest, hardest-working people in the world.  I’m not just talking about the Einsteins and the Fermis; I mean the millions of our immigrant ancestors who mined coal or worked in steel plants or farmed or built houses or ran little shops or soldiered so that we, their descendents, could be chemists or computer scientists or loaf on Wall Street, demanding that somebody else pay for our degree in Bitter Womyns Hystory.

        Now, of course, the libs tell us that we must NOT tap our natural resources lest we pollute Mother Gaia.  Rule of Law is great, unless it stops the government doing good.  Ditto limited government: how can the government do good if people keep insisting that some moldy old document says that it can’t?  Freedom of conscience is all very well, of course, unless your conscience is “hateful” or not “inclusive”.  Hard work is just a phrase used to trick the rubes into slaving to enrich Wall Street fatcats.  And why shouldn’t people like the Kennedys, Meghan McCain or Chelsea Clinton have great jobs just because of who their parents are?  Earning one’s way?  HAH!  Don’t you know that the system is rigged and unfair?  That’s what the IOWS is all about!

        Immigration is a hot button, but I suggest that it wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for the welfare state: who cares if people come here so long as they aren’t sponging off the system?

        At any rate, when I think of how “rich” and “entitled” we are, I think back to my grandfathers: their generation basically gave us this wealth by working their a**es off in mines, farms and factories AND defending democracy from enemies foreign and domestic (how easy would it have been in 1933 to do as the Germans did and chuck democracy in favor of somebody who would promise to put a chicken in every pot so long as we agreed to turn our lives over to him?).

        They made it too easy on us.

      • Maybe?  Its most definitely the entitlement culture. . which has a rather definitive source in the left..

  • Anonymous

    Time for another bailout!

    • Anonymous

      Bailing out Europe today, the Fed’s opening the window and dishing out new money to the Eurobanks.

      • retired.military

        Why not Chico?  it is the liberal way.  After all shouldnt we be “spreading the wealth”?  Whats the matter?  Dont like the way Obama is spreading the wealth?  Or do you just want him to spread more your way. 

        Dont we want Europe to like us? Isnt that part of why Obama got elected? To repair our ties with foreign countries? I mean he is doing a great job of pissing off allies, and bowing to dictators.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, but no.  From a legalistic standpoint, you don’t refund her ticket.  It’s nonrefundable, after all.  

    But from a PR/customer relations standpoint, you make an exception and refund the ticket for the woman who has cancer and is about to die.  

    • Again, where do you draw the line at making exceptions? Also, do you refund just the one ticket or all five of them? The woman wants all five refunded.

      • Anonymous

        Refund all five of them.  In a situation like this, making an exception has less to do with the customer’s individual circumstances and more to do with the PR hit the airline is likely to take.  If the airline is going to take a PR hit that is more damaging than refunding five grand, the airline should refund the five grand.  

      • Anonymous

        Please keep in mind that I’m not making an argument based on ethics or on compassion.  I’m looking at it strictly from the perspective of PR.  

  • Anonymous

    Sorry to triple-post, but here’s what I think the airline should have done, now that I think about it:

    1)  Refuse to refund the airline tickets.  Explain that they are, in fact, nonrefundable and it can’t be done.

    2)  At airline’s expense, fly from anywhere in country, round-trip, five to ten of the woman’s relatives to visit her and her family during this difficult time.

    3)  Call the press and let them know.

    As I said, this isn’t about compassion and ethical rules.  It’s about taking a potentially negative story for the company and either 1) minimizing its negative impact or 2) turning it into a net positive for the company.

  • herddog505


    I agree: the company could have dealt with this much more sensibly.  And there would have been no reason for anybody else to find out, and hence little prospect that every other Harry Hairshirt and Sally Sobstory would have been in line demanding the same thing.

    But, as you discuss in your follow-up, it’s the difference between doing what’s “smart” or even “decent” and doing what is lawful and makes good business sense.

    • Anonymous

      As the story update goes, here’s another thing to consider: If you don’t refund tickets to the woman with cancer and she goes to the press, then you’re going to end up refunding the $5k anyway … plus you’ll have to deal with all the bad publicity.  

  • Anonymous

    UPDATE: The day after our story aired, we confirmed that U.S.
    Airways changed its decision and will grant Lynn McKain and her family a
    full refund for her tickets totaling $4,200 dollars.

    Her story has received national attention, and sparked debate over airline policy and consumer responsibility.

    McKain called 9News to inform of the update and said she is very thankful that the company will grant the refund. 

    She said, “It feels like a lot of stress has been taken of my shoulders.”Well, they all got their money back.So, you want a pilsner or a lager with your wings, US Air?

  • Anonymous

    The customer is always right! Even when they are wrong. Specially when they are wrong and dying.

  • Anonymous

    Two words:  Trip insurance.

  • retired.military

    “Agreed. Americans are the most entitled people on earth”

    Hey Chico

    here is another Obama supporter for you.