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Old Nov 17, 16, 6:58 am
#1
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Full Refund from Delta Airlines for being unable to fly due to illness?

I had to cancel my parents' 2 non-refundable main cabin tickets from Detroit Metro Airpor (DTW) to Tan Son Nhat (SGN) departing November 28. We've been travelling with Delta Air(Northwest Air back then) since the 90s. We've never cancelled any trip before. Unfortunately, my father had a stroke on Sunday, November 13. I went online to Delta Air web site to cancel the trip, and they only refunded the taxes. I called the the reservation rep. and explained to her the reason of cancellation and told her that my parents will re-book them a later date. She didn't really care about my explanation. Instead, she offered me to re-book the trip with discount price??? Can someone please let me know if I'm unreasonable to request for a full refund due to unexpected illness? Thanks in advance.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 7:04 am
#2

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The standard expectation would be to get a voucher for the value of the ticket with change fees deducted. Is that what she meant by rebooking at a discount? That's assuming you didn't purchase a bulk ticket from a travel agency or something similar.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 7:09 am
#3
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Unless you bought a refundable fare there should be no expectation of a refund. Delta is usually accommodating and will issue you a credit for the full value in the case of illness for use in the future (though they have no obligation to do so).
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Old Nov 17, 16, 7:33 am
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I forgot to say I think this is what trip insurance is meant for: insuring against unforeseeable events that impact travel.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 7:57 am
#5

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+1 on trip insurance, especially for "big ticket" trips (where "big ticket" is a personal amount).

If you didn't buy a refundable ticket, I wouldn't expect anything to be returned. Usually (always?), refundable tickets cost much more than non-refundable, so it is cheaper to get trip insurance which covers many more situations that could arise + medical issues/evacuation overseas.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 7:58 am
#6

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Hi sonle2001, in this case by cancelling first you may have limited your options. In the past when I had to make an emergency change to flight plans on an unrefundable ticket with a change fee, before cancelling anything I spoke with a Delta rep on the phone, who directed me to head to the airport with my medical docs. At the airport a rep made the schedule change for me (I had to stay at my current location for 2 weeks) with no fee upon review of my docs. As you've already canceled using the 'computer' which never makes exceptions, they may not be able to do as much for you.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 8:14 am
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The credit card you used to buy the ticket will most likely have a cancellation insurance policy as part of the benefits. Give them a call. Citi will reimburse up to $10k. Chase up to $5k.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 8:25 am
#8

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sonle 2001, suggest you call 1-800-455-2720, they are open 8am-9pm eastern time. I had a situation and was given that number to call and when I went into the Delta website, saw that it was a "regular" telephone number, in other words, nothing special for me, a diamond medallion. I was a bit skeptical, but called and had wonderful service and empathy by the delta representative.

Try it and if not to your satisfaction, ask if there is someone of higher authority to speak with. I had good results and hope you do also. In my situation, they gave me a credit for the airfare less the change fee, however, in the record is a note that the change fee will be waived when I call to make a new reservation. I wish you well.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 8:36 am
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Normally DL gives the full credit in such situations even though it's not required to do so. however, the credit must be used by the same passenger within a year, which might be a problem if the tickets were purchased far in advance, depending on the nature of the medical condition and the time to recovery.

At worst, you should get a credit for the cost of the ticket minus a change fee, typically in the $250-500 range for international tickets. This assumes that the tickets were purchased through DL and were not bulk/consolidator fares, purchased through a travel agent, or part of a tour package, including Delta Vacations.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 8:45 am
#10
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Originally Posted by lking View Post
In my situation, they gave me a credit for the airfare less the change fee, however, in the record is a note that the change fee will be waived when I call to make a new reservation.
A family member got that consideration when start of travel was interrupted by an unscheduled heart bypass. The agent was really lovely. The record was annotated so travel to use the credit was easy to book. But it wasn't a refund.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 8:52 am
#11

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Originally Posted by Widgets View Post
I forgot to say I think this is what trip insurance is meant for: insuring against unforeseeable events that impact travel.
I'm not picking on Widgets because he is a great poster, and this particular advice he gives here is true insofar as it goes. (and every travel guru the world over says the same thing.)

Here is an alternative view: Insurance is for losses that one cannot afford: homeowners, health & hospitalization, auto, and life for the family breadwinner.

If one can't afford to replace the cost of a vacation, then maybe we have an infrequent flyer who can't afford the vacation in the first place.

For myself and many frequent flyers here on FT, it is cheaper in the long-run to occasionally eat the cost of missed trip due to illness or accident. I've been lucky; I've eaten the cost of exactly ONE hotel night stay and zero airplane flights out of hundreds paid for over the years.

The OP is doing OK to get a credit for future travel with or without the rebooking fee. That is the normal result with Delta, and thankfully they don't yet sell E fares for long-haul travel.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 9:11 am
#12

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Location: Washington, DC
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I've had to make one medical cancellation. I called and the agent credited the full value of the ticket for a future flight and waived the change fee -- made a notation in the ecv that it was for full value, without a change fee, voucher to be used within a year. I asked about a letter from my doctor and was told all they needed was his name and phone number but that they wouldn't be calling. This may have been special treatment for a diamond MM but I've heard from enough others who've had the change fee waived.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 9:24 am
#13

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Hi sonle2001,

First off, I'm sorry to hear about your father. I wish the best for his recovery.

As for the ticket, make sure you write down the ticket numbers. If the tickets have a SkyMiles number attached, the cancelled tickets should show up in the "My Wallet" section of the website (it can be hard to find where that is, but keep clicking around). If you find it there, it should show you the remaining value of the ticket. That's usually what you paid minus the change fee (that fee may be up to $450 for an international fare). If there's still value remaining, you can use that for a future ticket for the person who originally booked the flight - but it expires one year after the date which you purchased it.

When I had to cancel a ticket due to a medical issue, the phone agent added a note to the ticket that the change fee should be waived. It still shows up in "My Wallet" minus the change fee, but if I call in, the ticket agent should see the note and apply the full value.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 9:32 am
#14
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OP is a new poster and there is tons of advice based on missing information. That simply confuses the situation. Rather than bombarding OP with hypotheticals and anedoctes of what might happen, OP has already cancelled and already has an answer from DL. So, the question is helping OP through this.

1. OP - Did your parents purchase the tickets from DL or from a travel agent? If from DL, it sounds as though these were non-refundable, but that if cancelled can be used within a year for other DL travel after a penalty. Is this what your parents want to do? When does the year expire?

2. Is there travel insurance? They might have purchased this as part of their tickets, it might be available through the credit card used for the purchase, it might be available as a special feature of a homeowners or other policy they happen to have or one of their employers' might have it (even for leisure travel) and they might not even know of it. If they have coverage, use this. No matter what, it is almost always better to have the cash.

3. Go back to DL and have a calm conversation and offer to obtain a letter from your father's doctor explaining that your father will be unable to travel on 11/28 and that your mother is needed for his care. That may result in at least a waiver of any penalty. But, that is up to DL.

As to travel insurance, even for the infrequent traveler, it is worth carrying something fairly comprehensive for international travel. The coverage tends to be cheap and the refunds are easy with proper documentation. Additionally, these policies, if you carefully choose, tend to also have other features, such as repatriation in medical emergencies. These may happen to older & sicker people more often than younger & healthier people, but even the young & healthy have bad accidents and the cost of a medical evacuation across the Pacific can exceed $150,000 and is not generally covered by standard health insurance.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 10:18 am
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Look also at your health coverage to make sure that adequate benefits abroad are included.
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