United Pulls A Scrooge

Jason Ma, February 18, 2009
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q.  I have  a close friend who is 76 years old.  He used his United Frequent Flyer Miles to book two tickets to Ft. Lauderdale within 21 days of the flight.  United charged him $75.00 each to book.  No problem there...Then, just two days before the flight, he had a stroke and was rushed to the Hospital.  He spent 10 days in the hospital and another 10 days in ReHab.  Prior to the flight, His wife called United to cancel the flight and asked that the points be placed back into his Bank.  His Doctor faxed a letter to the airline as per instructions by the agent that cancelled the flight for her.   United charged them an additional $150.00 per ticket (on the credit card they held from the original $150.00 booking fee)  for placing the points back into his bank.  They are now out $450.00.   In talking with United, They claim that they do not have someone's health as an excuse for cancelling and that is why they charged the extra $150.00 per ticket.  This is an older couple who live on a fixed income.  The $300.00 charge under these circumstances is excessive and unreasonable.   Can you help?

    A.  We recommend that you contact the consumer advocate reporter for your local news station, as well as the Ombudsman at Conde Nast Traveler.  The Ombudsman will advocate for consumers with travel-industry related problems such as yours and write about the process in the magazine:

    Ombudsman, Conde Nast Traveler

    4 Times Square

    New York NY  10036

    Quite often, the threat of looking heartless, greedy and unnecessarily punitive in print or on TV can resolve such problems quickly!  Good luck and please let us know how it turns out.

    Also, see our blog post on this for some additional advice.

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