Virgin American Refunds Non-Refundable Tickets For Expectant Parents

Brian and his wife do know the meaning of the word “non-refundable.” Really, they do. But they booked their trip to Mexico without knowing that his wife, Brooke, would get pregnant. Brian Jr. or Brooke Jr. is due right around the time the trip is scheduled, making it a very poor idea. They figured out that they could return the tickets, minus some fees, for Virgin America credit, but that would have to be used within a year. As considerate Consumerist readers, they don’t want to fly for fun with a [potentially screaming] baby. So they checked with Virgin to see whether an exception could be made.

There are a lot of reasons why my wife and I like Virgin America, but we now have a new reason to be especially fond of the airline.

We found out recently that we are going to have a baby early next year, our first. While we are obviously excited about our new arrival, the timing of our trip to Mexico was right around the time the baby was due. More specifically, we had just booked non-refundable Virgin America tickets the month before.

After reviewing the contract of carriage and Virgin America’s policies, we found out that we could pay a $75 fee per ticket and keep the remainder (about $373) as a credit to be used within 12 months. While this seemed more than fair and standard for airlines, my wife and I knew that we wouldn’t be able to use the credit in time with an infant, so we were essentially forfeiting the full $523. We also knew we could really use the additional money….you know, for diapers and magical genies that eat diapers.

We called Virgin America and were told to get a doctor’s note to possibly have the $75 fee waived for my wife, but that was the best they could do. So, we got the doctor’s note and wrote Virgin America an email explaining the situation and requesting a refund to our credit card instead of a credit on file. To our surprise, we received the response below:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. xxxxxxx,

Thank you for contacting us! Per your request, we have cancelled your booking with full refund-$523.06 as a courtesy. We certainly wish to congratulate you on the upcoming new addition to your family! If you have questions or need further assistance, please contact our Call Center at 1-877-FLY-VIRGIN 7 days a week 3:30am – 11:30pm Pacific.

Thank you for choosing Virgin America!

[redacted] | HQ CALL CENTER LEAD

Keep in mind, Virgin America was under no obligation to honor our request and to our surprise, refunded the FULL amount. Granted, this wasn’t some last minute cancellation, but I’m not sure we would have gotten the same treatment with other airlines. It was a very generous gesture and one I will not soon forget when it comes time to book our next flight (you know…when babies don’t cry and ruin your flight) Thank you, Virgin America!

An airline going out of its way to do something nice? How lovely!

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.