American Airlines Refused To Refund Ticket After Fourth-Grader’s Death

Following the death of their young daughter, an Illinois family couldn’t bear the thought of following through with a long-planned spring break trip, so they asked American Airlines to refund the ticket purchased in their daughter’s name. While airlines have varying policies regarding refunds and deaths, the family says they were shocked when the airline refused the refund.

NBC Chicago reports that the family applied for a refund through the airline’s online system after deciding that the planned vacation would be too painful just five months after their daughter’s death.

But the family’s grief turned to disbelief earlier this week when American Airlines sent a fairly unsympathetic letter denying the refund request, saying the appeal didn’t meet the company’s exception requirements for non-refundable tickets.

“On behalf of American Airlines, please accept our sincere condolences,” the letter states. “After reviewing the documentation submitted, it has been determined the request does not meet our exception requirements. The ticket purchased is non-refundable so we cannot offer a refund, issue a travel voucher, or transfer this ticket to another person. The ticket will remain valid in our system for one year from the original date of issue, at which time it will expire and all value will be lost. The unused non-refundable ticket may be applied to future travel within that year as long as all travel is completed prior to the expiration date. As a one-time courtesy, authorization was documented in your reservation to waive the change fee assessed when a non-refundable ticket is changed. When you are ready to rebook your travel, just call our Reservations Center at 1-800-433-7300 and refer the agent to the ticket number mentioned above. Your new ticket will be subject to any additional collection, if necessary, as governed by the applicable fares and fare rules in effect at that time.”

Like with other airlines, American has final discretion when it comes to reimbursing tickets for extenuating circumstances. However, the airline’s policy outlines several exceptions that qualify for repayment of ticket prices, including the “death of the passenger, immediate family member, or traveling companion.”

Shortly after receiving the letter, the young girl’s mother posted the story on social media, where it received hundreds of comments, including one on Twitter from the airline.

NBC Chicago reports that late Tuesday the family received a bit of good news when American Airlines backtracked on their previous stance and refunded the ticket.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the Cantrell family on the loss of their daughter,” a spokesperson tells NBC Chicago. “We fully refunded [her] ticket last night and apologized to [the family] for not doing so immediately when she first contacted us.”

Despite the airline’s apology, the ordeal seems to have certainly colored the family’s impression of the company.

“I know that I would never write this to someone,” the family’s 13-year-old daughter tells NBC Chicago. “I don’t know how someone could send this to another family. I would never want to be treated that way and I would hope no one would elver treat anyone else that way.”

Airline Refused to Refund Ticket After Daughter’s Death, Family Says [NBC Chicago]