U.S. Airways claims they’ll waive the fees if I document my wife’s illness

By | February 23, 2009

(Follow the whole story at http://blog.kamens.brookline.ma.us/tag/trapped-in-georgia/.)

I waited on hold for almost two hours before finally being connected to someone in the customer relations department at U.S. Airways.

I started out by asking if I could just get someone to read my letter rather than being forced to tell the whole story again, and she said that was impossible — they get too many faxes to be able to find a particular fax, so no one would be able to review my fax until it got distributed to agents with the rest of them.

So I told the agent my story and asked, once again, for a reduction or waiver of the ticket change fees.

And, once again, the agent informed me that the terms and conditions of our tickets did not include a waiver for medical emergencies and therefore the fees could not be waived.

Up to now, I have been nothing but polite to all of the U.S. Airways employees with whom I have dealt.  I have acknowledged, to each employee, that I understood that the airline’s policy was not under his/her control.  I politely asked to whom I could speak who might be able to override the policy.  And then I went off like a good little boy and spoke to the person on the next rung of the ladder.

I’m sorry to say that my politeness ran out during this call.  I lost my temper.  I yelled.  I berated the agent for yet again mouthing the platitudes about “terms and conditions” and “airline policies,” when she knew as well as I did that the terms, conditions and policies were created by the airline and the airline could change them on a whim.  I listed all of the people and media outlets to whom I was going to complain if the airline didn’t solve the problem.  I pointed out how absurd it was that the airline gives passengers nothing when it has to cancel flights due to circumstances (supposedly) beyond its control but then expects passengers to pay an exorbitant fee when they cannot fly due to circumstances beyond their control.  I told her that it was simply reprehensible that the airline expected my wife, who spent the night alternating between lying on the bathroom floor, vomiting, and having diarrhea, to get on a plane with her five children a few hours later.  I pointed out how outrageous it was that the airline preferred for my wife to expose many people at the airport and everyone on both of her flights to a serious, potentially lethal virus, rather than letting her and her family fly the next day.

She told me to calm down, put me on hold for a few minutes, and then came back and claimed that if I faxed them documentation from a doctor that my wife was unable to fly this morning, they would waive the fees.

My wife did not see a doctor.  There was no need, since the friend she’s visiting is a registered nurse who has seen this flu travel all over the hospital where she works and who had it herself a few days ago.  However, our friend the nurse is going to write a letter, and with any luck, that will be good enough.  We’ll see.

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