Frustration with SAS

Old Sep 24, 08, 10:45 am
  #1  
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Thumbs down Frustration with SAS

My parents were recently traveling in Norway when my father became seriously ill. He spent several days in a hospital outside of Trondheim with severe pain. The doctors and my mother decided that my father could not continue on with his trip and that he should return to the US to seek further medical treatment. They had a return flight on SAS leaving approximately 12 days later. However, the hotel in which they were staying worked throug the concierge to get my father booked on a flight back home. Rather than paying a ticket change fee, my parents were charged USD $10,000 to get my father home to Seattle on standby. Feeling as if she had no other option and needing to get my father home to see an internal medicine specialist, my mother reluctantly agreed and got him home. The hotel staff was so outraged by the airline's behavior that they indicated they would be writing a letter to the local paper in protest.

SAS has refused to refund the price instead offering a $600 refund. My parents feel exploited by the medical emergency and SAS seems to have taken advantage of travelers with few options in the case of such an emergency. Frustrating to say the least. My parents have been loyal SAS travelers for many years and it is devestating to see a company respond in such a manner rather than attempt to assist passengers in a crisis.
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Old Sep 24, 08, 11:01 am
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Welcome to Flyertalk.

I'm sorry to hear about your father. I hope he is feeling better.

I'm sure your parents were traveling on non-refundable/changeable tickets. Did they ask SAS to change those tickets? I'm sure that could be done for a much lesser fee.

I would have done this myself, not relied on a concierge. If they couldn't, they should have someone else in the family call for them. The tickets purchased are the most expensive there are, there are Economy Extra or even Economy tickets available for immediate travel for a fraction of the price they paid. The person who handled SAS here does not know a lot about booking airline tickets.

If they paid 10 grand, it must be 2 full fare business class tickets and if they were on stand by, the flight must have been full, hence the stand by status.

Did they check other routings? Other airlines?

While SAS sometimes are very flexible in situations like these, I don't know a single airline that allows re-booking of non changeable tickets without a fee.

That's why we have travel insurance. Your parents will of course be covered in a situation like this. I'm sure they have travel insurance?

I can offer to help you out with my contacts at SAS, but there are many questions that needs to be answered.

Please PM if you want me to assist you
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Old Sep 24, 08, 11:08 am
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I'm having trouble vusalizing what sort/class/fare basis tickets SAS sold your parents (or that the hotel staff who helped them was not horrified to recommend). I can't quite come up with that number for even "First Class One Way".

Having grown up in a doctor's family (and with the twin terrors, two little sisters, one a Liberal OB/GYN, the other a very successful Plaintiff's Attorney), I'm not quite clear as to the medical situation. Unless he were already under treatment for some specific condition (and even then with dialogue with his Seattle Internist only emails away for the physician(s) in Norway), if he was well enough predictably to be able to make the long flights home (with at least one plane change), I'm not sure what was the benefit of an early return.

My final personal caveat concerns the availability of alternate carriers/routing for flights home. SAS, not what it once was, is not the only airline in town, even in Norway, even in remote parts of Norway with substantial service - even by Low Cost Carriers - to small coastal cities to serve the logistics and personnel requirements of the "erl bidness".

Did SAS take advantage of the situation? Knowingly or unknowingly (a common sorporate failing), yes. Do they owe your parents a refund? Not in any sense but pangs of internal guilt, a rare corporate emotion. After all, investment banks aren't rushing out into the steet to cry "Mea culpa". They are standing around, however, with their hands, buckets and wheelbarrows waiting for Congress for to send them cash or promissiory notes backed by your personal income/assets.

Short of finding a hungry lawyer (and even my kid sister, her blood lust aflame to hang corporate evildoers from the nearest lamp posts or sour apple trees - long ago the suggested Southern substitute in the absence of lamp posts in the South - would not leap at the Forlorn Hope) to pursue SAS, other than angry polemics and letters, what are you to do?

I'm afraid "Caveat Emptor" applies.....
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Old Sep 24, 08, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by TMOliver View Post
I'm having trouble vusalizing what sort/class/fare basis tickets SAS sold your parents (or that the hotel staff who helped them was not horrified to recommend). I can't quite come up with that number for even "First Class One Way".
The price looks like a normal one way full-fare business class ticket (booking class C). The price should be around 3500€, which is equal to about $5000/person. I really hope that the op's parent has a good travel insurance.

Fwiw, SK has even more expensive tickets - the A-class tickets are >5000€ one way, and with those tickets they actually kick someone else out of the plane if necessary to make room.
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Old Sep 25, 08, 7:08 am
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Did your father have a travel and medical insurance? It's exactly in such situations that you should call your travel insurance company and have them work out the details. In medical emergencies or in case a planned onward journey cannot be kept as scheduled for medical reasons, they are the ones to pay for any extra costs incurred, including any extra costs involved to be transported home from Norway to the USA.
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Old Sep 25, 08, 9:56 am
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I find this whole issue rather strange. Ok, a ticket might cost 10.000$ one way for 2 persons. However I find it seriously strange that no other tickets was searched for. I mean anyone would.
And if I went to America and got ill and didn't have insurance. Would I blame the hospital?
How about travelling the next day? If he got good care in Trondheim.

I am not trying to be an arse towards someone in a difficult situation here, but I seriously don't think SAS is to blame. In my history with SAS they have been very helpful, although within reason.

If I wore to have a second talk to someone here at all it would be the concierge.
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Old Sep 25, 08, 2:39 pm
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"Rather than paying a ticket change fee, my parents were charged USD $10,000 to get my father home to Seattle on standby".
Living outside TRD I hadly belive that 10 000$ is the fare frome TRD to SEA even in C class on standbay - maybee in A class. It is plenty of options frome TRD - CPH to SEA.
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Old Sep 25, 08, 6:24 pm
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Originally Posted by Lasiana_beach View Post
Did your father have a medical insurance?
Actually, this is a very important question. I'm not American, but I live here and after asking my wife last night, and she was positive that health insurance covers situations like this
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Old Sep 25, 08, 6:43 pm
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Originally Posted by 3tflyer View Post
Living outside TRD I hadly belive that 10 000$ is the fare frome TRD to SEA even in C class on standbay - maybee in A class. It is plenty of options frome TRD - CPH to SEA.
This is what Expertflyer has to say:
Code:
Fare Basis    Airline    Booking Class    Trip Type    Fare            Cabin
CNOOW         SK         C                One-Way      4987.00(USD)    B
Add taxes and fuel surcharges, and you will end up with >$10 000 for two. A class would be about 50% more, if it was available for TRD-SEA.
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Old Sep 25, 08, 11:59 pm
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Originally Posted by tommy777 View Post
Actually, this is a very important question. I'm not American, but I live here and after asking my wife last night, and she was positive that health insurance covers situations like this
And rule no. 1 is to never book anything before you have talked with the insurance company. I am sure these companies have special agreements airlines.
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Old Sep 26, 08, 1:31 am
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I have a hard time believing an insurance company is willing to pay a business class ticket unless absolutely needed because of madical reasons. And even then, would they pay for someone escorting the sick person?
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Old Sep 26, 08, 5:27 am
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Thumbs up

Originally Posted by Helsinki Flyer View Post
I have a hard time believing an insurance company is willing to pay a business class ticket unless absolutely needed because of madical reasons. And even then, would they pay for someone escorting the sick person?
Actually, if it is a real emergency, class of ticket is irrelevant. People are being transported home by an ambulance plane if necessary, costing considerably more than a 1st class ticket. But this is where you should read the small print in your travel insurance policy. And you should never make the booking yourself but have the insurance company do the paperwork and payment. Most travel insurance policies that I know of include covering the costs of an accompanying traveller if the tickets were sold together or if the two travellers live together as in the case of spouses.

I once had the unfortunate experience of suddenly having to return home from a holiday in Asia due to a sudden death in my family. When I heard about it I immediately contacted my travel insurance company, and they figured out how to transport me home as quick as possible. I got 1st class tickets for the next day, although I only held economy tickets. And since I were only able to have 10 days out of a planned 40 days holiday in Asia, I got a second holiday with return tickets free of charge, equivalent to my intended journey. I guess altogether, it cost the travel insurance company lots and lots of money. You should always plan for the unexpected and I would never travel anywhere without a travel insurance scheme
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Old Sep 26, 08, 9:55 am
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Originally Posted by Lasiana_beach View Post
Actually, if it is a real emergency, class of ticket is irrelevant.
Yes, if you contract Ebola in Congo, but the OP's father was already hospitalized in Norway and situation was not a "real emergency".

And you should never make the booking yourself but have the insurance company do the paperwork and payment.
But this is the crux of the issue -- you should have gotten the insurance company involved before you booked the flight. You'll now have an uphill fight to claim it back.
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Old Sep 27, 08, 4:46 am
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Originally Posted by Helsinki Flyer View Post
I have a hard time believing an insurance company is willing to pay a business class ticket unless absolutely needed because of madical reasons. And even then, would they pay for someone escorting the sick person?
Actually they would. On my travel/student-insurance I could travel on business class on their behalf when going home for my grand fathers funeral.
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Old Sep 27, 08, 9:19 am
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Still trying to see where SAS was at fault.
If the only tickets available were standby C class tickets, I'd think that Econ and Econ Extra were so overbooked that SAS couldn't even offer standby tickets in those cabins.
What prices did other airlines offer?
If the emergency wasn't serious enough to force the person to stay at the hospital, did the patient really HAVE TO go home on that exact date? Would waiting a day or two caused any medical risk?
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