No medical waivers on US Airways?

Old Jun 22, 04, 5:57 pm
  #16  
 
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Originally Posted by BackOfTheBus
I guess maybe I've gotten to spolied by low fares... on the other hand, a roundtrip from AMS to TPA is $500+tax in June, so US was not being overly generous at a time of need.
Honestly, $500 + tax to Europe in June is a LOW fare! During the winter months, it's an average fare, but over the summer when demand is out of control (which apparently this summer demand to Europe is really high) it's quite cheap. My guess, too, is that US's flights were at or near capacity, so helping you out may not even have been an option. Remember, even if US could have worked with you per policy, there's no guarantee they could have per availability. Some folks are traveling on B, Y, J, etc. fares, and so US would naturally leave some seats for those buying tickets in those fare buckets that want to change their flights.

Did you actually look at ITN or some other site to see what was available on US?
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Old Jun 22, 04, 6:46 pm
  #17  
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Originally Posted by USFlyerUS
For what you wanted to do -- mainly, having an open return -- is definitely not available on very cheap tickets; it's not available with very cheap tickets on LCCs either.
All I wanted was to be able to book the return once my mom was feeling better. US Airways' stance was you either decide on a date by Monday night and pay us or your ticket has no value. Changing that hypothetical date would have entailed another $200 fee, if at all permitted (given that they already waived the 'no changes' restriction once).

Low Cost Carriers may not allow open returns but they do allow free (Southwest) or low priced ($25) changes to tickets. They offer no such 'NO CHANGES ALLOWED' fares, in contrast to US Airways.

Oh, and $700 ($450+$100 change fee +$150 ticket residual value) ONE WAY to Europe does not sound like that great of a deal. That's $1400 - Continental was selling US-Europe BusinessElite for summer travel for $1600 roundtrip (yes, with a long advance purchase).
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Old Jun 23, 04, 7:40 am
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This was not a "no changes allowed" ticket. You just needed to make a change to the return by midnight on the date of travel, meaning the ticket could be changed. Listen, I understand why you are frustrated, but from US's standpoint granting medical waivers is a slippery slope. Doctor's notes aren't exactly hard to come by these days. They were allowing you to rebook, but it just had to be done by a certain time. This is a risk you take when you buy a restricted ticket *and* you've already taken the outbound. (If you hadn't taken the outbound, you could have applied the ticket's value to a future ticket, just like on WN.)

Also, $700 for a last minute one way ticket from Europe is a good price, IMHO.
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Old Jun 23, 04, 8:48 am
  #19  
 
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Lightbulb If You Learn Absolutely Nothing Else At All About Travel, Learn This!

Since I joined FT in 1999 I think I have been telling people that it is fruitless to try these kinds of changes over the telephone. Even in this one thread, there are numerous anecdotes of pax unfriendly resolutions for people that presumably made telephone inquiries to US call centers. This concept fyi applies to all big six carriers. If you go in person your odds are in the neighborhood of 50 50 (maybe better) but if you try this over the phone your odds are again as stated very close to 0 if not 0. If you had to learn only like 3 lessons about travel, or even 2 lessons, this would certainly be one very important concept to learn, a "if you remember nothing else remember this one," type edict. Again you will not find this in any written policy, in the contract of carriage, in the USA Today, etc.

Let me tell you one real life story so you won't think I'm coming up with things purely out of my imagination, and I'll show you how my concepts clearly apply to the real world fact pattern. And again, the airline executives and spokespeople will deny these things happen, or try to pretend they are so rare, but these stories probably happen at airports across America each and evry day:

I was flying on a big six airline out of a major city (both shall remain nameless). I happened to be chatting with some sort of either supervisor or shift manager. We were near the security line. Suddenly, an agent came up and has the following conversation with the supervisor:
Agt: I have this pax, and he missed his outbound flight yesterday. I called the Help Desk, and they said he had to pay like $1,500. What should we do?!
Supe: Do you want me to give you the authority to just change it?
(if this doesn't show you the "agent likes you or not" factor, nothing will)
Agt: Well, no, I don't know.
(agent must have not liked the pax so much)
Supe: Well try to find something, just find another fare, and see what you can do.
Translation: Charge the pax something but not the exorbitant $1,500 like the Help Desk said.
Agt: Ok.

Lesson: Had our mystery pax dealt with res, they would have charged him $1,500 case closed! But at the airport, our pax had staff entertaining anything from a full waiver of all charges, to charging them maybe $100-some amount less than $1,500.

If you start hanging around and paying attention to details, I am sure you too might witness something like this. As one random pax put it very well once "these airline agents are like cops, they can do whatever they want with you."
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Old Jun 23, 04, 9:33 am
  #20  
 
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Originally Posted by jetsetter
if you try this over the phone your odds are again as stated very close to 0 if not 0.
I agree with jetsetter. And would like to add one additional point, IF you call and think you will get somewhere, then you're slammed with a "No", be prepared for your record being documented with "Advised PAX of restriction blah, blah, blah . . .

That further ties the airport ticket counter from helping you.

Bottom line, be nice at the ATO and forget the phone.
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Old Jun 23, 04, 10:07 am
  #21  
 
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If you need a waiver, do it at the airport...

Very good advice. Ask for a supervisor or customer service manager. Every airline has a slightly different title for them...

I've waived a lot of change fees and add collects in my time if I thought I had a good reason to do it. I could usually tell who was jerking my chain and who wasn't. This would certainly be a good reason to waive a fare restriction in my book! It is true that station management receives a report of who waives what almost immediately at most any airline. (I worked for AA, not US)

However, the posters are correct regarding international travel. It can be quite tricky to play within the rules, especially on super cheap bulk fare tickets.
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Old Jun 23, 04, 10:38 am
  #22  
 
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Originally Posted by USFlyerUS
Ah, this changes the story a bit. Some of the LCCs also have a "change by midnight on day of departure" rule as well, so this is not just specific to US. For what you wanted to do -- mainly, having an open return -- is definitely not available on very cheap tickets; it's not available with very cheap tickets on LCCs either.


Some low cost carriers, including AirTran, require you make changes at least an hour before your flight. At least US gives you to midnight.
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Old Jun 23, 04, 11:03 am
  #23  
 
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CP Desk? / Res

Is the CP desk just as rigid as general res, or will they waive things? I have read some posts also that the AA Exec Plat desk and the UA 1K desk may have more discretion, but still, I would go to the ATO.

Also one time I called res because I had missed a flight or something. You could hear in the res agents voice that they kept saying to go to the airport, even to go to the baggage service office. The agent seemed to say between the lines that ato could maybe help me, but they could not. The end was something like "and you can call us if you cannot get to the airport and we can TRY to help you," but you could really hear in his voice (without him saying it) that it was much better to go to the ato. At least there are some honest res folks who will tell people like it is. But it is an interesting and valid question to see if the likes of the CP desks at the big six carriers act differently. I still have not read enough anecdotes to have any kind of confident answer to that question.
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Old Jun 23, 04, 12:13 pm
  #24  
 
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For what it's worth, during June 2002, I had flights scheduled from TPA to ORD on US. The day before my departure, I came down with a severe ear infection, and flying could have resulted in a rupture of my ear drum and hearing loss. As an audio production artist, that wouldn't be good for my career. The hospital ER that I went to wrote me a letter of explanation to give to US Airways, and the next day, I went to the TPA ticket counter, got a security pass to go to the Club, and a wonderful agent there rebooked me with no fees and no further questions asked. To be honest, I didn't think I would have any luck, but I was pleasantly surprised. So, yes...do try at the airport, and use your Club membership/status clout if you've got it, along with your most polite manners.

Of course, on the other hand, things may have changed even since then, too. Or, maybe I was just incredibly lucky. Or, maybe the TPA Club folks are just very nice (as they've always been amongst my favourites).
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Old Jun 23, 04, 2:24 pm
  #25  
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entitlement

It never ceases to amaze me that many people treat an airplane ticket like it is something other than a contract. One way people avoid risks like being unable to fly due to illness (particularly in foreign countries) is to buy travel insurance. Travel insurance is VERY inexpensive. I think that getting anything from US should be thought of as great customer service. If you had purchased prepaid, fully non-refundable hotel rooms somewhere, then couldn't make it due to illness, would you expect to get a refund? The price of the ticket, or room or whatever, includes the fact that the ticket is nonrefundable. If you want to buy the "insurance" as a part of the of the ticket, then buy a totally refundable fare. It is regretable that your Mom got sick, but what has that to do with US?
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Old Jun 23, 04, 2:52 pm
  #26  
 
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Originally Posted by m60
If you want to buy the "insurance" as a part of the of the ticket, then buy a totally refundable fare. It is regretable that your Mom got sick, but what has that to do with US?
Thank you! This pretty much sums up what I've been trying to explain in this thread. And, the comparison to prepaid hotel rooms is also very apropos. The cheaper rate comes with it more risks should anything go awry.
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Old Jun 23, 04, 3:05 pm
  #27  
 
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Hotels

Hotels and theaters can and do (just as airlines) make adjustments to "nonchangeable" tickets, rooms, or reservations. From just my personal experience:
*For a while I was buying 3-4 rooms on Priceline a month, and one day I had an emergency. I was even surprised, but Priceline email customer service took care of it.

Similarly recently I bought theater tickets, but then my friends were going to go on an earlier date. The web site of course said "no exchanges/refundes" etc. But I called the theater, and they gladly with no protest changed my tickets to the earlier date.

I remember Labor Day weekend 2002 BBB tried to use the theater analogy to say how his airlines tickets were "truly nonrefundable" but in fact and reality theaters and sporting venues will work with customers in these situations on a case by case basis.

So hotels and theaters can change their nonrefundable tickets too. Really any industry can change anything. I mean at companies I've worked for we have had policies of "1 computer per employee" but certain employees have managed to say get a laptop to keep at home and a desktop in their office. You do bring up an interesting point though about the irony of all these companies publishing these draconian policies, which in fact if they want too, can readily be changed for customer service reasons.
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Old Jun 24, 04, 7:47 pm
  #28  
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Wink It never ceases to amaze me...

1. That an airline ticket is always referred to as the holy contract, while bus, train, transit and theatre tickets are simply 'tickets' (although they all come with a 'contract').

2. That 'insurance' always comes up when a company fails in the eyes of the customer.

3. That Western Europe (US's only transoceanic destination) is referred to as far-off and misterious 'foreign countries', as if it were Madagascar or Kyrgizstan.

4. That 'great customer service' involves not helping your customer or the company's own bottom line.

5. That people who rarely buy 'flexible' tickets on purpose (unless their clients end up paying for them via their company) tout them as a panacea to people in distress.

6. That everyone who's mother is sick and posts about it on this board is perceived as a 'whiner' and removed from the serious nature of GoFares and BBB discussions.
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Old Jun 25, 04, 12:06 am
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If the ticket was purchased on a Platinum or somesuch credit card, have a look and see what type of insurance coverage it comes with. It may be too late now, but I have found that these carry many benefits that I sometimes forget when I travel (accomodation during a missed connection due to a weather delay, etc).

As for phone vs station, I don't think it's a strict rule that station is always better than phone. I got stuck on a connection due to a weather-related cancellation, last flight of the day into BUF. Station looked at several other routings but it was either too late or the flights were full. I suggested getting me into YYZ where there was availability instead but station agent adamnantly said no as it is international, even after checking with supervisor. Couldn't even confirm me on a flight to BUF until 5pm the next day. Checked into a hotel and called Res; within moments I was confirmed onto a morning flight to YYZ. Wrote a letter to consumer affairs asking why the station couldn't put me into YYZ but the phone agents could, and they agreed with me (and the phone agent) and sent me a voucher on US for almost twice the cost of the hotel, and more than the original ticket had cost.
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Old Jun 25, 04, 8:02 pm
  #30  
 
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Exactly what I was gonna say. Even some gold cards (depending on bank) have trip calcellation insurance along with medical and stuff. Amex I believe you have to pay $15 per ticket, but Visa/MC in some cases include them for x amount of days.

Gagan
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