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I was supposed to go to Columbia, South Carolina this weekend, but it was not meant to be.
My uncle (i.e., my father’s brother) passed away on Wednesday. The funeral was Thursday, near the Jersey Shore. My father, who is 90, lives at least 2 hours away from the Jersey Shore. Figuring out the logistics for travel to the funeral was difficult, but we were able to attend. In the Jewish tradition, my father is observing a mourning period, called shiva. As I am the only sibling in my family who lives near my parents, I know that I want to be by my father’s side during his shiva and that I therefore cannot go to South Carolina this weekend.
The flight from LGA to Columbia (CAE) is a Delta award ticket. The times of that flight had been changed significantly by the carrier, so I knew I would be able to cancel without penalty. The hotel that I’d reserved, a Hyatt Place in Columbia, was a points and cash rate, which I canceled without penalty. My flight home from CAE however was another story. It was on American Airlines, and I paid $131 for it. I was ready to eat the ticket if necessary but hoped that I wouldn’t have to.
The American Airlines website says the following:
Nonrefundable tickets generally cannot be refunded. However, exceptions may be available for refund of the unused portion of the ticket under the following circumstances . . . upon death of family member … the customer may be eligible to receive a voucher if the ticket is for domestic travel and supporting documents are provided.
I sent a message to the AA Twitter team:
We’re so sorry for your loss, Kathy. We know this is a difficult time and you need to be with your father. We’ll be happy to waive the change charge, allowing you to keep the full value of your ticket and use it toward the purchase of another ticket within a year from the original issue date.
I was ecstatic and grateful. I was surprised that the exception was made for the death of an uncle, rather than an immediate family member. I believe that the decision was based, not on the exact relationship of the deceased family member, per se, but instead upon the totality of the circumstances.
Here’s the catch. I bought the ticket on June 4, 2016. I therefore have to use the $131 credit and start the next trip by June 4, 2017. I have three trips already scheduled before that date, and not sure how many more I’ll realistically be able to plan. So, it’s still possible that I may have to eat the $131.
I am keeping an eye out for inexpensive flights, and even toying with the idea of a day or overnight trip to Boston to visit my sister (NYC-BOS is as cheap as $117 rt right now). Ideally, I would love to put the credit towards a weekend trip to Mexico City, but prices seem expensive right now.
Any other ideas? Is there a way to further lengthen the credit?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.