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'What more can I do?' Qantas rejects stricken passenger’s ‘compassionate’ refund claim

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 May 2024, 2:16pm
The former pilot was told his medical certificate did not qualify for Qantas' compassionate fare rules.
The former pilot was told his medical certificate did not qualify for Qantas' compassionate fare rules.

'What more can I do?' Qantas rejects stricken passenger’s ‘compassionate’ refund claim

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 May 2024, 2:16pm

A Queensland man whose travel plans were thrown into disarray by a shock diagnosis was told his condition did not qualify for Qantas’ definition of “compassionate” grounds.

Neil Ross, a former pilot from Brisbane, had been travelling to Cairns with his wife, using Qantas flight credit issued during the pandemic.

Having booked the travel through a travel agent, his travel plans were put on hold after he was diagnosed with cancer just two weeks later.

Talking to news.com.au, the 62-year-old said the health scare knocked him down “like a rock”.

After initially being diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, a short-term paralysis of facial muscles, his doctors discovered an aggressive tumour on the right side of his face. Ross was immediately put on a six-week intensive course of radiotherapy and surgery.

He contacted his travel agent to say he needed to cancel his trip to north Queensland for urgent health reasons, and inquired about a refund.

“As I said to the girl at Flight Centre – ‘look at my face, do you think I want to get a refund for the hell of it? I [would] rather be healthy and go on holiday,” he told news.com.au.

Following the operation to remove the tumour, Ross had been required to undergo plastic surgery to rebuild his right cheek.

While he had been issued flight credit for the trip, which expired on April 22, he explained he would still not be able to travel and asked about a fare refund on compassionate grounds.

However, shortly after he received a message saying his refund was rejected. The email dated April 24 stated that “the attached medical certificate does not fit into the QF guidelines for refund due to compassionate reasons”.

Ross said he had already applied for a refund and was rejected on April 4 due to insufficient detail. After submitting his medical records, he wondered what else the airline wanted as proof of his condition.

“I thought ‘what the hell, what more can I do?’ This has done nothing but cause me a great deal of stress that I don’t need,” he said.

Qantas has detailed information about their compassionate airfares and refunds policy, on its FAQs webpage and glossary of terms.

In the case of a refund requested for compassionate reasons, Qantas says “a waiver of cancellation fees is permitted due to the death or grave illness of a passenger and must be validated by: [either] a Medical Certificate [or] a Death Certificate.”

Following reporting by news.com.au, Qantas has since approached Ross to offer a full refund.

“We apologise to Mr Ross for this experience and have let him know we’re processing a refund for him,” the airline said.

The dispute reportedly arose from medical records not being attached to the earlier refund application.

This article was originally published on the NZ Herald here.

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