Couple Charged Rs 6.5 Lakh For Flight Change After Wife's Cancer Diagnosis

Air New Zealand took note of the situation and apologised to the couple.

A couple from the United States was charged 13,000 New Zealand Dollars (Rs 6.5 lakhs) for changing their return flight by Air New Zealand after the wife received a shocking medical diagnosis, as per a report in Radio New Zealand. Todd, 60, and Patricia Kerekes, 75, were on a holiday in Aotearoa when she was diagnosed with cancer of the gallbladder and was told that she had only four months to live.

In January, they took a business class flight on Air New Zealand from New York to Auckland to stay until April, before Patricia was diagnosed six weeks into the trip. The 60-year-old called the airlines to reschedule their return when their surgeon recommended that they head back home right away. The return tickets cost 37,500 New Zealand Dollars.

“Right away on the first call I told them my wife was gravely ill, and we were on holiday and we needed to go back home,” he said. “And it was a whole series of long pauses, and I couldn’t tell whether they were conferring with co-workers or working at it on the computer, or what it was. But I would go through a whole series of 15- to 30-minute hold periods, and sometimes the people would come back and basically tell me something I didn’t want to hear, like it was gonna cost me NZ$13,000 to change my flight,” he added. The new seats were around $100 more expensive than what Todd had previously paid, he claimed, adding that he was “momentarily stupefied”.

Todd continued, “It was just such a large amount, it did not seem like the flights could possibly have gone up by that much. What they were charging me was four times what the increase in the cost of the flights were.”

He added that he was cut off on the call three times in his four-hour-long effort to get a reasonable price. He was neither offered any compassionate options nor was he asked for documentation or proof of his wife’s diagnosis. “They weren’t rude or unkind, but they were simply like, ‘Look, this is the way it is and there’s nothing we can do about it.’ And I was like, it was surprising to me that in a situation where I was that they couldn’t be more helpful,” he told the outlet.

Todd said that he was surprised by the behaviour since everyone he had met so far in the country was kind and friendly. “I grew up in New York, outside of New York City, and New Yorkers are unfriendly. We just tend to be brusque. But Kiwis are downright nice to the point where people were arguing with us that people aren’t really as nice as we thought they were. It’s not right by any standards, and it’s definitely not right by Kiwi standards,” he added.

Air New Zealand took note of the situation and apologised to the couple. They also issued a full refund for their mistake. General Manager of Customer Care Alisha Armstrong said in a statement that the company “pride ourselves on the care and consideration we show our customers”.

She said, “It’s clear we fell short of expectations and our compassionate care policy was not followed in this case. We have reached out to Kerekes to apologise and issue a full refund for the additional costs incurred to change their original flights. Our compassionate fare policy is in place to support our customers in times of unexpected medical emergency or bereavement to book a last-minute flight or provide flexibility to easily make changes to existing bookings. Once again we apologise for how this case was handled and our thoughts are with Mrs Kerekes at this time.”


Source link