Lynn McKain Says A Lot Of Good A Voucher Will Do; Airline Doesn't BudgeBy Kristine Johnson

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — No bending the rules.

An airline has refused to budge even when confronted with a life and death situation.

US Airways has denied a refund for a Washington D.C. woman suffering from stage-4 breast cancer.

As CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reports, Lynn McKain and her family had been planning a dream vacation to Belize. The family booked five “non-refundable tickets” totaling $4,200.

But before the McKains could take off for their vacation, Lynn was diagnosed with breast cancer and advised to begin chemotherapy immediately. The McKains had to cancel their vacation plans.

When Lynn contacted U.S. Airways to notify them of her situation, and ask for a refund, her request was denied. US Airways offered nothing more than a voucher that would allow the McKains to use the tickets at another time. But Lynn McKain, who has already began chemotherapy, pointed out that tickets at a later date may be useless.

“Big deal — I may not be alive. What good is a voucher gonna do me?” Lynn said.

Even after receiving letters and medical documents from McKain explaining her condition, US Airways still chose to stand by its policy. A spokesperson told CBS that “unfortunately we do not offer refunds on non-refundable tickets, but we’ll work with her to waive her change fees, and make sure that she can use her tickets at another time.

McKain has held out hope that US Airways will alter its stance.

“It’s the human thing to do. It’s a compassionate thing to do…I would like nothing more before I die than to sit on a beautiful beach,” Lynn said.

In response to inquiries from CBS, a US Airways spokesperson said they could make the vouchers transferable so that a family member could use them in the future.

Do you think that U.S. Airways is doing enough for Lynn McKain? Should they giver and her family a full refund? Let us know in our comments section below…

Kristine Johnson

Comments (15)
  1. Consumer says:

    I think there is a fundamentally problem in the US airline industry. It is just soo wrong that US airway is soo inhumane. How about all consumers have a boycott on the US air and deny taxpayer bailouts….

  2. Jim says:

    Everyone who buys a non-refundable airline ticket runs the risk that something will interfere with their travel plans. Could be bad weather, a house fire, a health issue, anything. It may sound heartless, but US Airways (and every other airline) can’t possibly make an exception for this lady without opening up a floodgate. I feel bad for this woman, seriously, but it’s not the airline’s fault that she was diagnosed right before her trip. The airline did what they could – they’ll honor the ticket at a future date, and if this lady can’t use it someone else can.

    Like another commenter said – that’s what travel insurance is for. Refundable tickets are absurdly expensive, but insurance is only around $25, worth every penny in my opinion.

    For those of you who think this is worth “boycotting” the airline – hey, more power to you. But I think your anger is unjustified. And given what’s going on with American Airlines, the last thing the THOUSANDS of employees who work for US Airways need is people boycotting their company.

  3. tj says:

    the woman has been through enough, this is clearly a life or death situation and i certainly wont be flying US unless this woman gets fully refunded! too much comeptition out there to know that this could happen to me too.

  4. gimmeabreak says:

    ” US Airways offered nothing more than a voucher that would allow the McKains to use the tickets at another time. But Lynn McKain, who has already began chemotherapy, pointed out that tickets at a later date may be useless.

    “Big deal — I may not be alive. What good is a voucher gonna do me?” Lynn said.”

    “McKain has held out hope that US Airways will alter its stance.

    “It’s the human thing to do. It’s a compassionate thing to do…I would like nothing more before I die than to sit on a beautiful beach,” Lynn said.”

    So the airline is essentially offering her to be able to use the tickets at a later date without a change fee and she states she wants to sit on a beautiful beach before she dies. I don’t see the problem here. Is she wanting a refund so she can go out and search for a lower fare and pocket the difference? Sounds like the airline has gone out of its way to accommodate someone who bought “non-refundable” tickets. Pretty sure it doesn’t have fine print that states only refundable if you are diagnosed with cancer a few days before your trip.

    1. Monkey_Poo_In_The_Zoo says:

      Are you serious?! Maybe a walk in those shoes would change your mind. Do you realize how many ‘free’ flights airlines routinely give to personalities, tv shows, employee’s family members, etc., under the umbrella of goodwill/promotional consideration/marketing? This didn’t need to be public at all and should have been dealt with as good corporate policy rather than blind adherence to a rule. But US Air needlessly lost sight of what’s important for customers, and by extension themselves. The family got what they asked for – a refund (along with incalculable stress and grief during an already stressful time). Now, Useless Air got what THEY asked for! Who hires these robots at the executive level?!! BTW: Someone should think about damage control via corporate involvement with an established cancer charity. Just sayin’… 🙁

  5. VY says:

    I had a nonrefundable ticket to fly round trip from JFK to Florida on Jet Blue at the beginning of September.
    2 days before the flight I ended up in the hospital with a suspected heart attack after fainting.
    My wife called Jet Blue from the hospital to cancel my flights and expected to be charged Jet Blue’s standard cancelation fees.
    While on the phone with Jet Blue they asked what hospital I was admitted to.
    Jet Blue called the hospital to confirm the hospital admission.
    Jet Blue then cancelled my tickets with a full 100% credit that can be used anythime in the future for future travel.

  6. Sufrin Bird says:

    The company feels if they break the rules for customer then they have to do it for another customer.

    The fmaily should try and sell the tickets to someone else who may want to go on the trip.

  7. Anon says:

    Ha. The company I work for has decided to quietly boycott US Airways. over 60,000 employees work here, lots of traveling. Buh bye!

  8. Barney says:

    What part of non refundable doesn’t make since?

    1. Aunt Tootz, Spelling/Grammar Police says:

      “since”? I think you meant “sEnSe.” Unnnnnnnngh!!!

  9. Andrew says:

    Does traveler insurance cover having to stand because the guy in the seat next to you is so obese that he takes up your seat? Arthur Berkowitz had to stand for a seven hour US Airways flight because the guy next to him took up half his seat. The other passenger had to have both arm rests up and was literally sitting over Berkowitz’s seat belt

    US only offered him a $200 voucher instead of a refund. When he wasn’t happy with it (Who would be? $200 isn’t even good for another ticket), this is what they said:

    “…offering increasing amounts of compensation based on a threat of a safety violation isn’t really fair — especially when the passenger himself said he didn’t follow crew members’ instructions and fasten his seatbelt. The way to ensure you have space available next to you — whether you are a person of size, or you would simply like to ensure you have more personal space to relax on a long flight — is to purchase that additional seat, or First Class, in advance.”

    This is the level of service and respect that you should expect from US Airways. They are not doing enough for Lynn McKain or Arthur Berkowitz, and they never wll. I’m surprised they didn’t tell her it wasn’t fair to give her a refund because it’s her fault for getting breast cancer and not getting diagnosed sooner in the first place.

    1. Grace Handy says:

      These are two completely different cases and should be handled differently. Mr. Berkowitz obviously purchased an entire seat and should have been allowed to occupy it in its entirety. US Airways owes him a complete refund since they did not provide the service he paid for. In the case of Ms. McKain; the tickets her family purchased are non-refundable, and that means what it says. If you want to be guaranteed a refund if, for whatever reason, you cannot make your flight, then buy a ticket with the refund privilege attached to it.

  10. liz says:

    US AIRWAYS- SHAME ON YOU! That is pretty disgusting! I will BOYCOTT this Airline and I recommend that others do it as well!

  11. Christina says:

    Yes she is in an awful situation and I don’t think there is anyone out there that doesn’t feel bad for her not being able to get a refund (and for the cancer obviously), but that is what travel insurance is for. US Airways has given her options- including transferring her ticket which airlines will normally never let you do. The cost of insurance in general infuriates me so it’s not like I’m on their side, but travel insurance, business interruption insurance etc are available for whatever they cost.

  12. AuntTootzToldMe says:

    Boycott the damn airlines. Geeezzzz, don’t we have enough Grinchs the way it is??!

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