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airlines behaving badlyThis post is part of our “Airlines Behaving Badly” series, which chronicles the oft-wicked ways of the air travel industry.

A Vietnam War veteran dying of cancer recently had insult added to injury when Spirit Airlines refused to refund his plane ticket, reports FoxNews.com. Jerry Meekins, 76, booked a flight last month with the ultra-low-cost carrier to visit his daughter, who was undergoing surgery. But a couple of weeks later, his doctor told him that the cancer he’d been battling for two years was terminal and that he was simply too ill to fly.

Meekins’ ticket was nonrefundable, so the airline refused to give him back the $197 he’d paid, or to allow him to transfer the ticket to his daughter. Instead, Spirit has offered only a credit for a future flight — one that Meekins will likely never be able to take.

Spirit’s stance on nonrefundable tickets isn’t unusual in the industry. On most airlines, the cheapest available fares are “nonrefundable and nontransferable”; if you want the option to change or cancel your plans, you’ll have to pay a premium for more flexible fares. But it’s not unheard of for airlines to make exceptions to their policies based on extenuating circumstances such as Meekins’. Take this example from consumer advocate Chris Elliott, who successfully got US Airways to give a refund to a traveler suffering from from liver disease. Sure, we understand that rules are rules for a reason. But isn’t there any room for a little compassion?

The Real Reason Fliers Hate the Airlines

Apparently not at Spirit, where things seem to be business as usual. The airline’s home page is currently advertising its latest summer sale fares, illustrated by a woman in a bikini holding a couple of provocatively positioned beach balls:

spirit airlines home page

Stay classy, Spirit.

— written by Sarah Schlichter

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4 Responses to “Spirit Airlines Denies Refund to Dying Vietnam War Vet”

  1. Dorothy M. Santon-Johnson says:

    This would be a wonderful incentive to my daily writing. Of all the thoughts, memories, to jot down as they cone to memory, usually as your abruptly awaken on the middle of the night. Beautiful Blue…love the Old-fashioned look appeal it has! This would be perfect, for me…loi, as my hand just w rites and writes

  2. Greg says:

    I know one airline that I will never patronize now.

  3. John says:

    I was a passenger on Spirit Flight 615 from Boston, MA to Ft Lauderdale, FL on Sunday August 4, 2013.

    This flight was supposed to leave BOS at 5:38 pm and arrive at FLL at 8:50 pm. Upon arriving at Logan Airport about 2 hours prior to my flight, I checked the board to see which gate to head towards. I then found out that the flight was already listed as delayed until 7:10 pm. This was unbelievable. There were no weather conditions or any such thing to justify this. I called Customer Service and they told me it was due to Air Traffic Control, then they hung up on me. Their excuse was just BS. If there were such a problem, all flights to and from Logan would have been affected. I then went to the Spirit ticket counter in Logan and after some back and forth, they told me they were having problems getting the crew for the flight. Again, more BS. This flight travels every day, why a problem getting the crew. Do your schedulers even have any idea how to do their job? I want the name of the person at Spirit who made the decision to delay this flight and where I can find this person, so I can confront him/her directly. Anyway, about an hour later they changed the board and moved the departure time up by 9 minutes, to 7:01 pm. But this didn’t matter, as we did not even start boarding until about that time. Then even after the plane was boarded we faced more delays and ultimately did not take off from the runway until 8:30 pm. NEARLY 3 HOURS LATE! Then we did not get to the gate in FLL until about 11:30pm.

    Top it all off, they didn’t even offer free drinks on the flight, something very common in situations like this.

  4. Pat says:

    There is a website called Change.org that sets up petitions to redress actions like this. They can easily get thousands of signatures and comments in a day or so to petition the CEO of the corporation to take care of the problem. It also gives the offender some unflattering publicity. Can someone who is a little more tech savvy start a petition for Jerry and his family? I’ll be one of the first to sign it! Best wishes to Jerry and his family.

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