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British Air / refusal to change ticket to return for medical treatment

1 WV, United States

British Air CRS and Supervisors patently refuse to change my ticket to return to the US. They require that I be hospitalized in Ecuador BEFORE they will change the ticket. For obvious reasons, I prefer to return to th is e US for treatment. I have no problem paying a change fee, but they insist I buy a $1000 one way return instead.

This is not my first BAD experience with BA, but this one takes the cake.



Letter 1
December 11, 2008

Dear Sir and Madam:

I am writing to seek your assistance in a critical situation. I have tried to resolve this through Customer Relations, Executive Club, and on-line, to no avail. I have spent hours on the phone trying to change my ticket, been denied access to a Supervisor, and generally given the run-around. I booked a ticket to Ecuador on 9/8/2008, for travel 10/20/2008-1/25/2009. Unfortunately, I have become ill here in Ecuador. I am diagnosed with end stage renal failure, further complicated by the fact that my thyroid medication, Cytomel, is unavailable in Ecuador. I arrived with a 90 day supply, but the bottle was damaged in-flight and a large number of pills were destroyed by a leaking container of lotion. I tried to have the medication-t sent from the US, but the prescription was held in customs, and has never arrived. I have gone almost two weeks without this medication, and am in danger of needing hospitalization, which will be useless, as I have been told by 3 hospitals in Quito and 2 in Cuenca, as well as Dr. Martinez, that this medication is not available in Ecuador. Without that medication, I will not be able to survive, because my thyroid was removed due to cancer, I must have the supplement or I will go into thyroidtoxicosis and shock. I am under the care of Dr. Pedro Martinez here in Cuenca, Ecuador, and he has consulted with my doctor in the US. They all agree that I should return to the states BEFORE I require hospitalization, as my insurance does not apply here, and I am sure you can appreciate how unsetting it is to be ill in a foreign country where one has only a basic knowledge of the language.

Herein lies the problem. Executive Club will not change the ticket and refuses to accept a letter from Dr. Martinez, only a letter on hospital stationary.20They state that because my ticket was purchased with award miles, it CANNOT be changed, under any circumstance. Further, I have read my booking contract, and there is no clause that states that my mileage award ticket may NOT be changed. I am attaching the entire booking document to this email. In fact, there is a clause in the booking contract which states: “Where applicable, if you wish to change the date or time of your flight, or cancel your booking, the cost of doing so will generally be lower on ba.com (this feature is unavailable BA.com)…service charges are subject to change. I am perfectly willing to pay a reasonable fee to change my ticket, but cannot afford to purchase a new ticket.

Because of the severity of my illness, time is of the essence. I can provide a letter from Dr. Martinez documenting the severity of the situation, and lab tests to substantiate the critical nature of my condition, but I must return to the USA for the medication and surgery to initiate dialysis. This is not a procedure that I want to undertake in a foreign country, alone, and without complete comprehension of the language.

I urge you to review this booking contract, and your website, to substantiate that nowhere is it stated that a ticket purchased with award miles CANNOT be changed, fee or no fee. I also request that I be allowed to return to the United States for critical medical treatment before it is too late, and I am incapacitated in a foreign country.

Should you agree that the compassionate thing to do is to allow me to return to the US, I am more than willing to pay a change fee. Thank you for your kind consideration of my dilemma.I urgently await your kind reply. You may contact me at (a US number that forwards to my computer).

Letter 2

Sir and Madam:

As a followup to my previous email regarding the necessity to change my ticket for immediate return to the US for hospitalization, I have asked my lawyer to review the ticket, which is a binding contract, and the Terms and Conditions on your website as pertains to Executive Club members.

First, the ticket, which is a binding contract, states:

"Where applicable, if you wish ti change the date or time of your flight..."

Nowhere on this contract does it reference the Terms and Conditions of the Executive Club membership, therefore the ticket may be changed.

In addition, while the Terms and Conditions of the Executive Club membership, section 14.1, which ambiguously states that the ticket may not be changed after travel has begun, it is not binding in the US unless personally served on the member. I have been a member since 1997, and have never been notified of ANY changes to the Terms and Conditions of the Executive Club, by mail, email or even advised by one of your booking agents.

In summary, if you refuse to change my ticket, based on my immediate need to be treated in the US for end stage renal failure, my lawyer has advised me that we will hold British Air personally responsible for any and all adverse actions that may result from your decision. In addition, if I have not received notice that my ticket will be changed by COB, 5 p.m.December 12, EST, I will be forced to air my case on UTUBE,

Sincerely

Ni

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