Some refunds should be universal

  • By Christopher Elliott
  • Tuesday, June 25, 2013 4:08pm
  • Life

Question: I am sitting on a deck overlooking a park at a hospice facility while my mother lies in her bed taking a morphine nap. She will die in a couple of days.

My mother was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma last year. We had expected that she would be around for at least another couple of years. But last week she was given a few days life expectancy.

That bucket list cruise to Alaska, which is scheduled for next week, is not happening. I tried to cancel her trip.

The airline was more than accommodating. They said they simply needed a letter and some other details pertaining to her death, and I was told a refund would be no problem.

Princess Cruise Line, however, told me that they would not refund for any reason. They stated that if she bought the travel insurance they offer, she could get some money back, as long as it was not within two weeks of travel. It is within two weeks of her trip, so that wouldn’t have helped.

Is it true that Princess will now get paid twice for the cruise? They now have the opportunity to resell this space, This seems a bit unethical. What do you think?

Shannon Tait, Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

Answer: I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. Between the time you first wrote to me and the time I closed your case, your mother passed away. My condolences on your loss.

I looked into the details of your cruise, and when you said this was a bucket list vacation, you were not kidding.

Your mother was terminally ill before she booked this trip with her sister, and most travel insurance would not cover her because of her pre-existing medical condition.

This isn’t a simple question of a cruise line pocketing the money for a passenger who passed away. Your mother and your aunt were taking their chances by booking a cruise under these circumstances.

I can certainly understand their desire to get away together one last time, but they also knew they were taking a risk.

Could Princess have resold the cabin? Maybe. But that’s beside the point.

The real question is: What should a cruise line do when a passenger dies?

Airlines offer a refund, no questions asked. I believe that’s the right thing to do for cruise lines as well.

The Princess representatives you spoke with didn’t see it that way, mostly because your mother had not yet passed away. But after she did, I believe the cruise line’s position would have changed.

I can’t imagine any company not refunding a dead passenger’s ticket, whether she’s insured or not.

Indeed, when I contacted Princess on your behalf, it said her case was still “open,” meaning it hadn’t decided what to do yet.

After it reviewed the details of your request, it refunded both your mother’s and your aunt’s cruise.

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of “Scammed.” Read more travel tips on his blog, www.elliott.org or email him at celliott@ngs.org.

© 2013 Christopher Elliott/ Tribune Media Services Inc.

More in Life

This beefy ex-cop has a delicate hobby: intricate paper-cut art

You can see Tom Sacco’s creations at the upcoming Everett Art Walk.

Slow-roasted vegetables make sumptuous sauce for pasta

Make the basic but good spaghetti with red sauce blissfully better with this recipe.

Mocking meatloaf: One man’s loaf is another man’s poison

Some don’t like it and some do. Here are six meatloaf recipes to try.

Roasted Brussels sprouts can be the apple of picky eater’s eye

Toasted sesame seeds and diced apple add flavors that compliment the sprouts’ earthiness.

Arlington eagle fest wants your nature-themed artwork, haiku

Local residents of an artistic bent are invited to submit… Continue reading

Dylan Farrow says she wants to bring down Woody Allen

The 32-year-old said in an upcoming interview that she is telling the truth about him abusing her.

Kendrick Lamar, Sam Smith and U2 added to Grammys performance roster

Also unveiled is a performance by pop star Miley Cyrus and superstar piano-rocker Elton John.

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman listens to a guide at the Sci-Tech Complex in Pyongyang, North Korea, last summer. Rodman was arrested Saturday on suspicion of DUI in Southern California. (Kim Kwang Hyon / Associated Press file)
Rodman checks into rehab after DUI arrest

His agent says he’s dealing with his longtime struggle with alcoholism.

Hau Tran sings as Vietnamese seniors eat at Homage’s Center for Healthy Living on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 in Lynnwood, Wa. Each weekday the center offers its room for various cultures to get together for activities and lunch while speaking their native languages. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Seniors of four cultures gather for food, fitness and fun

Homage’s Center for Healthy Living offers a venue for programs in the seniors’ native languages.

Most Read