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An airline apologized after charging an American couple $8,000 to change their flight after the wife was diagnosed with cancer

Pete Syme   

An airline apologized after charging an American couple $8,000 to change their flight after the wife was diagnosed with cancer
  • Patricia Kerekes, and her husband Todd, cut their vacation short after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
  • Todd told Radio New Zealand he was charged $8,000 to change their flight to an earlier one.

Air New Zealand has apologized after it charged a married couple $8,000 to change their flight.

American tourists Todd and Patricia Kerekes cut their vacation short after Patricia was diagnosed with terminal gallbladder cancer, according to Radio New Zealand.

Todd told the radio station they booked return tickets in business class from New York to Auckland, which cost nearly $23,000.

The husband and wife reportedly flew to New Zealand in January and intended to stay until April, before Patricia was diagnosed six weeks into the trip.

On their surgeon's advice to head home, Todd said he contacted Air New Zealand to have their flights moved forward. They flew home on Monday, RNZ reported.

Todd told RNZ's "Checkpoint" program he spent four hours trying to get a more reasonable price — and that the new seats were only about $60 more than the ones he'd previously booked.

75-year-old Patricia has about four months left to live, Todd said.

"I resent having that four hours taken away from whatever time I would have spent [with] her, and I do not appreciate the aggravation that my wife had to go through for this," he added.

Air New Zealand's general manager for customer care, Alisha Armstrong, said the airline has apologized to Todd and issued a full refund.

"We pride ourselves on the care and consideration we show our customers. It's clear we fell short of expectations and our compassionate care policy was not followed in this case," Armstrong said in the statement shared with Business Insider.

"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," she added.

"Once again we apologize for how this case was handled and our thoughts are with Mr and Mrs Kerekes at this time."




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