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Cancer not deadly enough for compassionate flight change

A Lower Hutt pensioner suddenly diagnosed with cancer is preparing to fight the airline for a refund. Photo / Supplied
A Lower Hutt pensioner suddenly diagnosed with cancer is preparing to fight the airline for a refund. Photo / Supplied

A Lower Hutt pensioner with a deadly disease is stunned Air New Zealand is refusing to waive steep fees to change an international ticket after a shock diagnosis.

Moyra Poipoi said she booked flights to Sydney for a "girls' weekend" in August, but a month later was diagnosed with a malignant polyp in her bowel.

She was told she needed surgery to remove a section of her bowel either side of the growth, which the doctor booked in for the same weekend she was planning to travel.

She rang the airline to change her flights and requested a compassionate change to travel the following weekend.

"They said 'you'll have to provide your doctor's notes and everything', which I did, and they came back and said 'no'."

She rebooked her flights but was lumped with a $359 bill to change them.

"When I asked why they said 'you have to be dying' and I said 'but if I don't go for the operation I possibly could', but they said 'no, it's not a compassionate thing'.

"I just got really PO'd with them to be honest because I thought it was really unfair."

She argued her case to Air New Zealand customer service and was told she would be entitled to a $100 refund.

"I explained my issues and was told that Air NZ had a policy and cancer was not considered deadly enough. Now if I had had a heart attack or stroke it would have been different," she said.

Poipoi said cancer killed approximately 2670 people each year and the airline's attitude had left her gobsmacked.

"I'm a sodding pensioner so my money is important to me. I'm speechless over this debacle."

She said a partial refund was not acceptable and she would not settle for anything less than the original ticket price.

To further add insult to injury the company wanted her to fax through her medical records again to get $100 back.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said she sympathised with Poipoi and the company was in communication with her.

The national carrier had a provision to help customers travelling domestically under certain circumstances with a fixed price compassionate fare.

For passengers already booked, the company offered compassionate flexibility under certain circumstances.

If the customer held a refundable fare it was reimbursed without penalty.

Passengers were advised to buy travel insurance, she said.

But Poipoi said she was not happy with her treatment and not prepared to walk away without all her money.

"I will be going on my trip but I need to tell you this is not finished, I do not think i have ever been so upset and angry."

- NZ Herald

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