Cancelling a flight, with expectation on a refund, is a sticky business.We were supposed to be on our trip to Melbourne last month via AirAsia. One week before our departure, the unforeseen circumstances strike – a family member (A) became very ill.
I knew we had to cancel the trip right away. Cancelling flight and trip seemed should be the last thing on my mind, but this trip was planned since last year. Thousands will be lost if I don’t try to salvage. Accommodations and tours were easily cancelled. I happened to opt for free-cancellation option when I booked. What’s left, were our flights.
Then, I found this page from AirAsia: (For unknown reason, this page is no longer available)
There was a part mentioned – “If it is due to the illness of an immediate family member, please submit proof of relationship e.g. Birth/Marriage Certificate.”
I contacted both Live Chat and re-tweeted my question to AirAsia. By that time, A was already slated for a major surgery in the following week.
Finally, I got the answers: I need to provide a medical letter and documents to prove our relationship. I tried to ask for more info, but ‘medical letter’ was merely what they said. So, I submitted my cancellation with all the documents via AirAsia eForm under Enquiry/Request. Done.
A few days later, came the reply from AirAsia. My request was rejected because my medical letter is incomplete – doctor need to acknowledge that we were taking care of the A at the hospital, at the time of the supposed trip.
I called AirAsia X hotline which goes by the rate MYR1.95 per minute for more explanations. They were adamant that doctor’s acknowledgement was a must. Listless, we decided to put this cancellation aside and focus on A’s impending surgery.
Soon, A had her surgery. Doctor was very busy, and we can hardly catch him, so we talked to his nurse. The kind nurse asked for a copy of our flight booking slip (itinerary) and the next day, we got our letter!
To protect A and hospital’s privacy, I won’t share the complete letter here. It’s a formal letter addressed to Airasia and here was how it went:
I submitted the letter via another eForm again and received another email from AirAsia. My cancellation was approved, but I was warned about the additional charges. In my case, it was the cancellation fee per passenger per way. Also, my refund is in Credit Shell form, valid for 90 days.
How much did I get back?
My cancellation fee was RM140 per passenger per way plus the earlier non-refundable credit card processing fee of RM24 X 2 = RM48. Hence, we lost RM588.
Was it worth the trouble?
Not really. As we all know, all airport taxes for flights we did not board, are already refundable.
Here’s a comparison between:
- Only request for the refund of taxes, without having to provide documents or fussy letters.
- Request for full refund, subjected to cancellation fee and charges. Need to provide documents and fussy letters.
To sum it up, it depends on individual if they think it’s worth it to go through the trouble to get the difference of RM190. Of course, everyone’s flight fare is different. In addition to that, fees and charges differs by destination.
As a rule of thumb, always check out the AirAsia fees and charges, then compare with your flight fare (exclude taxes). I think there might be a scenario where the cancellation fee is higher than the fare itself, especially promo fares.
Here’s to summarize how did I apply for refund due to family member illness.
- Collect the documents needed – medical letter and proof of relationship
- Scan the document. You can protect privacy by scraping out irrelevant info by putting a watermark on your document.
- Submit via eForm under Enquiry/Request. Don’t use Refund/Flight Cancellation as it is applicable ONLY if flight is cancelled by AirAsia only.
- As there is only one column for flight number, insert returning flight number in the comment section. There’s no need to submit another eForm for return flight.
- You will receive an email, giving you the reference number which starts with CAS.
- Wait a few days for reply.
- After one week with no reply, chase them via Twitter or Facebook. Don’t bother to call the exorbitantly expensive service line.
When AirAsia refunded the flight fare to me, they made it a point that it’s a gesture of goodwill. Since the website (in the first picture) is now taken down, I foresee it will be more difficult to get cancellation and refund from the airline in future.
Perhaps, getting a travel insurance is a better way to cope with such situation. I always buy travel insurance (MSIG or AXA), but had the habit of buying it in the last minute. Hence, we were caught up in this sticky situation. Note to myself; always buy travel insurance earlier!
Disclaimer: This is just a post to share how did I submitted and received my refund for flight cancellation, regrettably not a fool-proof guidance.