[family|travel] The high cost of personal disaster

This past Sunday, one of Lisa’s elderly parents had a serious medical emergency. Not life-threatening as it turns out, but absolutely life-changing in the way of difficult eldering. Other relatives stepped forward to respond with immediate help, but Lisa needs to fly to Maryland next week to help with the necessary but difficult lifestyle transitions currently underway.

Lisa is now juggling my life-ending terminal illness and the life-changing illness of one of her parents. I cannot leave her alone with this.

Therefore I am flying with her to Maryland next week. She needs my support. We are both flying back to Portland on November 7th for my bimonthly CT scan on November 8th, followed by my oncology appointment on November 11th, then returning to Maryland on November 12th to further assist her parents. As Orycon falls on that weekend, I will still be in attendance there.

So with great reluctance, we cancelled our trip to Europe. We also severely truncated a post-trip engagement with my agent, and cancelled the visit of another friend who was due after Orycon, both of these to great regret.

The financial aspects of this situation have turned into a severe mess.

My $319.00 Eurostar ticket is non-refundable, and there is no compassionate exemption for medical emergencies. @Eurostar has offered an exchange for a future train fare, but as I am dying of cancer, the likelihood of me making it back to Europe to make use of such a ticket is virtually nil.

So there’s $300. I can afford it, but it’s irksome and unpleasant.

I have also sought a compassionate medical emergency refund from United Airlines which states on their Web site that they provide such consideration. Their response turning my request down flatly did not even acknowledge the nature of my situation, simply stating that my tickets were nonrefundable, but that I did retain an airfare credit.

I have since appealed this issue, and @UnitedAirlines is working to help me resolve this. It remains to be seen if there will be a refund.

This situation frustrates me immensely. At this extremely difficult time in my life, I am left with yet another large, unnecessary and expensive problem that I have to spend precious time and mental energy dealing with.

7 thoughts on “[family|travel] The high cost of personal disaster

  1. If the Eurostar ticket is transferrable, perhaps an auction is in order?

    1. Cora says:

      This is another good idea. If the ticket can be transferred, you could auction it off.

  2. Cora says:

    Could you perhaps transfer the replacement Eurostar ticket to someone else, e.g. the Child or Lisa? That way, at least someone in your family gets to use it.

    Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with the way Eurostar does things, since I never used it. I’m also boggling at the price, since inner European flights can be had quite cheaply, particularly if you’re willing to use a no frills, low cost airline. So there really is no reason to use Eurostar, except if you want to experience the Channel Tunnel. Which is of course a perfectly valid reason.

    Anyway, I’m sorry that you and Lisa have to deal with this on top of all the other crap.

  3. Laurie Mann says:

    I bought travel insurance last year before our trip to Alaska. It was pretty expensive – nearly 10% of the cruise/airfare cost – but between my illness last year and my parents being in their 80s, I felt it was necessary. I expect to do the same after buying the plane tickets for Worldcon next year.

    1. Stevie says:

      As I know from my own experience it’s very difficult to get travel insurance if you have a severe progressive disease. It’s downright impossible to get travel insurance if you have received a terminal diagnosis. Jay is stuck between a rock and a hard place…

  4. Ilsa says:

    At the risk of sounding as if I’m endorsing “nasty,” you might consider going even a bit more public with your complaints against United (unless you’ve already done so). They’re orders of magnitude apart, but when I had trouble with Kobo, I called them out on it both on Facebook and Twitter. That got an IMMEDIATE response–and I do mean, IMMEDIATE–in my favor. I see you’ve included their Twitter handle. But have you tweeted it, too? And FB’ed the hell out of it? Shame them into doing the right thing? Just a thought.

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