Have you ever been in a situation whereby you are medically unfit to travel? And to add salt to the injury, perhaps you are flying with low-cost airline such as AirAsia? This happened, or rather, nearly happen to my family end of last year. At one point, there was a possibility that my sister in law and younger brother might not be able to make it to Hong Kong, due to my SIL’s illness. This post might comes useful to those in the same predicament, as it detailed the preliminary discussion I had with AirAsia. But, as SIL was later deemed fit to travel, I didn’t go through the whole nine yards.
Promo fare or not, you need to know that AirAsia clearly indicates that “once the booking is confirmed, the payment made are non-refundable, non-transferable and the booking cannot be cancelled. But if you can’t fly due to illness or medical procedures, cancellation is allowed if you are able to provide doctor’s letter stating that you are not fit to fly. The value of the fare you paid will be converted into an Online Credit, which must be utilized within 90 days from the date of credit issuance. Note that a cancellation fee will apply. So, please do not scream murder when you are stuck in a similar situation ya. Any changes = fees and charges, and these are listed upfront on AirAsia’s website here. Daylight robbery, yes .. but at least the fees are in black & white. And .. other airlines impose the same cancellation fee too. In Trip Advisor’s forum, there were many complaints about not getting 100% refund. People need to understand what they have paid for. AirAsia’s fare may be cheaper than other low-cost carriers .. that is if you travel no frills, sans mistakes and changes. Otherwise, the fare might not be that cheap after all, with all the fees and charges.
Chronology of event
Our travel date out of KL was on 31 Dec 2016, an early Saturday morning flight. My brother broke the news 3 days before our trip. Having experienced slow response from AirAsia before, I chose to raise the issue on two out of their 3 channels: via AirAsia’s twitter account and e-form.
Wed 28/12/2016 10.04pm: Online form filled and submitted, received Case Acknowledgement auto generated response email
Thurs 29/12/2016 8.48am: tweet to @askairasia
Fri 30/12/2016 9.13am: Email reply from AirAsia, which I missed out
Fri 30/12/2016 9.59am: second tweet to @askairasia
Fri 30/12/2016 3.47pm: I responded to AirAsia’s email, explaining that my SIL has received clearance to fly; cancellation is no longer required
Tue 3/01/2017 12.29pm: Mon 2/01 was a public holiday. AirAsia sent me their reply on 3 Jan.
So, what do you need to do?
AirAsia’s reply says that since one of the guest is medically unfit to travel, they would be able to cancel the booking and convert the fares paid into an Online Credit Shell under an AirAsia BIG Shot account with a cancellation fee.
They need 2 things:
A medical letter is required which MUST fulfil the format below:
1) Hospital/Clinic’s Letterhead
2) Official stamp of Attending Physician
3) Medical Condition
4) Recovery period and unfit to fly till when
5) Signature of Attending Physician
6) Date medical letter been issued
They would also require additional supporting document as proof of relationship between guests, my brother and my sister in law for verification purposes. So, I guess this means their marriage certificate.
So, what is Credit Shell?
Credit Shell means the balance amount of credit in your AirAsia BIG Shot account with a 90 days validity from the cancellation date. This Credit Shell allows for multiple bookings for any remaining balance in the account. You can reserve the ticket for anyone via AirAsia website on any travelling date as long as the amount is used before the expiry date. Your actual date of travel can be after the expiry date of the Credit Shell. Either guest needs to be registered as an AirAsia BIG Shot member so that AirAsia may proceed with the Credit Shell creation.
So, what is the nett after all the cancellation fee?
|From Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong|
|Cancellation (per guest per sector) – International||MYR 100|
From their fee list, the cancellation charge = RM 200 (RM 100 per sector x 2 sectors).
|1x Guest||504.16 MYR|
|Airport Tax||105.00 MYR|
|klia2 fee||3.00 MYR|
|Total fare paid||614.08 MYR|
Total fare paid per person = RM 614.08.
|Airfare paid||614.08 MYR|
|Cancellation fee||200.00 MYR|
|Total credit||414.08 MYR|
Assuming my understanding is correct – Total fare RM 614.08 – Cancellation fee RM 200 = RM 414.08.
Even though the total lost accounts to 33% of the total airfare, receiving the balance 67% amounting to RM 414.08, is still quite substantial. RM 414.08 is probably enough for a round trip ticket to one of the ASEAN countries. My younger brother was prepared to lose the money spent; RM 414 is a windfall.
How about other airlines?
For the sake of comparison, I looked up other low-cost carriers’ cancellation fees and terms and conditions:
Stated in their FAQs here, if passenger is unable to fly due to a medical condition, it is possible to request for a refund with relevant supporting documents. A cancellation fee may apply, and it is subjected to approval or terms and conditions.
RM 300 cancellation fees for international flight is quite hefty, in comparison with AirAsia, no?
Someone mentioned that Malaysia Airlines charges RM250 per change for MH Basic plus the difference in fare. Also quite hefty, no?
One smart aleck told me, that’s why people should get travel insurance – when a flight is missed due to illness, customers could claim on their travel insurance. Have you ever had to cancel a flight due to a medical reason? Were you able to avoid cancellation fees with a doctor’s note? Share your experience and tips with other readers below!