Penalised for trying to avoid Mers-hit country

Penalised for trying to avoid Mers-hit country

Several months ago, my daughter bought an air ticket from Singapore Airlines (SIA) to travel to South Korea.

She understood that it was a promotion ticket, which meant it came with conditions should she change her flight plan or date.

However, with the increasing rate of Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) infection and deaths in South Korea, she has rightly decided to postpone her travel, or maybe redirect the ticket to another destination ("Jump in Mers cases in S. Korea as 6th patient dies"; yesterday).

This is not a frivolous change of mind.

Imagine the shock and dismay when SIA gave her these options:

Take a $285 refund out of the $800 she paid for the ticket to cancel the trip, or

Pay an additional $889 on top of the $800 she already paid to postpone the trip.

According to the airline, this is the policy when there is no government advisory against travel to a particular destination.

My question is this: Do we need a rule cast in black and white to tell us it is not safe to travel to a particular place in the next two months?

What message are we sending to people who are trying to be responsible by not travelling to a Mers-hit country, so as not to bring the virus back to Singapore?

My daughter has an underlying heart condition, too, and we fear for her well-being.

We are not asking to cancel the ticket, but to enable redirection to another destination, so why the punitive charges?

Do we really want people to fly to South Korea now?


This article was first published on June 10, 2015.
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