Question: I have a bit of a problem. Earlier this year, I purchased a one-way fare from Lima to Fort Lauderdale on JetBlue Airways for my fiance. The tickets are non-refundable and they are dated for the day before his visa would expire.
He decided that he does not want to come to the USA and, of course, we broke off the engagement and the relationship. But now I’m stuck with a ticket in his name that he will never use.
If possible, I would like to change those tickets to my dad’s name. He is a US resident but he is currently in Lima. I am aware that the airlines will charge a fee for changing the dates of approximately $100 each plus any differences in the ticket price. What do I need to do in order to change the name from my ex-fiancé to my dad’s? — Maria Maness, Reno, Nev.
Answer: You’ll need a little luck and a lot of patience. Airline tickets like the one you booked are non-refundable, but carriers sometimes make exceptions to their rules. An airline like JetBlue, has built a reputation for being compassionate, may help you, but it’s difficult to say.
In the last few years, the airline has been seduced by the big bucks that ancillary fees and change fees can bring, and the conventional wisdom is that it’s preparing to sell itself to another airline.
So really, it’s a toss-up. You could get Old JetBlue — kind, understanding and customer-friendly, or New JetBlue, focused on the bottom line and making money at any expense.
The rules of your ticket purchase are clear: The ticket is non-transferrable. Airlines like JetBlue make them non-transferrable because it’s more profitable that way. A secondary market for airline tickets would be great for passengers and travel agencies, but would hurt airline revenues.
You can’t make an appeal to the government (the Transportation Department, which regulates airlines, has no authority to change the terms of your ticket) or to the airline, under its own rules. But you can — and you should — send a brief and very polite email to JetBlue, asking for help.
You couldn’t have known your fiance would break off the engagement. Travel insurance, which JetBlue aggressively sells on its website, wouldn’t have made a difference.
I offered you the names of several JetBlue executives from my customer service wiki. You wrote to them, asking for help. The airline made a “one-time” exception and re-issued a credit under your name so you can use it for future flights.