Southwest Customer Seeks Refund Policy Flexibility

Sister Georgeann Vumbaco has devoted the past 40 years to serving others, specifically, at St. Joseph School in Meriden.

Her most recent task: Represent Saint Joseph at Compassionate Friends, in Orlando, Fla. It’s a conference designed to help support families who have lost a child.

Sister Georgeann booked her ticket through Southwest in January, and four months before she was scheduled to take off, she received bad news of her own: After more than 100 years of educating children, Saint Joseph School announced it would close its doors for good.

“It was very difficult,” said Sister Georgeann. “It was a very tough time.”

Since the last day of school was in June, Sister Georgeann no longer had a reason to attend the conference in July.

“I was really upset that I wouldn’t be able to go to this conference, because I really was going for the purpose of being with the children in this school,” said Sister Georgeann. “So I did feel I needed to cancel it.”

She successfully cancelled her conference registration, but wasn’t as lucky with Southwest.

According to the airline’s policy, without trip protection, passengers can only receive airline credit for future flights. But since her only travels have to do with the school, that wasn’t an option.

“I was devastated because I wasn’t going to be able to go anywhere,” said Sister Georgeann. “So I started thinking about NBC Responds.”

NBC Connecticut’s consumer team explained her situation to a Southwest representative, who immediately offered to give Sister Georgeann a refund.

With $267 back in her pocket, plus some peace of mind, Sister Georgeann expressed her thanks in a way that she has likely heard many times before.

“I’m so grateful to all of you folks for doing that,” said Sister Georgeann. “And helping others.”

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