Torrington Doctor Struggles to Get Refund for Charity Trip

A doctor in Torrington hit some turbulence with American Airlines when one of his employees quit unexpectedly before an overseas charity mission.

For 17 years, the optometrist, Dr. Matthew Blondin and his wife, Audrey, have headed up a charity eye care mission to Nicaragua as part of the Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH, CT).

"This is an opportunity for doctors to really go in and make a difference on people's lives," Blondin said.

But this year's trip hit a snag when Blondin bought an American Airlines ticket costing $1272.39 for a staff member who unexpectedly quit.

Blondin said he tried to get a refund but it was "impossible."

He said when the contacted American Airlines for a refund or transfer, they said, "Sorry, we don’t credit money. We don’t issue another ticket. It’s only good for that particular person."

"It would be one thing if we were maybe on vacation, but this is part of a charity mission," Bronin said.

Frustrated with American Airlines, Blondin reached out to NBC Connecticut Responds.

A representative from the airline told NBC Connecticut that Blondin’s reservation was canceled and said they would also authorize a refund to his credit card, but it could take up to five days.

According to American Airlines, a non-refundable fare for a ticket can be changed, but the customer would have to pay the change fee. Regardless, American does not allow a name change from passenger to passenger.

In Blondin’s case, the airlines said they refunded the ticket amount as a gesture of goodwill.

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