Lim: High road

Melanie T. Lim

DEAR airline executives,

The Covid-19 outbreak has now been officially declared by the World Health Organization, a pandemic. It’s time to take the high road.

In the last few weeks, I have been besieged by people holding unused airline tickets for canceled international events and travel plans. Everyone understands the situation. Everyone. Except you.

We are not upset that we are not going because we don’t want to go—not while the virus is raging. But we are upset by your vicious response to this virus.

For weeks, we have appealed for flexibility in your change policies. Your standard reply: no refunds and no change fee waivers except in the case of travel bans, restrictions and flight disruptions.

We are not unreasonable. We know you’ve been hit hard. So we accept your no-refund policy, but we cannot accept your refusal to waive change fees.

Why are you making us pay for postponing travel to safeguard personal as well as public health? Why are you forcing us to take our flights as scheduled by penalizing us if we don’t? Why are you being difficult when you can be helpful?

It is ludicrous for you to refuse to waive change fees because we are not travelling to China, Iran or Italy. The virus is now in 123 countries. At this point in time, it is unconscionable not to grant a waiver in change fees for ANY destination.

Why set oppressive deadlines for reissuance? Do you know when this pandemic will end? Well, we don’t know either. So why are you putting a deadline on rebooking and reissuance?

You know how we feel right now? We feel taken advantage of, betrayed, sucked into the vacuum of corporate greed. And we won’t forget this feeling—for a very long time. Long after Covid-19 will have been gone.

But some of you have behaved honorably—offering flexible change policies, even pre-pandemic. Some of you, however, continue to play hardball. Until today. We will not forget who you are.

You know what’s fair in the face of this pandemic? To give us the option to rebook our tickets with no change fees and fare differences or to give us the full value of what we paid for in flight credits, both options being valid up to one year from original date of departure.

It is not morally right for you to compel us to make a decision now when so much is so uncertain. Why force our hand to fly now and risk our lives or defer travel and allow ourselves to be penalized? How do you sleep at night?

These are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary actions. Isn’t it time you take the high road and find the moral courage to do what is right?

From the passengers who helped you build your company from the ground up.