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I bought a plane ticket from Turkish Airlines, 2 months before the flight. Then I went to the doctor, and the doctor said I have a health problem, which specifically forbids me to take flights for one month.

I have a valid doctor's note too. I can document this in any valid type. Does it makes me eligible for a full refund?

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    Read the terms and conditions. Most airlines in this situation would refund your money. Ask politely. – user 56513 Aug 3 '18 at 10:06
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    How did you pay for the ticket? Many credit cards provide some sort of travel benefit, which may include trip cancellation insurance. On the other hand, the trip cancellation insurance for even travel-centric cards might not cover being advised by a doctor not to travel, if it's related to a condition you already had when you purchased the ticket. – Ben Voigt Aug 3 '18 at 13:03
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    @BenVoigt in my (admittedly limited) experience, it's not so important whether the condition existed at the time of purchase but whether it had been diagnosed. – phoog Aug 3 '18 at 15:37
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    @BenVoigt I don't see what you're talking about. Which example is it? "Traveling against the advice of a physician" is not covered, but does not apply to this case because OP is specifically seeking to avoid traveling against the advice of a physician. Pre-existing condition is a term of art in the insurance industry based on diagnosis rather than actual existence. – phoog Aug 3 '18 at 15:53
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    @BenVoigt that's what I assumed it meant. That is, if your doctor says that travel is likely to lead to a certain health problem then developing that problem would not be covered (if, for example, it compelled you to cut your trip short). But that list is long on vagueness. Perhaps there's some fine print somewhere with more specific conditions. – phoog Aug 3 '18 at 16:50
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The conditions of carriage for your ticket do not include a provision for a refund in this case. Though there is a provision (3.2.1.3) to extend the validity of your tickets if you can't travel due to illness, but it only applies if you get sick once your trip starts.

However, many airlines will make accommodations in such situations as a customer service gesture. You can contact the airline, explain the situation, tell them you have a doctor's note, and politely ask if they can grant a refund. If they aren't able to do so, you might ask for a supervisor to see if they can make an exception. If their policy forbids a refund (airlines are generally quite reluctant to ever refund non-refundable tickets), they may be able to provide a lesser remedy, such as allowing you to reschedule the flight without paying a change fee.

If that fails, you could contact a travel advocacy journalist like Christopher Elliott to see if they can get anywhere with the airline. His site also has contact information for Turkish Airlines management (see advice on writing for help), who would be the final word on what the airline will do in this situation.

If you have travel insurance, this may be a reason for a claim as well.

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    Remember: when you're talking with the customer service people, be the kind of person they will want to help !! They spend all day dealing with people who are jerks to them. If you treat them like a human being, they're much more likely to return the favor. Do it as soon as possible -- the longer it is before the flight, the less "cost" there is in refunding your ticket, since they have more opportunity to sell it to someone else. – Jeffiekins Aug 3 '18 at 15:15
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    It is ironic for someone labeling themselves as a "travel advocate" to greet international users with this prohibitory page. – undercat supports Monica Aug 5 '18 at 8:31
  • @undercat Sorry, that's really irritating. I don't know why that's the case. – Zach Lipton Aug 5 '18 at 8:54
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    The contract of carriage is only one of the places that a condition for refund could be listed. The fare rules are far more relevant, and will depend on the exact fare booked. That said, most TK fares explicitly exclude refunds due to medical reasons ("NOT PERMITTED EVEN FOR MEDICAL REASON") – Doc Aug 5 '18 at 8:55
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As the accepted answer says, your airline doesn't have a policy to provide refunds in that case, but you may be able to get one with a personal approach.

In the event you don't succeed, you can still get a refund on airport fees and taxes. In low cost tickets (which nonrefundable ones generally are), these can amount to half the cost.

Don't settle for this, though, only as a last resort. A medical condition is a very strong reason for a full refund.

  • "Low-cost" doesn't have much to do with it. Even tickets with full-service airlines are typically non-refundable, unless you pay a lot extra for a refundable one. – David Richerby Aug 4 '18 at 19:44
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    FSA tend to be more permissive with their return policies (health, visa, other reasons). But yes, non-refundable ones are common with both, LCC are just much harder on this concept. Turkish used to be a FSA, but has shifted about as much towards the LCC model as they could - not that they are distinct classes anymore anyway. – Therac Aug 4 '18 at 20:29
  • @DavidRicherby The point is that with more expensive airlines, taxes and airport fees are a much smaller proportion of the total cost, and so any refund of just those costs will be proportionally smaller. – Mike Scott Aug 5 '18 at 5:58
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Speaking from experience, although only one particular case. My father-in-law was planning to visit us in UK from Georgia, flying with Turkish Airline. About a week before the planned trip, he was admitted to hospital in relation to a previously undiagnosed heart problem - and he was actually still in hospital on the day of the planned travel.

The ticket was a non-refundable, non-exchangeable, etc, etc. (i.e. the cheapest possible). With a note from the hospital, the airline agreed to refund the actual price of the ticket, but not the taxes and airport fees, as they don't control those. In our case, it was about half the ticket price. The remainder of the costs (i.e. taxes, fees, etc.) were covered by his travel insurance (minus USD $25 deductible).

All in all, we lost about $25 out of about $400 cost of the ticket - better than losing everything.

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In this situation it will be especially important to have a note written from the doctor. Typically there is a processing or cancellation fee so don’t expect a full refund. You might be better able to pursuade them to give you a credit that you would have to use within the year. When you call the airline, the first person you will speak to usually doesn’t have the authority to do anything beyond the standard policy. If you are hoping to make the cancellation and get a refund or a credit, you will likely have to escalate to a manager. I encourage you to be kind as you will likely get a better result.

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