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Compassionate flights to the UK

Compassionate flights to the UK

Old Nov 5th 2006, 6:06 pm
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Unhappy Compassionate flights to the UK

As we all know, the saddest part of being an expat is when close family and friends back home in the UK are dangerously ill or have died.

My husband has had the phone call to inform him that his mother is dying (she's been going downhill for the past couple of years with Alzheimer's, Menieres Disease (where fluid in your head is not balanced so you fall over) and recurring kidney infections. She's been admitted to hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, with kidney failure, it's unlikely that she's going to pull through and she's unconscious.

My husband decided to travel back to the UK tonight as he'd like to try and see her before she dies and looked up the flight prices with BA and Virgin from Newark, NJ to Heathrow. He prefers to fly with BA as he's in the Exec club as he often has to fly to Geneva or beyond and gets airmiles. However, the flight prices on the airline's internet sites were very high for a flight departing on the same day and including airport taxes and returning (tentatively) on 11 Nov:

Virgin Atlantic $1428.00

BA $1737.77

Those prices are for 1 passenger in economy

I suggested to my spouse to phone up BA and explain the situation. They asked for his mother's name but nothing about which hospital etc. After waiting for a few minutes, they said they could get him on a flight tonight for a fare of $650 including taxes.

This will also enable him up to two changes of flight date free of charge (as she is at the time of writing still alive and funeral arrangements obviously not made) and no penalty for a flight cancellation. If he does make changes then he would need to provide proof, eg. death certificate or letter from the hospital (presumably at check-in). He was given the name of the operator at the call centre to quote if he does need to change his flights.

I thought I would share as in these situations it is obviously best to call the airlines direct. If necessary I will fly over later this week if a funeral has been planned. As we are still on visas, the company will pick up the tab for the flights as it is company policy for their expats on overseas postings.....anyone planning to come over on an L or H visa should perhaps bear this in mind when negotiating their T's and C's in their contracts.
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Old Nov 5th 2006, 6:14 pm
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Default Re: Compassionate flights to the UK

Originally Posted by Englishmum
As we all know, the saddest part of being an expat is when close family and friends back home in the UK are dangerously ill or have died.

My husband has had the phone call to inform him that his mother is dying (she's been going downhill for the past couple of years with Alzheimer's, Menieres Disease (where fluid in your head is not balanced so you fall over) and recurring kidney infections. She's been admitted to hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, with kidney failure, it's unlikely that she's going to pull through and she's unconscious.

My husband decided to travel back to the UK tonight as he'd like to try and see her before she dies and looked up the flight prices with BA and Virgin from Newark, NJ to Heathrow. He prefers to fly with BA as he's in the Exec club as he often has to fly to Geneva or beyond and gets airmiles. However, the flight prices on the airline's internet sites were very high for a flight departing on the same day and including airport taxes and returning (tentatively) on 11 Nov:

Virgin Atlantic $1428.00

BA $1737.77

Those prices are for 1 passenger in economy

I suggested to my spouse to phone up BA and explain the situation. They asked for his mother's name but nothing about which hospital etc. After waiting for a few minutes, they said they could get him on a flight tonight for a fare of $650 including taxes.

This will also enable him up to two changes of flight date free of charge (as she is at the time of writing still alive and funeral arrangements obviously not made) and no penalty for a flight cancellation. If he does make changes then he would need to provide proof, eg. death certificate or letter from the hospital (presumably at check-in). He was given the name of the operator at the call centre to quote if he does need to change his flights.

I thought I would share as in these situations it is obviously best to call the airlines direct. If necessary I will fly over later this week if a funeral has been planned. As we are still on visas, the company will pick up the tab for the flights as it is company policy for their expats on overseas postings.....anyone planning to come over on an L or H visa should perhaps bear this in mind when negotiating their T's and C's in their contracts.

Thank you so much for sharing this information..
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Old Nov 5th 2006, 8:33 pm
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Default Re: Compassionate flights to the UK

Really sorry to hear this, EM. I hope your husband makes it home in time to see his mum. It's the call we all dread, and then you have to do so much in a short space of time. I appreciate the info about BA.
Hugs to you both,
Jan
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Old Nov 5th 2006, 8:59 pm
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Default Re: Compassionate flights to the UK

Originally Posted by Englishmum
As we all know, the saddest part of being an expat is when close family and friends back home in the UK are dangerously ill or have died.

My husband has had the phone call to inform him that his mother is dying (she's been going downhill for the past couple of years with Alzheimer's, Menieres Disease (where fluid in your head is not balanced so you fall over) and recurring kidney infections. She's been admitted to hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, with kidney failure, it's unlikely that she's going to pull through and she's unconscious.

My husband decided to travel back to the UK tonight as he'd like to try and see her before she dies and looked up the flight prices with BA and Virgin from Newark, NJ to Heathrow. He prefers to fly with BA as he's in the Exec club as he often has to fly to Geneva or beyond and gets airmiles. However, the flight prices on the airline's internet sites were very high for a flight departing on the same day and including airport taxes and returning (tentatively) on 11 Nov:

Virgin Atlantic $1428.00

BA $1737.77

Those prices are for 1 passenger in economy

I suggested to my spouse to phone up BA and explain the situation. They asked for his mother's name but nothing about which hospital etc. After waiting for a few minutes, they said they could get him on a flight tonight for a fare of $650 including taxes.

This will also enable him up to two changes of flight date free of charge (as she is at the time of writing still alive and funeral arrangements obviously not made) and no penalty for a flight cancellation. If he does make changes then he would need to provide proof, eg. death certificate or letter from the hospital (presumably at check-in). He was given the name of the operator at the call centre to quote if he does need to change his flights.

I thought I would share as in these situations it is obviously best to call the airlines direct. If necessary I will fly over later this week if a funeral has been planned. As we are still on visas, the company will pick up the tab for the flights as it is company policy for their expats on overseas postings.....anyone planning to come over on an L or H visa should perhaps bear this in mind when negotiating their T's and C's in their contracts.




Great info to know (although I pray I never have to use it ) I feel for you and your family and hope that your husband gets to see his mum before it is too late.
Best wishes.
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Old Nov 5th 2006, 9:00 pm
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Default Re: Compassionate flights to the UK

Originally Posted by Englishmum
As we all know, the saddest part of being an expat is when close family and friends back home in the UK are dangerously ill or have died.

My husband has had the phone call to inform him that his mother is dying (she's been going downhill for the past couple of years with Alzheimer's, Menieres Disease (where fluid in your head is not balanced so you fall over) and recurring kidney infections. She's been admitted to hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, with kidney failure, it's unlikely that she's going to pull through and she's unconscious.

My husband decided to travel back to the UK tonight as he'd like to try and see her before she dies and looked up the flight prices with BA and Virgin from Newark, NJ to Heathrow. He prefers to fly with BA as he's in the Exec club as he often has to fly to Geneva or beyond and gets airmiles. However, the flight prices on the airline's internet sites were very high for a flight departing on the same day and including airport taxes and returning (tentatively) on 11 Nov:

Virgin Atlantic $1428.00

BA $1737.77

Those prices are for 1 passenger in economy

I suggested to my spouse to phone up BA and explain the situation. They asked for his mother's name but nothing about which hospital etc. After waiting for a few minutes, they said they could get him on a flight tonight for a fare of $650 including taxes.

This will also enable him up to two changes of flight date free of charge (as she is at the time of writing still alive and funeral arrangements obviously not made) and no penalty for a flight cancellation. If he does make changes then he would need to provide proof, eg. death certificate or letter from the hospital (presumably at check-in). He was given the name of the operator at the call centre to quote if he does need to change his flights.

I thought I would share as in these situations it is obviously best to call the airlines direct. If necessary I will fly over later this week if a funeral has been planned. As we are still on visas, the company will pick up the tab for the flights as it is company policy for their expats on overseas postings.....anyone planning to come over on an L or H visa should perhaps bear this in mind when negotiating their T's and C's in their contracts.

I'm sorry to hear about your husband's mother. Funningly enough, my husband's nan just past away this past September (she lived in Pitsea, so I'm imagining it might be the same hospital as your MIL, or close enough) and my poor husband could not go. We figured the flight prices would be outrageously expensive. Its good to know about this for future reference.
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Old Nov 5th 2006, 9:54 pm
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Default Re: Compassionate flights to the UK

Sorry to hear bout MIL

As for compassionate pricing....each airline has their own rules about what they need and the prices you get, some require a letter from the hospital if someone is sick before issuing your ticket for instance...so as much as it sucks, it could probably worth checking out before anyone needs to, especially if they have a choice of airlines in which to fly with.
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Old Nov 5th 2006, 10:00 pm
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Post Re: Compassionate flights to the UK

Hello Englishmum,

I hope your husband makes it to see his Mother. I was in a similar situation last year with my sister be very ill... Continental were great!

My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

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Old Nov 7th 2006, 1:27 am
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Default Re: Compassionate flights to the UK

Thanks for all your kind thoughts.

My husband picked up a rental car at Heathrow and drove to Essex. He can't stay at his sister's house (out in the sticks near Stansted airport) as she's got builders in, so he booked one night at a Travelodge in the commuter village near Epping where our house is (but can't stay there is we rent it out). He then found out that he can't do any work due to no internet - he needs high speed, I think they had dial up or no internet facility at all. He will be checking into an hotel in Chelmsford tomorrow.

At visiting time he went over to the hospital and spent 5 hours with his mum (poor devil must have been jetlagged after flying in on the 'red-eye'). She was unconscious the whole time and had tubes for fluids going in and out of her. She isn't on painkillers as she's comatose and can't feel pain, is on constant oxygen and is not responding when the doctors prick her with pins. She is having involuntary spams. To be honest, with her Alzheimers she doesn't even recognise her 4 sons, only her daughter but if she awakes who knows if she would even recognise her now?

I don't know how long she can remain like this - I don't know if she is being fed intravenously but patients apparently can survive for quite some time just by being kept hydrated (she's on a saline drip). It's her birthday in a couple of weeks and she will be 81.

My husband's sister has been the main caregiver really - the burden sort of fell on her as she's never married - and their mother chose to move to a town close to where her daughter lives and they're very close to each other. She does not want their mother to die on her own as apparently some people become quite lucid just at the point of death - so she is trying to arrange it that someone is with their mother at all times....not easy when the other 4 siblings are her brothers living in various parts of the UK/US and all of them have to go to work - indeed one had to fly off on a business trip to Venezuela after visiting their mother on Sunday.

It's a horrible situation.

It's at times like this when you really appreciate the NHS; no charge for the ambulance, no charge for the hospital stay or treatment....she's been in for 5 nights so far and I dread to think how much the charges would have been here in the US.
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Old Nov 7th 2006, 1:32 am
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Default Re: Compassionate flights to the UK

Sorry to hear about the situation Englishmum. Very hard to be so far away at this time.
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Old Nov 7th 2006, 5:42 am
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Default Re: Compassionate flights to the UK

When I flew back to my mother's funeral a few years ago (July, from SF), BA wouldn't do a thing and wanted to charge me $3k. Virgin Atlantic waived advance booking requirements and sold me a ticket for around $800. Always worth asking and since I've always given Virgin preference.
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Old Nov 7th 2006, 6:18 am
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Default Re: Compassionate flights to the UK

Sorry to hear about your husbands 'emergency' visit to the uk. - i know exactly how you guys must be feeling, i had to rush over to the UK about 3 months ago as my mother had been ill and geting worse, i got the phone call telling me to drag myself onto a plane asap - i was lucky that i made it to my mums hospital bedside 3 hrs before she died (she was unconcious too) - i hope he has more time with her than i did with my mum, though sometimes its bettter (sounds horrible) if its not drawn out, i know how shocking it was for myself to see my mum as she was before she finally died - good luck.


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Old Nov 7th 2006, 8:40 am
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My thoughts and prayers are with you Englishmum..
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Old Nov 7th 2006, 8:45 am
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Default Re: Compassionate flights to the UK

Sad news indeed

I know a friend who lives in Canada, was on holiday in the west indies and had flown there with some airline (can't remember which) got news while there that her dad had died. She tried lots of airlines, but Virgin not only flew her to the UK, they flew her back to the windies for nothing


I do hope everything turns out ok for your hubby.
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Old Nov 7th 2006, 8:54 am
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my thoughts and best wishes are with you at this terrible time
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Old Nov 7th 2006, 10:00 am
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Default Re: Compassionate flights to the UK

Originally Posted by Englishmum
As we all know, the saddest part of being an expat is when close family and friends back home in the UK are dangerously ill or have died.

My husband has had the phone call to inform him that his mother is dying (she's been going downhill for the past couple of years with Alzheimer's, Menieres Disease (where fluid in your head is not balanced so you fall over) and recurring kidney infections. She's been admitted to hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, with kidney failure, it's unlikely that she's going to pull through and she's unconscious.

My husband decided to travel back to the UK tonight as he'd like to try and see her before she dies and looked up the flight prices with BA and Virgin from Newark, NJ to Heathrow. He prefers to fly with BA as he's in the Exec club as he often has to fly to Geneva or beyond and gets airmiles. However, the flight prices on the airline's internet sites were very high for a flight departing on the same day and including airport taxes and returning (tentatively) on 11 Nov:

Virgin Atlantic $1428.00

BA $1737.77

Those prices are for 1 passenger in economy

I suggested to my spouse to phone up BA and explain the situation. They asked for his mother's name but nothing about which hospital etc. After waiting for a few minutes, they said they could get him on a flight tonight for a fare of $650 including taxes.

This will also enable him up to two changes of flight date free of charge (as she is at the time of writing still alive and funeral arrangements obviously not made) and no penalty for a flight cancellation. If he does make changes then he would need to provide proof, eg. death certificate or letter from the hospital (presumably at check-in). He was given the name of the operator at the call centre to quote if he does need to change his flights.

I thought I would share as in these situations it is obviously best to call the airlines direct. If necessary I will fly over later this week if a funeral has been planned. As we are still on visas, the company will pick up the tab for the flights as it is company policy for their expats on overseas postings.....anyone planning to come over on an L or H visa should perhaps bear this in mind when negotiating their T's and C's in their contracts.
Thanks for taking the time to post this information. Its good to know BA has a heart.
Best wishes to you.
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