Family shocked dead man's air miles cancelled

ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 10:20 15/04/2014
John Philpott
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REST IN PEACE: John Philpott

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A Christchurch woman was "dumbfounded" to discover she could not use her father's shared Airpoints to book flights only a week after his death.

Jaclyn Philpott's father, John William Philpott, was diagnosed with lung cancer in September and died on April 5, aged 62.

But before that, he made Jaclyn and her mother members of Shairpoints with Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand's website says by "working together with friends and family", passengers can combine Airpoints Dollars into one Shairpoints account.

Jaclyn's father was an Elite member with Air New Zealand and had done "extensive" travel in his life with his computer software and hardware design business.

Yesterday, Jaclyn decided to book flights for her mother, sister and her to go on holiday to Hawaii together "as that was his wish".

A planned trip for a family holiday to mark her parents' 40th wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago "could obviously not go ahead".

John had thousands of Airpoints Dollars to his name, which, when combined with Jaclyn and her mother's, covered return flights to Hawaii for the three of them with an excess of only $370.

But when Jaclyn rang an Air New Zealand call centre to ask about business class upgrades her father had earned, she was told she could not book the tickets because "Dad was dead".

"I said if I had not called them and had just booked the tickets, Air New Zealand would not even know he was dead, but the man said . . . we would be voided at the gate," she said.

"I asked to speak to a supervisor and she was of a similar stance. She said that I could not book them even though I was clearly a Shairpoints spender on his account."

Philpott was "dumbfounded" and said while she understood the airline had "black-and-white fine print", she thought they "should also have a heart".

"It's basically, ‘You can share your points while you are alive only'. We have travelled extensively and exclusively and loyally with Air NZ as a family - until now," she said.

Philpott said she went ahead and booked the tickets yesterday, but she was "a bit scared" her family would turn up at the airport in August only to have their tickets declared void.

"We need an answer from Air New Zealand to say they will honour the tickets. It's really upsetting. This was Dad's wish . . . that we all went away together. We only buried him on Wednesday," she said.

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A spokeswoman for Air New Zealand said it was "standard procedure" for Airpoints accounts to be closed "on receipt of notification of the member's death".

"Airpoints Dollars are owned by the member and those not redeemed at the time of the member's death are cancelled unless a formal claim is made by the beneficiary of the member's estate," she said.

"In the case in question, once evidence is received from the beneficiary of the member's estate Air New Zealand will transfer the remaining Airpoints into the beneficiary's Airpoints account."

- The Press

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