Montrealer diagnosed with ALS fights airline for refund as health deteriorates

A Montreal woman diagnosed with ALS is battling Air Transat for a refund on a summer vacation, saying her condition has deteriorated too much to use a credit.

Antonia Iagallo was supposed to go to Disney World with her two daughters in August. She spent $1,500 on tickets for the trip.

“She won't be able to travel anymore so she wants her money back,” said daughter Antoinette Iagallo. “She doesn't want a credit.”

Antonia was diagnosed with the disease in November. Since then, she's lost her ability to speak and is required to use a feeding tube.

“She won't be able to travel anymore because there's so many issues,” said her daughter. “She has a feeding tube, she can't talk, she can't eat anymore.”

On its website, Air Transat says passengers will not receive a refund for cancelled trips but rather a credit.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the company said the airline does take into account special circumstances and can grant refunds on compassionate grounds. The spokesperson said the company will contact Iagallo but pointed out she could transfer her credit voucher to another person.

Iagallo contacted CTV News to say the airline did reach out to her later in the day to ask for her medical information.

Airline industry expert John Gradek said thousands of others seeking refunds have taken their concerns to the Canadian Transportation Agency.

“The CTA basically has agreed that this practice by the commercial airlines is acceptable,” he said. “It's not in violation of any regulations the agency has.”

But Gradek said the possibility remains for passengers to appeal.

Iagallo's daughter said obtaining a refund is not a small thing for her mother.

“She has so many expenses because of the disease and it's something important,” she said. “It's a large amount of money for her.” 

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