This article includes mention of suicide.
A grieving mother turned to TikTok for help following the death of her son. Jackie (@jackiep628) was excited to have her son and his soon-to-be-five-year-old daughter over for Christmas—she says she purchased tickets with American Airlines to have them come and visit.
Before he could visit, however, tragedy struck—Jackie says her son took his own life. While dealing with the death of her child, Jackie says she turned to things that she could control in her life, which included getting a refund for his ticket.
The response she received from American Airlines after she sent them his death certificate to prove he wouldn’t be able to make the flight was one she says was devoid of humanity. It left her searching for answers from other members of the TikTok community, who sympathized with her plight and helped take action.
“American Airlines won’t refund my deceased son tix,” Jackie writes in a text overlay of her video as she directly addresses the camera.
“So I email American Airlines with his death certificate requesting refunds for his round trip his two tickets to and from, from Tampa to Philly. And for his one-way daughter to get from Tampa to Philly,” she explains.
“What they send me back in response: ‘We’re sorry your travel plans didn’t work out. You purchased a basic economy fare. Blah. Blah. Blah.’ They’re not gonna refund me because my son’s travel plans didn’t work out. Wow. Do better American Airlines. Do better, will ya?” she says, crying into the camera.
Viewers expressed their horror with the airline’s response to Jackie’s refund request. One person wrote, “OMG American Airlines should be ashamed of themselves! it’s not like you want your money back just because! I am so sorry you have to go through this.”
Another remarked that the problem seemed to be linked to the fact that American Airlines was implementing what seemed to be an automated system for sending out the email. The commenter wrote to Jackie that they endured a similar ordeal and were ultimately able to solve their issue.
“You have to call and speak to a human,” they advised. “Happened to me when my husband passed. they will refund you.”
However, another user seemed to side with the airline’s no refund policy on basic economy tickets, writing, “I understand ur pain; however, the ticket purchase was not situational it was nonrefundable. Sorry.”
Jackie posted a follow-up video where she says that American Airlines ultimately came through and honored her refund request. She says that the company apologized and called the initial correspondence she was sent an “incorrect email.” J
Jackie would go on to thank someone on TikTok for getting her through to the correct department at American Airlines along with the crowds of other folks on the platform who sympathized with her.
She took the time to respond to people who she says left “nasty messages” about the tickets not being refundable being her “own fault.” Jackie responded that her attempt at securing the refund from American Airlines was a means of her looking for anything she could control in the wake of her son’s passing as a coping mechanism of sorts.
Jackie says what ultimately made her upset about the message she received from American Airlines had less to do with the fact that she lost out on the money, but more to do with an utter lack of humanity.
“No parent thinks they’re gonna have to send their child’s death certificate to somebody,” she says in the video. While she says she had no interest in becoming a “TikToker,” her first instinct was to go to social media to try and find a way for anybody to help her out.
Some folks encouraged Jackie to talk about her son online, like an online, free-form eulogy so folks could get to know him better, which she obliged in a recent clip.
Jackie’s case appears to be one of many grievances customers are having with airline companies as of late. Axios reports that overall customer satisfaction with airlines has plummeted in recent years: it dipped 22 points from 2020 to 2021, and another 7 points from 2021 to 2022, indicating a recurring downward spiral.
The Daily Dot has reached out to American Airlines via email and Jackie via TikTok comment for further information.