Cayman Airways now requires passengers applying for the airline’s discounted, flexible air fares for medical cases to submit their requests via insurance providers or the Health Services Authority.
The airline, in a posting on its website, states that the change in its policy, effective as of May 15, “eliminates the potential for abuse.”
Previously, customers could apply for the medical air fare by submitting paperwork themselves.
On its website notice, posted on Thursday, the airline stated that discounted medical fares “are no longer offered to the general public without the involvement of the certifying entities.”
Following reports from some potential passengers who said they had been informed that the medical air fares had been discontinued, Cayman Airways spokeswoman Olivia Scott-Ramirez told the Cayman Compass in an email, “Cayman Airways is looking into claims of passengers being given inaccurate information regarding the certification process.”
Earlier this week, Margaret Fantasia followed her normal routine to book a flight for herself and her son Joseph so he could get specialist treatment at a hospital in Miami. She and her son have used the Cayman Airways’ discounted, flexible tickets several times to travel to Miami for the child’s ongoing treatment in the U.S.
Ms. Fantasia said she sent the airline a doctor’s note and appointment confirmation, as she had done in the past when requesting a medical airfare to take her 3-year-old son, who has an iron deficiency, to the Miami Children’s Hospital. A Cayman Airways representative replied by email, stating the airline no longer offers the medical rates and offering to help make a standard reservation.
The email from the reservation agent read: “We will be happy to assist you with making a reservation, however, please note that we no longer offer discounted medical fares to the public.”
Dr. James Robertson, a pediatrician with TrinCay, said the real benefit of the airline’s medical fares program is the flexibility – Cayman Airways allowed tickets to be changed as needed without additional fees or penalties, enabling patients and their loved ones to deal with the unpredictable without worrying about changing their flights.
“It’s uniquely Cayman in a really positive way,” he said. For parents of his patients dealing with so much worry and stress, Dr. Robertson said, the Cayman Airways program “makes it that much easier and just a little less painful.”
CINICO chief executive officer Lonny Tibbetts he received notice from Cayman Airways that as of May 15 the airline would only give the medical fare to the patient and his or her registered escort, which the insurance company already pays for.
“Any other persons not listed in the [travel registration form] will not be entitled to receive the medical fare rate from Cayman Airways,” he said.