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B.C. man fighting for a Sunwing refund after spouse dies of cancer

Mario Agnello and his spouse of nearly 25 years Art Luney booked a holiday to Mexico through Sunwing.

But after a devastating diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, Agnello decided to cancel the holiday scheduled for next spring.

"It went into his liver it was stage four, so I decided to call Sunwing to let them know what was going on and that we needed to cancel," Agnello said.

It was a situation he thought would be a simple fix, as the pair had purchased cancellation insurance at the time of booking.

Luney died last week, leaving Agnello even more determined to get a refund.

"They turned around and said, ‘I'm sorry sir, but there is no exception. Whether you're living or dying, we will not give you back your money, we will give you vouchers,'" he said, describing the phone call with Sunwing.

"They were very heartless. They had no feeling at all."

According to Sunwing’s website, the cancellation insurance only provides refunds through travel credit vouchers. 

“I told them I don’t want vouchers. I have to pay the bills now,” Agnello said, mentioning the rising cost of his mortgage and funeral expenses.

Right now, Agnello will lose his nearly $1,000 deposit.

The voucher-only compensation is a detail in the fine print that Gabor Lukacs, the president of Air Passenger Rights, says is unfortunate, but not fraudulent.

"It terms of humanitarian considerations, obviously, this passenger should be given back his money. But capitalism is not about humanitarian considerations. It's about profits,” said Lukacs.

“I would recommend getting your own insurance, and even there, I would recommend reading that fine print."

With few options, Agnello accepted the vouchers despite realizing they must be used with in a year.

“I’m not travelling anywhere. I’m barely getting by. You expect me to go on a trip … without him?”

It has been more than two weeks since he agreed to the vouchers, but he has yet to receive them.

Sunwing did not respond to CTV News after multiple requests for comment. The airline's insurance provider Manulife acknowledged it's looking into Agnello’s case.  

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