Action 9 investigates tough airline policy

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ORLANDO,Fla. —

Action 9 investigates one of the toughest airline ticket refund policies anywhere. Two families called after they suffered serious medical problems just days before their Allegiant Air flights.

Five days before the flight, Bonnie Marinelli found out she could not travel because her husband was very ill. That's when she says she first heard about Allegiant Air's policy.

If you cancel within seven days of flying, you can't rebook for a fee and no refund.

“Why can't I use my ticket that I paid for at a later time due to the circumstances,” asked Marinelli.

Marinelli reached customer service to challenge it, but heard, “If I continued with my tone, I was upset, he was going to hang up on me.”

It happened to Jason Davis too.

“Their response was no way,” said Davis, who is the Volusia County Council Chair.

He was forced to cancel his $300 Allegiant flight after suffering a heart attack. Then weeks later was denied rebooking or a refund because he didn't cancel within 7seven days.

“When you have a heart attack, you have a heart attack and don't plan for that in advance,” said Davis.

Allegiant's no rebooking policy started eight months ago and it's the only one we could find for any airline. Allegiant said it doesn't overbook flights so late cancellations leave empty seats and that would drive up cheap fares. And its policy is fully disclosed and customers can buy its Trip Flex insurance to cover cancellation losses.

“I've actually never heard of an airline doing this,” said consumer watchdog George Hobica.

He said it is not a policy customers expect.

“Allegiant has a lot of hidden fees and charges consumers don't know about and certainly don't advertise it,” said Hobica.

“I shouldn't lose the ticket I paid for,” said Marinelli.

Other airlines allow you to rebook for a fee and you don't lose the entire ticket cost.

Related: 10 fees you could face if flying Allegiant Airlines