7 On Your Side: Bride jilted by airline's Zika policy

MIDDLETOWN, N.J. (WABC) -- Since the Zika virus epidemic began, dozens of countries are on the "do not travel" list for pregnant women.

So when a New Jersey newlywed found out she was expecting just days after booking a trip, she tried to get a refund without much luck. So she turned to Seven On Your Side.

Outside of her immediate family, Jamie Clemente hasn't told anyone she's pregnant. But she broke her silence to call for help after one of the world's largest airlines refused her Zika-related refund.

And her lesson just might save you hundreds on your next flight.

Matthew and Jamie Clemente are thrilled to be having a baby, and they got the good news just six days after booking a summer honeymoon to St. Lucia.

"I immediately thought, oh my gosh, we can't travel because Zika," Jamie said.

Their destination in the South Caribbean is on the CDC list for the Zika virus, with pregnant women warned not to travel to places where they could be infected by Zika, which could result in miscarriage or major complications for the baby.

"The risk far outweighed the reward of going to St Lucia for the week," Matthew said.

So they took what they thought was quick action.

"I immediately contacted Sandals, told them I had to cancel," Jamie said. "They were very gracious. They said 'congratulations, no problem.'"

But she got a different response when asking for refund from United Airline.

"They said, 'Well sorry, it's a non-refundable ticket,'" Jamie said.

So she appealed, sending United two doctor's letters -- one from her OBGYN and the other from her general practitioner. It stated, "Due to pregnancy, travel to Zika-infected areas is not recommended."

But United's new Zika policy denies refunds if the tickets were bought after the end of February 2016. Jamie bought her ticket on May 6, just before finding out she was pregnant.

The airline eventually offered a voucher valid for a year, but only good for the continental US. Jamie was due to delivery in January.

So we called the United Airlines, and within days, they got a full refund of $1,200. United also apologized to Jamie and called the situation a miscommunication.

United said going forward, it will issue Zika refunds on a case-by-case basis. The big takeaway is that before booking travel, check the CDC's website to see if there's any Zika travel warnings. Also check your carrier or hotel for Zika-related policies. We checked the major carriers, and most mirrored United. And consider travel or trip insurance, as most cover Zika refunds, but only if you didn't know you were pregnant before you booked the trip.
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