"A family who reported their son's chicken pox to Air New Zealand three days before they were due to fly believe they have been 'punished' with the extra costs involved in rebooking their travel. [Father] told the airline about the medical condition and was told his son could not board the flight.
Staff told him the booking fee could be reimbursed with a medical certificate, but he was quoted a price of over $500 to exchange his family's tickets for new ones."
The Herald has been asking readers if the airline should have reinbursed the fare. Fortunately most of those who replied are far more sensible than the Herald and are firmly promoting the view that individual responsibility goes both ways.
As most of those I read have said, travel insurance is available for this type of event and the passengers chose not to buy insurance, thus deciding to carry the risk of illness / etc themselves.
When buying cheap fares for internal flights, I too usually decide that I'll carry the risk, for me it's a small risk and usually the cost of a replacement ticket is sufficiently small that I feel I'll come out ahead over time. When travelling internationally the potential charges are such that I see it as beneficial to have insurance so I buy it.
Although it's easy to say that Air New Zealand should refund the fare, if the airline decided to give them the benefits of having insurance without the customer having bought that insurance then others who also chose to carry the risk themselves could also request the same & eventually the costs of the insurance plus a profit margin for the airline would be loaded as an extra charge onto every ticket we bought.