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Confirmation that BA is now only charging 50p Avios cancellation fees on short haul flights

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As regular readers will know, British Airways is currently running a trial on differential Avios pricing for short-haul flights.

As well as the usual option showing Reward Flight Saver taxes and charges of £35 in Euro Traveller or £50 in Club Europe, there are additional options which require less cash (as little as £1 return) and more Avios.

This was our full article on how they work.

There was some confusion about how refunds are treated.  What are the cancellation fees on an Avios booking?  I now have an example of my own for how it works.

It makes it clear that – irrespective of how much or how little cash you use on your short-haul Avios booking – the cancellation fee is the lowest cash option.

This means you pay 50p to cancel a one-way ticket and £1 to cancel a return ticket.

The ONLY exception is short-haul flights which you book on a 2-4-1 voucher.  If you use a 2-4-1, it seems that the BA website defaults to the old pricing system which a) forces you to pay £35 Euro Traveller or £50 Club Europe in taxes and b) takes the full £35 per person when you cancel.

Take a look at the screenshot below, from my own account.  As you can see, I was planning a little hop to Madrid on 1st October to try the new Club Suite.  Unfortunately my wife now has banking business in Frankfurt so I need to be at home.

This is how my cancellation looked on ba.com:

What are the cancellation fees on an Avios booking?

When I booked, I went for the ‘most cash’ option.  This meant paying 13,600 Avios plus £141 in cash.  The ‘traditional’ price would have been 25,500 Avios + £50.  The most extreme ‘low cash’ option is 35,500 Avios + £1.

In theory, the cancellation fee should have been £35.  This is under the rule that ‘the cancellation fee is the lower of £35 or the taxes and charges you paid’.

In fact, as you can see, I paid £1 to cancel the booking and got £140 back.

I’m not sure that British Airways will want to keep this going long term.  It is costing them money and, eventually, will start restricting availability if members realise they can basically have ‘free’ options on redemption flights.

Why not book five different breaks for Spring Bank Holiday next year?  It will only cost you £4 to drop the ones you don’t want.  Not sure when you want to fly home from a European trip?  Why not book every single flight that day?  You’ll only lose 50p (on a one-way redemption) per flight when you cancel the unwanted ones.

These are longer term strategic issues though.  In the meantime, we now have personal proof that – unless you are travelling on a 2-4-1 voucher – cancellation fees are going through at just £1 per return flight on short-haul Avios redemptions.


British Airways BA Amex American Express

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

There are two official British Airways American Express cards. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies. This card has a limited time offer of 60,000 Avios when you sign up:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (65)

  • kumar says:

    Hi ,I did cancel a booking to Morocco over next May bank holiday 2020 as the date has changed from Monday to May8th (Friday) for 50p per passenger as the article suggests.

    If i try to cancel another booking to Lisbon, BA does suggest a cancellation fee of 17.50.I didnt go upto the final page to accept the t&c’s.

  • Roberto says:

    I booked five european redemption flights on five consecutive days for my wife and I next August. Cash prices never drop below £100 per person ( plus a bag ) and are often nearer double that. At 50p each plus 11K avios it was a no brainer allowing us to be ultra flexible with out commiting ourselves to a particular date.

    Nearer the time we will bin four flights, lose £4 and get our 88k back.

    • AndyW says:

      And while this works great for the individual booking in the short term, it harms everyone in the long term (not a criticism I would probably do the same). It has the potential to make availability even worse than it is now, no guarantee that when these are cancelled they get released back as rewards. I actually think the old system probably is better when you weight it up.

    • Crafty says:

      But they could fix this glitch at any time before then and under the T&C’s assuming they are as Rob states you have no recourse.

      • Shoestring says:

        but the downside risk if that happens is contained, not *that* much in £ terms

      • Mikeact says:

        ‘Glitch’ … who says?

        • pauldb says:

          Seems unlikely they will change the cancellation system to make you pay addition canx fees. So if you choose the 50p option like Roberto you’ll not end up paying more than 50p to cancel. But if you paid £131 like Rob they should be deducting £35 for cancellation and they might well correct that.

          • Mikeact says:

            You seem to be saying BA are wrong , they should deduct £35 and they should correct it ?
            I don’t see that, it’s pretty clear to me, a pound is a pound.

  • Doug says:

    So if I’m booked the old rate of £35 return will the fee be £35? I wish I could change my booking due to bank holiday move…

    • Alan says:

      Sadly yes – just had a look at my existing booking made many months ago and it’s still showing £35 to cancel. I’m holding off for now hoping for a schedule change that will let me cancel for free.

      • Doug says:

        Yes, but in my case I wouldn’t count on schedule change as it is an established route. I should go against the gov in small claims lol

    • Mikeact says:

      If you booked it before the ‘£ changes’ came in, then yes, the old rules still apply.

  • Andrew says:

    With the crazy high taxes (and generally lower cash prices) for long-haul redemptions, and now this flexibility built into short-haul redemptions, it really does seem the best use of Avios these days.

  • Jack says:

    I wish you had have posted this before 7PM last night. Would have saved me a stack of Avios to cancel CE and rebook in ET (availability appeared yesterday 36 hours out)… you win some you lose some… 🙂

    • SimonW says:

      How would this news have made any difference to your situation?

    • Mikeact says:

      You need to check or call…it’s been a £ for some time now. I just cancelled an old Santorini booking….no problem
      But at the moment, Lloyds Avios redemptions don’t seem to have come on board with the £ cancellation/change
      I need to call a different agent.

  • Nathan says:

    ‘Longer term strategic issues’ indeed

  • Hg333 says:

    O/T

    Can someone please confirm that a BA Bronze cannot select seats for free on IBERIA short-haul flights on the day of check in? I bought the ticket through Iberia and put my BA FF number.

    It’s mind-boggling to me but I could’ve sworn I used to be able to do this – now Iberia are trying to charge me for the privilege.

    Thanks.

    • Hg333 says:

      Just as a follow-up, in theory BA Bronze would mean priority boarding (after emerald and sapphire) in an Iberia queue right?

      • IndiaCharlie says:

        I had a similar/strange situation yesterday. I recently hit iberia silver (ba bronze equivalent) and was due to fly yesterday ba. When I booked this flight 6 months ago I put in my ba (blue) EC number. Changed it to IB on the AY site. I logged in 48hrs before and was told I could select any available seat FOC (implying bronze benefit). When I got my boarding pass though it was showing BA blue and group 5 boarding. At the airport I asked agent to change this which they (eventually) were able to do and I ended up with IB number showing and group 3.

        I would assume you would get the same treatment as ba bronze on ib…?

    • Lyn says:

      If it within 7 days but before online check-in opens, you might be able to do this via MMB on the BA web-site if it doesn’t work on Iberia, as sometimes happens. I’ve no idea what happens after Iberia online check-in opens, sorry.

    • Alex Sm says:

      This is one of the situations which the a Spanish member of Iberia staff memorably described to me once as «Iberia — yes, Britis Airways — no»

  • Jonny says:

    If inbound flight not yet available, can I book outbound on this method (using 241 voucher) and then add inbound if it becomes available in a few days, and apply the 241 across the booking?

    Obviously if I can’t then get the inbound, its not the end of the world as could cancel outbound and lose £2 (4 passengers) in this case?

    Thanks so much

    • Rob says:

      Works on longhaul so no reason why it won’t work on shorthaul too.

    • pauldb says:

      I have a oneway booking awaiting it’s inbound addition, booked this week. When you book with a 241 you only get the regular RFS avios + £25 (CE) option. If I try and cancel it the fee is £25pp – no cash back – so it’s being treated differently: your plan won’t work.

      • Jonny says:

        Thanks – that’s helpful. Have cancelled and rebooked without 241 and will see what happens with the outbound gets released. Also waiting on hotel to get back to me re availability. Once I have hotel and inbound flight, I will no longer need the flexibility anyway, but good to know that I can cancel the outbound for next to nothing pending everything else getting sorted.

    • Mikeact says:

      A 2 for 1 …. around Europe ?…..that’s a shame.

      • Shoestring says:

        that’s why I CBA to get the BAPP, all we fly is Europe for the time being

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