Why is British Airways deliberately blocking online cash refunds for Avios BA flight bookings?
One topic has dominated my inbox and the HFP comments over the last couple of days – the withdrawal by British Airways of the ability to refund an Avios flight online for cash.
EDIT: We have a found a way to get around BA’s block and to allow a cash cancellation. This article shows how.
If you have a British Airways booking made for cash then you can, under the BA ‘Book with Confidence’ guarantee, refund it in return for a British Airways voucher. This voucher is valid for 12 months from the date of the flight which you had to cancel.
This policy is for people who are holding non-refundable flight tickets. It has NOTHING to do with Avios bookings.
Any Avios bookings you hold were made under the standard British Airways rules. These allow you to cancel your flight up to 24 hours before departure in return for a full CASH refund of your taxes and charges, plus the return of your Avios. A fee of £35 per person is payable.
These rules have not changed, and indeed it is debatable that they could be changed retrospectively.
What happens when you try to cancel an Avios booking online?
If you go onto ba.com and try to cancel an Avios redemption, this is the page you are taken to:
(If your flight is one which is unlikely to operate, you may not see this. You may just see your cancellation options greyed out.)
This is the form you fill in to receive credit for a CASH flight. It is NOT designed to be used by holders of Avios redemptions.
It appears that BA is deliberately trying to encourage holders of Avios tickets to accept a 12-month travel voucher, even though they are legally entitled to a cash refund.
If you ring British Airways, you WILL receive your cash refund.
Unfortunately, you are putting extra pressure on the call centre by doing this and stopping people who need immediate help from getting through. This is a situation of BA’s own making, however.
People are getting the same problem when a flight is cancelled
I have also heard a similar story from readers whose flights have been cancelled.
Instead of triggering an immediate cash refund, they are directed to the same page on ba.com where they are asked to request the ‘Future Travel Voucher’.
Again, you do NOT need to do this. If your flight is cancelled and BA only sends you a link to the voucher claim form, you need to get on the phone and request cash instead.
There is one caveat to this …..
If you have an Avios booking and you cancel it, you lose any money you have paid for seat reservations. This could be substantial.
My understanding – although I am not 100% sure about this – is that if you take the travel voucher then it will include a credit for seat reservation fees, either as part of the voucher or as a marker to allow you free seat reservations in the future.
Don’t try to call BA if you can help it
It is frustrating that British Airways is making you call their overrun call centres in order to get the cash refunds to which you are legally entitled.
However …. there is no rush. Unless you are trying to cancel an Avios booking for immediate travel, there is nothing to lose by holding off. Once British Airways grounds the bulk of its fleet in the next week or so, there will hopefully be a period when it is easier to get through and fewer people are in need of urgent assistance.