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Why is British Airways deliberately blocking online cash refunds for Avios flight bookings?

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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:

Why is British Airways deliberately blocking online cash refunds for Avios bookings?

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.

British Airways BA 777X 777 9X

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.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

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

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points 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 – 30,000 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

The 30,000 points bonus on Amex Gold runs to 9th November 2021. The 60,000 points bonus on The Platinum Card runs to 2nd November 2021.

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 (259)

  • Lindsey says:

    Just to save anyone else spending hours on hold to exec club call centres (UK). They are currently only refunding flights that are within 3 days of travel. They said try next week ( my flights are within 14 days) and it might ease off or they may solve the web problem.

  • Dennmark says:

    I book a flight ticket on 6th of March which British Airways cancelled due to the outbreak. I booked it via a travel agency. Terms and conditions of the agency states that they are representing on behalf of British Airways. That my contract is not with them but with the airline. I was offered a partial refund of the sum i paid for which is not fair. Agency is saying that it is British Airways’ approval of a partial refund that they are only following. I messaged British Airways and I have been told by them that they have nothing to do with it and that I need to sort it out with the agency. I tried communicating with my bank as I paid the ticket with credit card. Under section 75, the bank is also saying that British Airways should be liable as it is stated in the terms and conditions of the agency which British Airways allowed to represent them. I’m in quite a fix now as none of the agent nor British Airways is willing to give me back my money.

    • Shoestring says:

      show your bank all the evidence and leave it with them to chase under S75

  • UKTim69 says:

    Has anyone applied for the vouchers, and if so how quickly did they get them?
    I applied Monday 15th and haven’t heard a peep even though the flight has now been cancelled, and wish I had waited and gone for the cash refund option. Wasn’t due to fly until 31st March.

    • Shoestring says:

      do this refund hack as well, you might get both but should get at least 1 of them

  • Giss says:

    Have any Mac users successfully got a refund of a ticket purchased with cash using this method? Despite turning off Java, it keeps directing me to the voucher screen. Any tips welcome. Thx.

  • Steve says:

    How about this then ! Booked syd-lhr bus class return of an open jaw on a companion voucher, cancelled 5 days before as cannot now enter aus under the change of rules and BA refuse to refund my avios or rebook…

    Promised to email with a resolve within 24hrs and guess what, no email…

    Comments please..

  • Ganesh D says:

    What BA is doing is very unethical. I understand that they want to keep the money but they are ignoring that it is hard-earned money and passengers may also have financial hardship. I am surprised that the passenger coalition is not acting on it.

    Big thanks for posting this online. I feel for the 99% who may not be able to get their cash refund.

    • Sue says:

      I have to agree. I am appalled that BA is ignoring legal rights of individuals knowing full well we can’t take on the might of airlines in a court.

      What cost their future reputation other than to be at best unethical an instructive traders.

  • Rishi says:

    BA is not offering cash refund unless you call for any flights! I had a flight booked just normally paid by cash and it was cancelled – the only option on manage booking is to rebook or if you click “Cancel and Refund” it takes you to the travel voucher request form. Its nuts! I don’t want a voucher, I want a refund and apparently the only to do that is to call. surely that’s not helpful to anyone with the call centres overwhelmed?? Anyone have any tips on what to do or should I simply call and stay on hold for hours, adding to their problem? Flight wasnt for another 2 weeks but they cancelled it today. Any thoughts appreciated

    • Rob says:

      Rishi, there is an article pinned to the home page at the top which explains how to hack the BA website to force the refund.

    • Georgi Aleshanov says:

      And if you are not getting anywhere simply initiate a dispute with your bank. They need to learn a lesson here for sure.

      • Mick Harding says:

        Hi Georgi
        I have just made a Section 75 claim (Fri) through Amex, my BA card, given that they are making it impossible to contact them for cash refund. It would not be a problem if they simply promised to refund cash rather than vouchers when things settle down. It is likely to be be near impossible to redeem a voucher, I would rather have the cash and shop around. Anyway, It will be interesting to see how Amex respond to my claim.

  • Rebecca Rothman says:

    Can I get a full refund for Car hire booked through BA? They have cancelled the out going flight but not the return flight. yet! I purchased 2 singles not a return. Once the return flight has been cancelled will i be able to cancel the associated car hire? Or will I lose 25%?

    Many thanks, R

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