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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.


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You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

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

Comments (258)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Billy says:

    The article comes across as if there should be an option for a customer to be paid a full cash refund for an avios ticket.

    Just to be clear the cash refund is only for taxes and charges and not the whole ticket. I.e my avios return ticket from A to B cost me 70k avios and £300 for taxes. The customer is asking for the avios and cash for tax to be refunded not say the cash equivalent of the same ticket from A to B which retails for say £900

    Wouldn’t expect anyone who paid in avios to turn around and ask BA for the cash equivalent of the same ticket.

  • Tim Hewson says:

    Contrast this approach to Premier Inn who sent me proactively an email offering a full refund on my non refundable stay. A couple of links later and the money is on its way back to me. Part of me wishes BA1 to go bust and be replaced by a new airline using their planes, slots and staff but not their scumbag management.

    • Adam says:

      And hats oft to Air BnB who have made it really easy to receive a refund with simple instructions and a button in the app.

      • Erico1875 says:

        Same here. 2 clicks for refund

        • david says:

          I benefited too but hosts are not as happy. Some even suing Airbnb as they had a no refund ”contract” with guests.

    • Sandra says:

      We had a booking via a company called Ticketsource for an event during our weeks holiday in Scotland at the end of the month. Yesterday I received an email informing me they had refunded the whole cost back to my card due to temporary closure of that particular venue – this was the first I knew of it so all credit to them, no need to ask, argue or request Amex to intervene. We are still hoping to go on holiday as we’ll be in the middle of nowhere for a week and, unless the government ban all travel and put us in enforced lockdown rather than use the statement ‘none essential travel’, our travel insurance won’t pay out for the UK unless we become ill and have to cancel.

  • Sue says:

    Exactly the position I am in. Plus I have not been able to get through to BA to verify. I got cut off and it got it ringing out. Not helpful.

    What happens if your flight is not cancelled. You are advised by your Gov not to fly non essential and you can’t get to speak with BA to cancel. I have insurance but not likely they would cover this as it’s BAs responsibility.

  • Erico1875 says:

    I nearly fell for this with my cancelled BA Avios redemption flight. I had filled in all the details before realising it was just a voucher.
    Very sneaky.

  • Antonio says:

    Disable JavaScript on the consent page then reenable it on the next page and you can get your avios refunds no problem.

    • GJS says:

      Thank you! This worked.

    • Andreas says:

      Also seemingly possible for me for a European reward flight booking, minus £1 cancellation fee per passenger which I can live with. All Avios plus £68 to be refunded…

  • Robbo says:

    I too had the issue yesterday. I had actually called BA to refund a cash booking that had been cancelled. I asked about an AVIOS booking I also wanted to cancel, the agent said I should cancel the Avios booking online, if she did it, I would be charged an additional £15 on top of the normal £35 per person on the booking. I then try to do the cancellation and end up with the “voucher” page!
    It is a shame BA are doing this, as they are unnecessarily clogging their phone lines, and if I do ring, they charge me an additional £15! Poor.

  • Gritts says:

    Slightly OT but last Saturday 14th I cancelled two avios flights via avios live chat using Lloyds vouchers and paying the 2x £35 fee. I’m still waiting for the avios points to recredit to my account and no sign of the cash for the ‘taxes’ and fees.

    • Anna says:

      I was told up to 10 days.

    • AndyR says:

      I cancelled 2 bookings at end of Jan with Avios and 2 Lloyds vouchers. It took 28 days and I still had to call on the 28th day to chase it up after which they then did it there and then on the phone. They said there was backlog. And this was before all the covid-19 had kicked off properly here.

    • Alan Wan says:

      I am in a similar situation. I cancelled 11 March (an Avios Amex 2-4-1 redemption where the flight has been cancelled) and received an instant email stating refund being processed.

      So far no cash, Avios or 2-4-1 voucher. But I figured they’re too busy to process the refund. I’m laid back about it as understood other customers need priority at the moment

      • Chabuddy geezy says:

        I made a cancellation on 4th March and got the refund yesterday.

    • Roosit says:

      I cancelled three Reward Flight Saver bookings last Saturday 14th March (three individual flights, all for this coming weekend), Avios were credited same day, cash part the day after. I seem to have been lucky though, both in terms of being able to do it via the website (before it directed to the voucher refund page), and also in terms of speed of the process…

  • Scandinavian traveler says:

    It looks like BA also increased the RFS fees from £ 35 to £ 41.

    • Shoestring says:

      nice tactic 🙂

      in the same way staff were incentivised to come up with savings, now I guess the brains are working on how to maximise/ conserve cash

    • Mikeact says:

      Probably the option you originally paid when you booked.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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