Coronavirus cancellation and refund policy summary: British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet, Hilton, Marriott and IHG

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Due to rapidly changing policies over coronavirus cancellations and travel waivers, we have decided to compile all the information we have in one up-to-date reference post. Hopefully this gives you an overview of your cancellation and refund rights with the major travel companies we cover on HFP.

As well as links to the offical guidance, we have included information from the anecdotal data left in our comments.  Thank you to everyone who has left feedback.

We will update this as changes occur.  It is currently correct as of 13th May.  If you have experienced something different to the policies described below please let us know in the comments or email rhys @ headforpoints.com

Coronavirus airline and hotel cancellation and refund policy summary

British Airways coronavirus refund, change and status policies

Read the British Airways COVID-19 travel advisory here.

Cash flights: all flights up until 31st December can be cancelled in exchange for a British Airways voucher which is valid on any route until 30th April 2022 (this extension applies to previously issued travel vouchers, too).

If your flight has been cancelled by British Airways you are entitled to a full cash refund instead.   The only way to do this now is to ring BA at 0800 727 800. Do NOT select any of the options. Your call will eventually go through and you will here the customary BA hold music. This process took me about 15 minutes the other day, although recent comments suggest the lines are currently very busy.

Your refund should include any seat selection fees and other additional payments.

Avios redemptions:  you are entitled to a full refund in the event that British Airways cancels your flight.  Follow the instructions above if you want a cash refund rather than a voucher for your taxes and charges.  If your flight is still operating and you cancel an Avios redemption of your own volition, you are entitled to a refund of all the Avios and taxes and charges paid, minus a £35 fee.

‘Avios + Money’ bookings (Avios bookings where cash was used to reduce the Avios required):  these work on the same basis as standard Avios redemptions. You are entitled to a refund of your Avios and cash regardless of whether British Airways has cancelled your flight or not.  A £35 per person cancellation fee applies if your flight is still operating.

‘Avios part-payment’ bookings (cash bookings where Avios was used to reduce the cash required):  British Airways is offering a voucher for tickets where the flight is still operating. The voucher is for the original cash price – ie. if your flight was £900 before you reduced the cost with Avios you will get a voucher for £900.  Cash refunds are available instead of a voucher if your flight has been cancelled but, as per the above, you will need to call to request this or try our workaround.

Flight & hotel/car or BA Holidays package:  if British Airways has cancelled any part of your holiday you are legally entitled to a full refund in cash.  If you choose to cancel of your own volition BA will retain your deposit.  There are strict UK laws surrounding package holidays but these have been relaxed slightly. You should still receive your cash within a reasonable time frame, however.  There will be no attempt to make you take a voucher.

American Express 2-4-1 vouchers:  all British Airways Amex 2-4-1 vouchers have been extended by 6 months.  This includes vouchers which have already been used – if you cancel, it will come back with an extension – and all forthcoming vouchers which will be issued by 30th June 2020.

Lloyds upgrade voucher:  you can apply for a six month extension if your Lloyds Avios Rewards credit card upgrade voucher is due to expire in March or April by calling Avios

Executive Club status extensions:  if your British Airways Executive Club membership year ends in April, May or June your tier point requirements to renew have been reduced by 30%.

British Airways coronavirus refund and change policies

Virgin Atlantic coronavirus refund, change and status policies

Read the Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 travel advisory here.

Cash flights: All flights cancelled by Virgin Atlantic are eligible for cash refunds.  These cannot be claimed online and require a call.  Remember that there is no rush and that as long as your flight is cancelled you can claim your refund at a future date.  Virgin Atlantic has been reaching out to passengers with existing bookings to offer targeted rebooking incentives including bonus miles, upgrades and cash cards.

If your flight is still operating, Virgin Atlantic has implemented a flexible booking policy. Tickets booked between 12th March and 30th June for travel until 31st December 2020 can be rebooked free of charge for dates up to 31st May 2022, although you may have to pay a fare difference. Virgin will keep your ticket open for you to rebook at your convenience.

If you booked on or before 19th March there is no change fee AND no difference in fare as long as your travel prior to 30th November 2020. A fare difference may apply for rebookings between 1st December 2020 to 31st May 2022.

Virgin Flying Club miles redemptions:  You will pay £30 if you cancel your booking at least 24 hours before departure to receive a full refund of all miles, taxes and fees.  The fee is waived if your flight is no longer operating.  Virgin Flying Club redemptions booked between 6th March and 31st March are eligible for free changes although reward seats must be available on your new dates.

Virgin Flying Club status:  Virgin Atlantic has announced that it is extending Gold and Silver members’ status by six months. Companion, upgrade, credit card and Clubhouse vouchers have also been automatically extended by six months.

Virgin Atlantic coronavirus refund and change policies

easyJet coronavirus refund, change and status policies

Read the easyJet COVID-19 travel advisory here.

Cash flights: As of 30th March, easyJet has grounded its entire fleet.  Any flight cancelled by easyJet is eligible for a full cash refund. Some people have had success in emailing [email protected] for a refund. You should include the booking reference, departure date and preferred language in the subject line in the following format: Booking Reference/Departure Date/EN. If this does not work, you will have to call 0330 365 5000.

You CAN request a voucher for a cancelled flight via Manage Bookings.  These vouchers are valid for six months from the date of issue – the rules are vague but it seems that you only need to book, and not fly, within six months.

easyJet is waiving its change fees for flights allowing you to rebook on different dates and/or routes if you wish.  This is possible irrespective of whether your flight is cancelled.  You must pay any differences in the fare.

Any ticket booked with easyJet at the moment for future travel will be covered by the ‘free changes’ waiver although fare differences must still be paid.

It is reportedly exceptionally difficult to reach easyJet by telephone.  One reader who speaks Italian contacted the Italian call centre, for a UK booking, and had his call answered virtually immediately and his refund processed.

It is not clear if easyJet Plus members will have their annual membership extended.

easyJet coronavirus refund and change policies

Hilton coronavirus refund, change and status policies

Read the Hilton COVID-19 travel advisory here.

All existing bookings are fully refundable, for cash, on stays until 30th June, irrespective of the original room rules.

New bookings made until 30th June will be fully refundable irrespective of how far in the future your stay occurs.

Hilton Honors status:  Hilton is automatically extending member status for an additional year, to 31st March 2022.  In addition, any member who was due to lose status on 1st April has had it extended to 31st March 2021.

Points expiry has been put on pause until 31st December 2020.

Hilton coronavirus refund and change policies

IHG coronavirus refund, change and status policies

Read the IHG COVID-19 travel advisory here.

All existing bookings made by 6th April for stays until 30th June 2020 have had their cancellation fees waived.  There is NO cancellation or change policy for bookings beyond 30th June 2020.

However a new discounted ‘Book Now, Pay Later’ rate has been introduced that allows free cancellation up to 24 hours before arrival.  You can no longer book prepaid rooms.

‘Best Flexible Rates’ now have free cancellation until 6pm on the day of arrival.

IHG Rewards Club status: IHG Rewards Club status has automatically been extended by 12 months, carrying over until early 2022.

IHG Rewards Club elite status points requirements for 2021 have been reduced by 25% for all members.

Spire Elite members will receive an additional ‘choice benefit’ of 25,000 points or Platinum Elite status for a friend.

In an email, IHG has confirmed it would be extending Ambassador status by three months for those who pay for it although this is yet to appear on accounts.

Credit card free night vouchers expiring after 1st March 2020 have been extended until 31st December. All certificates earned in 2020 will be valid for 18 months.

IHG coronavirus refund, change and status policies

Marriott coronavirus refund, change and status policies

Read the Marriott COVID-19 travel advisory here.

All existing bookings are changeable or cancellable for no charge up to 24 hours before arrival until 30th June 2020.  For clarity, this includes bookings for stays AFTER 30th June but the cancellation or change must be made before 30th June.

Hotels are allowed to refuse to honor this policy if your stay is “with special event restrictions or peak demand weeks”

New bookings made before 30th June, for stays at any point in the future, will be changeable or cancellable free of charge up to 24 hours prior to arrival.

Design Hotels and Homes & Villas by Marriott are excluded from these policies.

Marriott Bonvoy status:  Status earned in 2019 will be extended until February 2022.  It has paused points expiration until February 2022 and extended the expiration of suite night awards by one year (to December 2021).

Free night awards from credit cards, annual choice benefit, promotions or travel packages due to expire in 2020 have been extended until 31st January 2021.

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Comments

  1. ChrisC says:

    Finnair is offering an extra 10% if you take a voucher rather than cash.

    Voucher lasts a year but you can travel after that date as long as you book before the voucher expires

    https://www.finnair.com/gb-en/customer-care-and-contact-information/contact-forms/refund-form

  2. Natalie says:

    Thanks for this – super helpful As always. Do you have an update on Accor hotels? I have a booking in Italy on May 7 which I’ve prepaid (very unlikely me!!) and I’m holding out for an update!

    • Dougie says:

      I have a booking at Heathrow Sofitel. I phoned to try and refund the booking as they wouldn’t allow it. They have however let me change to date into the future and said I ll be able to move it again to suit at no cost. The not however let me cancel and get a refund.

      • Cwyfan says:

        They have done that to me too, and do keep their word, so as long as you are able to use it, relax.

      • Tariq says:

        We had a booking at T5 Sofitel for April via hotels.com and the agent contacted us to say that the hotel was closing temporarily and therefore we would be refunded automatically.

      • Lady London says:

        Get that future changeability in writing also what will happen if new date is more expensive.

    • ankomonkey says:

      I must be honest, I’m starting to loathe Accor. Their loyalty scheme is unattractive to me and their overall customer treatment is poor.

    • Grant says:

      Having read plenty about it, all I can say is that application of the offical policy is variable. Best advice would be to contact the hotel you were due to stay at directly and ask for a refund. I did that for a £60 booking at an airport Novotel fully expecting to be told to FRO in line with the official policy. I got a very pleasant email back within a couple of hours confirming that I had been refunded in full, despite it being a non-refunable rate.

    • Harry T says:

      I contacted the Sofitel in Munich directly, explaining that the FCO advice was not to travel during that period of April. They refunded me my £550 non refundable hotel booking within 48 hours after replying to my email in under an hour. Contact the hotel directly.

  3. Rich01924 says:

    Does anyone know the latest if I booked with BA via a travel agent? A few weeks ago they offered me the voucher direct, for my remaining bookings when I call last week they advised only option now was to revert via my travel agent – assuming this is still the case? Thanks

    • You have to go through the travel agent to get a refund. That is the downside of not booking directly with BA or any airline.

  4. Richard Green says:

    Any news on Qatar cash flights ?

  5. Cwyfan says:

    At last, some reference about what happens to the Lloyds voucher customers!

    However, when I phone Avios, they say BA now are dealing with it, and on the BA phone line there is no option to be put through to, indeed no mention at all.

    My flight has been cancelled by BA but the avios and fees has just disappeared into the ether.

    Anybody successfully retrieved a Lloyds voucher yet, and if so how?

    • I’m in a similar situation so would be great if anyone had further info about this. Thanks.

    • I rang the avios 0344 number on Tuesday. 45 minute wait (not too bad), and the usual friendly and efficient CS. Voucher returned with 6 month extension. I havent actually seen the voucher and returned avios, but the cash is back on the cc

  6. Matty says:

    What about if you’ve upgraded one leg of a return cash booking using Avios?

  7. Michelle says:

    Do you know whether you can cancel BA flights booked before 3 March (we booked on 27 Feb)?

    • Avios or cash? Date of travel and Ts & Cs will also be relevant.

    • I think unfortunately they are outside the scope of the book with confidence scheme but if they are for flights before 31 May you can get a voucher. If it’s after 31 May just wait as i am sure the 31 May deadline will be extended. I have a booking for July and am just waiting for BA to cancel.

  8. The Original David says:

    Does the free refund apply to part-flown BA bookings? My return flight in June has technically been cancelled (although replaced by a flight 25 minutes earlier with a different flight number). However, I already flew the outbound leg in December. Can I get a refund for half the ticket price?

    • No. Vouchers not applicable to part flown itineraries. And the cash value of the return flight is usually worthless, the value is really in the outbound ticket.

      • Charlieface says:

        That’s garbage. You would get a 50% refund unless BA can demonstrate that one direction is worth more than the other. EC261 applies here because it’s a different flight number, it’s effectively a reroute.

    • Lady London says:

      Different flight number makes it equivalent to a cancellation.

      You are lucky – if 25 min earlier and same flight number you might have had to accept it.

  9. Ian Williams says:

    What about BA car hire (Avis) booked in addition to a 241 or should I say companion voucher, as they are always 2 seperate bookings

    • I’m in that position. It says on the booking that you have to call to cancel but I am thinking about emailing Avis as well.

  10. Arno McLean says:

    Surely you would think IHG will change their policy at some point for bookings beyond 30th of April, like Hilton have?

  11. I’m really confused about the easyJet flight change policy. I changed some flights to other ones and there is no mention of any additional fare difference charges when I go through to final confirmation. At every step it said “free” so I am very confused and will be very disappointed if they charge for any difference in fares which didn’t show up at all during the change process. It said clearly that if the flight is cancelled by easyJet then You can change to a different flight free of charge. Have I confused things in your above guidance?

    • Algor says:

      Modification fee is waived, you will pay only fare difference.

      If fee was not waived you would pay fare difference and change fee.

      • But when I select new flights (which I know are more expensive than my original flights), I get to final confirmation and it says “free”. Surely they need to list any fees otherwise?

        • Bagoly says:

          Are you sure they are more expensive now than what you paid?
          They have some pretty cheap fares listed, and it is the amount you paid that matters, not the price now listed for your original flight.
          It is also possible that they have made a programming error in this rush which benefited you.
          Unlike hotels “shall I charge it to the card you provided when you checked in?” Easyjet website always asks for new/repeated credit card details when they make any new charge, so if you got a confirmation without entering them I expect you are OK.

      • Lady London says:

        Ez historically did not charge diff on replacement flights and this is how I would w pect their system to work based on my own experience.

      • Lady London says:

        For cancellations this is not correct. Pretty sure it’s been incorrectly stated as such.

        • Lady London says:

          *don’t know if Rhys said it in the article but if he did it’s not correct – although the article seemed to state things from the “offering” airline’s point of view in most cases as compared to things like eu261 rights and other refinements like this.

    • Mikel says:

      Our return flight was cancelled and the refund button was available at that time. 14 days later it’s still showing as refund processing. EasyJet really getting bad press at the moment on social media. I’ve sent two DM’s on twitter and the reply only refers to changing the flight or voucher, despite specifically mentioning refund. Really getting pissed off with their attitude.

      • Lady London says:

        I should think they’ve sent at least 80% or 90% of their call centre staff home. I’m not privy to on what basis. They are in South Africa and I’m not aware of any support for them from the South African government.

    • There was wording (now removed) on their website that indicated cancelled flights could be moved to any other flight for free.

      Non-cancelled flights have the change fee waived but must pay and fare difference.

      I took advantage of the initial wording by booking a £85 return which I was certain would be cancelled in order to change it for free to the dates I need which cost £388. Just waiting on my flight being cancelled on the system so that I can test this out!

      • Charlieface says:

        Removing the wording doesn’t change that cancelled flights can be changed with no fare difference. That’s the law

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