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. Trevor says:

    I had a Marriot booking via Booking.com [cheaper than direct for some reason] which was non-refundable. Booking.com refused refund but I then sent them the new Marriot rules and they refunded 100% straight away. Good service.

  2. Andrew says:

    Anyone actually had a cash refund from BA turn up on their card yet? I requested a refund on the phone for a cancelled flight 2 weeks ago today and was told it would be about 7 days. What are people experiencing in terms of timescales?

    • Rui N. says:

      Cancelled one avios booking online (using the workaround mentioned here), and in 2 days the money was in my card.

    • Cathy says:

      I used the workaround on here 15 days ago but still waiting for the refund and the 2 for 1 voucher has not gone back on my BA account yet.

    • Steve says:

      I also used the workaround for a refund on the 21st March. So far, no voucher, no avios and no cash returned.

    • Hit and miss I would say. Called in for refund on my cancelled cash booking flight on Tuesday. Got money back on amex card today.

    • Steve says:

      I asked for 3 refunds on bookings where I had already got the message to say that the flights were cancelled on the 17th March.
      One was back on my Amex the next day (cheaper one)
      Still seen nothing for the yet for the other 2

  3. Richard Coughtrey says:

    Cancelled my avios booking online (using the workaround mentioned here) 10 days ago and nothing has appeared on my card yet, their email advises within 14 days so maybe next week.

  4. David Jones says:

    I thought BA Holidays were covered by the book with confidence scheme, and you could cancel your holiday and receive back the deposit in the form of a voucher, or have I misunderstood that?

  5. Richard says:

    IHG did not extended my Creation credit cred free nights, 2 expiring tomorrow. Only offered me 5000 points as a goodwill guesture 🙁

    • I believe you can book them for a date in advance – they just have to be ‘redeemed’ in that time.

      Why not do that for a date in advance?

      Someone else has then suggested that they’re adding a 6 month extension to the voucher if those bookings then need to be cancelled.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Book for something in 6 or 12 months time?

    • Janet Thomas says:

      I phoned IHG Rewards yesterday on 02033499033 to request an extension for my free night which was due to expire on 3rd April. They immediately agreed to a 6 month extension and the new voucher was instantly visible in my account. Maybe worth trying again.

      • I only got a 3 month extension, but that takes me to first week of October also. That might be the date they are prepared currently to push to.

  6. Rachael Bhella says:

    Getting through to Easyjet was a joke. After 400 calls and at various times of the day I eventually manage to get through.
    Why oh why can they not activate the refund cash option, it would save the staff so much stress. Incidentally I changed my Easter flight to Malaga for a paid flight at Xmas and saved £400 pounds .For Xmas DON’T TAKE the voucher, it is probably cheaper to rebook and get a refund on the cancelled flight.

    • Kev 85 says:

      “ Why oh why can they not activate the refund cash option”

      Because they’re hoping that people take the voucher and they can therefore get away with trying to break the law

      • Lady London says:

        Easyjet’s removal of the previously normal ability to click for a refund in the case of
        easyjet’s cancellation of the passengers flight was not as blatant as British Airways adding Java code twice to their website to do the same.

        Mainly as British Airways first version of code they added to block refunds could be curvumvented by switching off JavaScript at key points. So they went back and did it twice and BAs denial of refunds online is now practically 100% blockage.

        Easyjet’s deliberate adjustment to their website to deny refunds – worked first time.

        Given that both BA and easyJet removed previously longstanding easily clickable access to request refunds when due under EC261, so it was clearly intended to remove customers access to their legal entitlement, I hope the regulators will.fine both heavily when there is a revenue stream to fine.

        Both airlines were well aware that the their phone systems and staffing at the time they took these deliberate steps were not able to accept the additional demand of refunds through this channel at the time and for a very.considerable time after. So these actions by British Airways and easyJet were done specifically to frustrate the ability of their customers to choose the refund option provided to them by EC261.

        It’s abuse as BA has access to 9 billion or so cash. How many customers needed their refund back more than BA needed to hold on to their customers money that was paid for the service BA didn’t provide? Who’s more needy here?

        • has anyone created a petition at Change.org or brought the carriers to small claims court? people shoud have so much time on their hands now…

  7. Caroline Wood says:

    Any thoughts on how I cancel two hilton hotel stays booked through ba.com booking confirmation says non refundable but Hilton now saying all refundable but contact travel agent if not booked direct. Nothing on ba.com about this scenario

    • chris says:

      I phoned the 0800 727 800 number on Monday and cancelled hotel nights which were non refundable by BA and they processed a refund to my BA Amex. Maybe I was just lucky but I assumed if Hilton changed their cancellation policy them BA, as the agent, should follow suit. Worth a try.

  8. Steve says:

    Aer Club offering a 10% uplift if you take the voucher rather than a cash refund. Plus 25 Tier points about to be dropped into everyone’s account

  9. Optimus Prime says:

    Looks like some Marriott resort hotels can have exclusions on the new cancellation policy. I have a points booking at Dome Miramare Corfu and they told me that instead of free cancellation until 14 days before check-in date (their regular policy), it would be 7 days.

    Their website now says that cash bookings are refunded as credit vouchers usable on any Domes resort.

    • I think Marriott did say something like “most hotels and resorts” so it was unclear who would and who wouldn’t refund OK when they announced their new cancellation policy.

  10. Andy H says:

    Rob,
    Is there any information coming from Amex re the £10k spend amount to obtain the 2-4-1 voucher. If this goes on for months, which is predicted, then I’m doubtful if I will hit the 10k within the 12 months. I’m over half way but my monthly spend on the cards is now well down.

    • Nope, we still haven’t heard anything

      • I have also been pushing them to reduce the £3k sign-up bonus spend on new cards, with no success. I doubt we’re spending £3k in the next 90 days and we’re feeding four.

    • marcw says:

      If this carries on for months, you won’t be able to travel either.

    • I was close but then a number of refunds came in and now I am almost 4K away…

      And I OWE Avios to BA now – so expecting a deduction at the next statement

  11. EwanG says:

    On topic but OT in terms of brand, Accor have emailed out today to advise what they are doing with status.

    Here is an except for me, as Gold:
    “We consider it a privilege to have you as a guest in our hotels and an honour to count you as one of our loyal members of ALL – Accor Live Limitless. We want to show our appreciation by crediting your account with 50% of the necessary Status points and Status nights required to maintain your elite status.

    As a Gold member, we will be crediting your account over the next three weeks with 3,500 Status points and 15 Status nights. Your points balance will reflect this once completed.”

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