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. Rob, there is little point in the law when the courts have been closed. Those who have our money are using it as they want regardless of the law and at the same time very vigorously lobbying governments for changes in the law so they can continue to keep it – regardless.

    I have asked for my refund, when it was possible to ask for a refund. It isn’t now. That was a month ago. I have asked for a chargeback on my card. That was a week ago. No contact, other than automated, from either.

    I can see the days of paying in full for flights other than today or tomorrow will come to an end. Airlines will never be trusted again.

  2. Ron Harris says:

    Appreciate some advice on this one – I just got an email from BA about a travel voucher – this was for reward flights back from Atlanta on 24th March inc a domestic transfer LHR – EDI.

    In an email I received just now BA say I am not entitled to a travel voucher as I had already started my journey. They cancelled the inbound flights and made no contact with me about rebooking, I had to get my own way back from Atlanta, which I did as a precaution anyway, but they made no effort to contact me.

    Clearly I am going to have to phone them but am I entitled to a whole refund for the booking or for the return legs or nothing as they claim?

    • Ron Harris says:

      Plus weirdly the booking has disappeared from my flight history – is that normal?

    • Lady London says:

      sounds a bit weird. Ok do they did not contact you? When and how did you find out your flight was cancelled? Did you not ask them for a reroute/replacement flight or refund at that time?

      Ok they or your travel agent(if you used one) should have contacted you. If they didn’t I would still expect you to have given them a reasonabl chance to sort you out. So I am hoping to hear you did at least try to contact them but perhaps could not get through on the phone.

      Provided you acted something like the above then they’re talking bolox and they now owe you a refund if you say you want one, that is your right and you don’t have to accept a voucher. With an avios booking especially, you shouldn’t. Agios comes back to you as avios, cash as cash as normally. Just nothing deducted as it wasn’t your change.

      If you get stuck you can go to the UK credit card you paid on request s75 refund of my your alternate cost s to get home – as that was a consequential loss of the cancellation you suffered / replacement cost of what you paid for.

      If you tried to reach them and failed or they refused the airline also owes you any extra accomodation, transport and meals cost if you had to spend longer before your replacement flight – but you had to have given them a reasonable chance to provide these before you arranged yourself – is they refused, their support was nowhere to be found or they were uncontactable. You claim those under EC261 off the airline but under s75 your UK credit card is also liable for these if airline doesn’t pay.

      If you paid on charge card your only option is chargeback which will not cover everything but if it’s Amex talk to them nicely and their reputation is for decades their own help will be quite good.

      • Lady London says:

        Ps as you already consumed the outward part of the ticket your remedies will only have to concern the ticket back from ATL on the 2 flights.

        Nice try but of course since you used half of it you don’t get the used half back as well. If you read the actual EC261 legislation text there is a narrow case where if you do a double Axel and a triple flip you could just about say you deserved the outward back as well but that does not sound like your case.

        • Lady London says:

          So if ba are refusing then you could claim your cost of however you did get back instead – but that doesn’t mean you get a double payout from airline and/or cardco – you choose to claim either your more expensive actual journey home or a return of your cash and avoid.

          • Ron Harris says:

            I couldn’t get in touch with BA when I was in Atlanta, so I took the initiative and booked a one-way with Virgin, BEFORE BA cancelled the inbound flights. But BA didn’t know that obviously.

            But neither did they offer me any rebooking options later when they did cancel the flights, either in MMB or by email. I’m not looking for compensation, merely the refund on inbound legs.

            I will try and phone today

            Thanks

          • Ron Harris says:

            Arrrrghhh BA contact centre just cut you off everytime – how can anybody possibly get through?

          • Lady London says:

            I think you must make clear that when you realised there was a cancellation on your return leg you tried to contact them to request them to reroute/rebook you but you could not get through. Therefore you are looking for a refund of the avios for the return leg and half the taxes or correct proportion of.

            I think to try to recover the cost of transport you took to get back instead is more precarious as you’ve admitted you booked it before you were told your original flight was cancelled. Not impossible to claim depending how you present it, just more precarious.

          • Ron Harris says:

            Thanks very much for the advice and I agree.
            STill not been able to get through on phone though!!

  3. RussellH says:

    Just had an e-mail about our flights from BHX-BCN on 21 May on Vueling, **inviting** me to cancel the booking.
    They will not refund the cash though.
    They are now offering a fully flexible credit to the same value as the flights booked ie. can be used by anyone, for any Vueling flights from anywhere to anywhere EXCEPT that flights have to be booked by 31 December 2020, and flights must be by 30 June 2021.

    I would guess that they are hoping to encourage people to take the credit note before they actually cancel the flight (which is still open for booking – was was a few hours ago…).

  4. Lisa Newman says:

    Aer lingus have stated we have to re book.
    Flight was 27th March to Shannon return 29th or it’s taxes if we cancelled.
    We were advised not to travel by UK government and we requested a refund or vouchers.
    Do you know what are our options now?

  5. If BA only cancels the return leg of my journey and not the outbound, do I get the full refund for both legs? Thanks

    • How could they do that? You mean you travelled out and return was then cancelled?

      If the whole booking has been cancelled by BA you will be entitled to full refund

      • Flights were for middle of May. I got an email from BA to say only the return flight was cancelled but the outbound was still going ahead.

    • Yes

      • Thanks Rob. I’ve just received another email from BA to say the outbound flight is still going ahead.

        • Lady London says:

          You can get a refund for the whole thing. They’ll try to push you into a voucher and online will trick you into getting a voucher so call them as
          early as you can in their opening hours and insist on the cash refund you are entitled to under your statutory rights under EC261/2004 as reminded by the EEC Transport Commissioner to all airlines on 18th March and more recently by the US Dept of Transportation.

  6. easyjet call centers are quite simply closed now… I’ve tried calling in the past three days to the UK, France and Spain and they’re all saying the same thing “we’re very busy at the moment. To avoid waiting for a long time, please call back later”. It means there is no way you can get any money back for your flights and you’re stuck with a flight voucher you may not be able to use for a while… any Idea if you can get your credit card provider to pay you the money back and let them deal with the IOU?

    • Adam G says:

      @ Jean. I send an email to the CEO [email protected]. I had to send a couple of polite chasers but one of his team called me around 1 week after first email and processed the refund and sent an email confirmation. No sign of refund yet but good to have least received confirmation that they have processed it.

    • Lady London says:

      Yes call your credit card raise a dispute under s75 and ask them to refund you as you did not get what you paid for.

  7. Is there a ‘deadline’ for you to request a cash refund on a fully cancelled flight? So if I am not able to get through to BA before the flight was supposed to depart (tomorrow) presumably I can still request the refund after the time/date of the original outbound flight? The note about needing to request the voucher before one hour ahead of check-in close is making me question this, but wondering if even that was just a reference to a flight that was still operating.

  8. Denis says:

    Otel.com: has anyone experienced getting refunds from otel.com? Not hotel.com.

    Asking for a friend – this company is not replying to emails and calls.

    Many thanks.

  9. Marriott status good for next year. I received the following today “Status Extension: We want you to be able to enjoy the status that you earned in 2019. With that in mind, the status you earned in 2019 will be extended to February 2022.”

  10. Trish Sandwith says:

    I have had my BA flights for 23 May cancelled. I’m happy to take a voucher BUT the wedding we were attending has been re-scheduled for June 2021, so would need it to be valid for 13 months. Are BA being flexible on this?

  11. Peter says:

    BA’s 0800 727 800 number results in a recorded message that ‘to protect the well-being of BA staff the call cannot be taken and to call back’ – or something similar. Doesn’t matter what options are pressed or if none are pressed. Looks like getting a refund isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

    Of course, BA could OFFER a voucher AND give a refund alternative on their website which would save call volumes. But we all know why they’re not doing that.

    The javascript ‘work around’ seems to have been blocked.

    • I got that message when I called at 8 am, the time the lines were supposed to open ☹️

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