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Priority Pass and British Airways Flight Pass join the coronavirus ‘no refunds, no extensions’ list

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We have given a lot of coverage on Head for Points recently to airlines and hotel companies who are doing their best to avoid paying refunds.

We aren’t seeing much love from service providers either.

A steady trickle of complaints about airport lounge club Priority Pass and coronavirus refunds has been landing in my inbox.

One reader, who has been a very happy Priority Pass customer, had – mistakenly, he admits – set up his Priority Pass account to auto renew.  His new subscription was taken on schedule, with no attempt to either reduce the fee or extend his membership period for the fact that he won’t be able to use his card for a number of months.

After numerous discussions with the company yielded no deal, he ended up cancelling his card.  He received a refund of the fee that had just been taken, given that the new membership year had not yet kicked in.

In the face of this – and similar feedback from others – I strongly suggest turning off auto-renew in your Priority Pass account.  Obviously this only applies if you pay directly for a Priority Pass and not get it free from American Express Platinum.

Letting your membership lapse may be the best way of getting the company to offer you an equitable deal going forward.  If you are currently part-way through your subscription, there seems little hope at the moment of getting a free membership extension.

EDIT:  A couple of days after we published this article, Priority Pass announced a three month extension for all cardholders.

Priority Pass coronavirus refunds

OptionTown isn’t being very helpful either

We have covered the British Airways Flight Pass on a few occasions.

A British Airways Flight Pass can be an excellent deal.  It is effectively a carnet, allowing you to prepay for a number of short-haul flights on either a particular route or to a particular country.  Once you have bought your Flight Pass, you are guaranteed a seat when you want one as long as tickets are still being sold for cash.

Flight Pass is run by a company called OptionTown on behalf of British Airways.

According to reader feedback, OptionTown is not offering refunds on unused Flight Pass tickets.  This is – to be fair – in their terms and conditions, but clearly it is against the spirit of the scheme when British Airways is not flying to the destination covered by the pass.

If you have any personal feedback from talking to Priority Pass or OptionTown in recent days, please let me know.

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Comments (89)

  • Charlieface says:

    I think the FOS newsletter case 86/3 is relevant in the case of Option Town, case was upheld in where a ferry company went bust and they’d bought a carnet, although the argument there was whether to divide the cost between the tickets and therefore less than £100:
    https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/files/2921/86.pdf

    • Rob says:

      Option Town tickets are also less than £100 each in the vast majority of cases though ….

      • Genghis says:

        But with OptionTown you’re not buying 10 x one way tickets say, you’re buying an entitlement to receive 10 one way tickets, i.e. should be over £100.

        • Lady London says:

          Even a BA booking for 4 people travelling together is covered by s.75 provided the total for the 4 is over £100. On MSE relatively recently.

        • Andrew says:

          Not quite.

          I buy 18 domestic singles for approximately £1200. However, the tickets cannot be redeemed as single, but only as a pair of singles to make a return journey.

          It’s a bit like buying a 9 pack of KitKats and claiming it’s 18 single biscuits.

  • Oz says:

    I currently have Amex Plat and am relying on it to pay a travel insurance claim. If I cancel the card will it invalidate my claim?

    • Rob says:

      Clearly yes if you haven’t submitted the claim. If you have submitted then you need to get the small print out and see if you need to be a cardholder on the day you claim or the day they agree to pay (or indeed the day they actually pay).

      • Charlieface says:

        Technically if the liability arose before you cancel do you actually need to submit it before cancelling. I don’t think so, but obvs would be stupid not to.

  • Andy says:

    Over the last 2 weeks i did have 2 BA flights booked, one reward and one full price, and one emirates/flydubai reward/cash hybrid (for want of a better word). All flights were cancelled, BA rewards points were refunded within 24 hours and the cash followed about 3 weeks later. BA full price was refunded in full within 48 hours. Emirates/Flydubai have gone through a whole range of full refund, partial refund and have now settled on a voucher system, now discussion. This was announced 2 weeks ago, to date the voucher has appeared for roughly one third of the cash i paid and no refund or reward miles on the horizon. I have lived in the middle east on and off since 99 and am leaving for good in June (hopefully) and this behaviour by Emirates has typified their shocking decline in customer service and care from this end. Every time i try to contact them either by phone, FB message or email, it takes days (min 5) for anyone to get back to me, the phone option is the worst by far, im still waiting, 19 days and counting. Emirates has also already started flying again, I do not know if that has been reported in the UK, but their comments suggest that the passengers can continue to socially distance on the flights while they are being repatriated ( I assume that is what they are for, but no formal details have been given yet)

  • nick says:

    If i close my Plat and clear out my MR balance – what happens when my refunds post – with regards to the MR ?

    I would go into a negative balance? What happens then?

    • Genghis says:

      Nothing. I suggest clearing out your points prior to cancellation.

  • Scallder says:

    Just had an email from IHG with the following in it about credit card nights:

    “Anniversary night certificates earned through IHG Rewards Club credit cards (USA & UK):

    We are extending the expiration date of anniversary certificates that are set to expire in 2020. Certificates expiring from 1 March 2020 can now be used through 31 December 2020.

    Certificates issued in 2020 will have an 18-month redemption time period.

    We will be reaching out to cardmembers directly with more information.”

    I used one earned June 2018 and expired June 2019 for a stay in Vienna at the start of May this year. Have just called them and they have essentially said, tough luck. The policy doesn’t allow them to do anything.

    So whilst it’s a positive step them extending vouchers earned from 1st March 2019 (or whatever date would have given an expiry of 1st March 2020), this does nothing for anyone with vouchers attached to existing bookings earned in good faith from 1st March 2018 to 31st December 2018.

    Even asked for the 35k points that the voucher had saved me (would have been worth 55k if they’d given me the voucher back and I could attach it to an existing points booking in November, which is within 6 months of the existing date in May, so is inline with the extensions they’re giving vouchers earned this year).

    Was finally (after a long hold) told to email the Rewards Club to see whether they could sort anything out, but I’m not too hopeful right now which is extremely frustrating…

    • Scallder says:

      Sorry have moved to the chat thread

    • Kevin says:

      I got my free night voucher last month but didn’t receive email as you got while the voucher shown last only 12 months.

  • Tom says:

    I’d go further and assert that auto-renew and auito-pay are always bad ideas.

    It’s always better to dispute a debt if you haven’t already paid it

    • Lady London says:

      Priority Pass is always set to auto renew as default when you buy it. So you have to call them to stop it autorenewing or by default it will.

  • M Jones says:

    The way round any auto-renew obstruction tactic, especially used by Insurance or Broadcast Providers, who all demand a call to cancel your recurring payment, is to lodge a formal complaint in writing. In the UK these complaints are counted and likely later considered by Regulators or an Ombudsman. Most of these Firms will have an online complaint facility, or a letter to their HQ Registered address. If all else fails most have a GDPR email address and certainly a “Media Center” email address. None of these Firms want negative PR as to how they deliberately obstruct concellations at “this difficult time”. It’s a game, we just have to play their game better than them! Takes some searching but can be done.