Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

British Airways issues a new coronavirus refund policy

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

British Airways has just improved its coronavirus rebooking and refund policy.

This includes extending the window for cancelling existing bookings.

Up until now, only travellers booked on services until 31st May had the option to convert their booking into a voucher.  This has now been extended to all travel until 31st July. You can see the announcement on ba.com here.

The only way to claim a cash refund from British Airways is via the increasingly busy phone lines.  The Head for Points coronavirus refund and cancellation policy article has more details on different booking types.

What are my options for a British Airways coronavirus refund?

This is how we see it.

Did you book with cash for a flight departing AFTER 31st July?

If you booked before 3rd March, there is nothing you can do.  You will need to wait a few weeks to see if BA extends its refund policy for travel in August and beyond.

If you booked on or after 3rd March, you can rebook your ticket for another date between now and the end of 2020.  However, you must pay any fare difference.

Did you book with cash for a flight departing BEFORE 31st July?

Is your flight still operating and you are due to travel in the next few days?

If your flight is not cancelled and you are travelling very soon, you have no choice.  You must either travel or take a British Airways voucher.  Cash refunds are not available for flights which are operating.

Is your flight still operating but it is for travel in a few weeks or months time?

If this is you, you have two options:

You can – today – accept the British Airways travel voucher, or

You can wait until nearer the date of departure to see if BA does cancel your flight.  If it does, you are entitled to call up and request a cash refund.

Is your flight already cancelled?

You have two options:

You can accept the British Airways travel voucher via the BA website, or

You can ring British Airways and ask for a cash refund

British Airways coronavirus refund policy

Did you book with Avios?

If you booked with Avios, here are your options:

Is your flight operating, and departing BEFORE OR ON 31st July?

If so …..

You can accept the British Airways travel voucher via the BA website or

You can ring British Airways and ask for a cash and Avios refund, paying the £35 per person cancellation fee, or

You can wait to see if your flight gets cancelled, which will save you the £35 per person cancellation fee

Is your flight operating, and departing AFTER 31st July?

If so …..

You can ring British Airways and ask for a cash and Avios refund, paying the £35 per person cancellation fee, or

You can wait to see if your flight gets cancelled, which will save you the £35 per person cancellation fee

Is your flight cancelled?

You have two options:

You can accept the British Airways travel voucher via the BA website (no fees apply) or

You can ring British Airways and ask for a cash and Avios refund (no fees apply)

British Airways changes coronavirus flight refund policy

Does my voucher guarantee me a flight for the same price?

No.

You need to be very clear about this.  The British Airways refund vouchers do NOT guarantee you a flight to the same destination for the same price.  It is simply a cash and/or Avios voucher to be spend how you wish.

If you had booked a £300 flight to New York but decide to rebook for a date where tickets are £500, you will need to pay the additional £200 on top.

Are the British Airways flight refund vouchers transferable?

No.

The person who receives the voucher must be a passenger on the rebooked flight.

Does it make any difference if you paid with Avios and/or a 2-4-1 voucher?

Yes.

If your booking contained Avios and/or a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher, you do NOT get the Avios and voucher redeposited in your British Airways Executive Club account.

Instead, the Avios and 2-4-1 voucher are rolled up into the voucher, along with your cash.

We have reports of people who have tried to rebook a 2-4-1 ticket being refused unless their flight was to the same Avios zone.  It is not clear if this is policy or just confused agents at the call centre.

Whatever the rules, trying to mix Avios, a 2-4-1 voucher and cash into a new booking is going to be messy.  Using a voucher from a cash booking is obviously far easier.

Edit: anecdotal evidence in the comments suggests that the 2-4-1 voucher will be valid as long as the voucher as a whole, ie. until April 2022.

What happens to the expiry date on my BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher?

The voucher you receive if you cancel your flight and accept a voucher is valid until 30th April 2022.

However, what happens if your voucher includes a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher which expires before 30th April 2022 (as virtually all of them will)?

Does your BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher get extended to 30th April 2022?  Or is your travel voucher actually going to partially expire early?  We can’t get an answer to this question.

British Airways coronavirus flight refund policy

All existing coronavirus cash refund vouchers are extended

British Airways is also extending existing refund vouchers. Under the previous policy all travel had to be completed within 12 months of your original dates. All new and existing vouchers can now be used up until 30th April 2022, mirroring Virgin Atlantic’s generous voucher scheme.

(The original 12 month rule was unfair because you had to fly back before the expiry date, not just travel out.  This meant that anyone who had booked for Easter 2020 could not use their voucher for Easter 2021.)

As noted above, it isn’t clear what happens to BA Amex 2-4-1 vouchers which are embedded in vouchers but are due to expire before 30th April 2022.

Remember that vouchers can only be used by ringing up to book.  They are not valid online.  This may change but you shouldn’t bet on it.

British Airways Holidays bookings

British Airways has also recently changed the payment schedule for BA Holidays bookings. If you have a a flight + hotel or car booking then you now only need pay the balance due 3 weeks before departure. If you have a medium term booking (eg. July, August, September) then it is best to wait and see how the travel situation evolves.

Is the new British Airways coronavirus refund policy an improvement?

Whilst British Airways still appears to be trying its best to prevent people from getting cash refunds, the new voucher policy is a necessary improvement on the previous offerings which were exceptionally poor when compared to other airlines.

If you have a voucher it should now be much more useful although, of course, you are still on the hook for any fare difference when you rebook.

This HFP article outlines the coronavirus policies for the major UK airlines and hotel groups.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Comments (158)

  • Steve says:

    As BA’s website said people had to fill in voucher application form as a starting point to get a refund I now have vouchers I will never use. The published refund phone number says we are busy and hangs up.
    I have asked my bank to do a chargeback but 4 weeks later that have not responded.
    My next move is the small claims court moneyclaim online.

  • WhySee says:

    I’m in a similar situation to Peter. Had flights booked from London to Barbados for June 2020 and both legs were cancelled today. Booking was done with the 241 voucher. I called up BA to get a refund which would’ve given me my tax back in cash, Avios and 241 (expiring in Jan 2021). However, they proposed an alternative which was to get the future travel voucher which would expire April 2022 and have my 241 voucher, Avios and cash all embedded within it, thereby effectively extending my 241 by more than a year.

    I don’t need the cash now and I don’t envisage being able to travel before Jan 2021. My main concern is that BA could go bust and I’ll be left holding a future travel voucher that ends up being worthless.

    Any thoughts or help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.

    • WhySee says:

      It definitely seems like a good deal since we’d be able to extend the expiry of the 241 voucher!

      Also worth noting that if you get the future travel voucher, apparently if the new 241 flights that you book require less tax and fewer Avios, you’ll get a refund on the Avios that you’ve “overpaid” but the excess tax money returned to you will be in the form of yet another future travel voucher, NOT cash. This is what they told me over the phone yesterday.

  • Gary says:

    Does anyone know what the default position is with BA if you never manage to get through to them on the phone to ask for a cash refund?
    They have cancelled my flights to Faro and I’d like a refund which it says I have to call to discuss. But I never get past the recorded message telling me to try again later.
    Will they eventually just refund the cash, if I do nothing, or will they eventually issue a voucher? Maybe after the flights were due to operate?
    Unsurprisingly this is not covered in the FAQ’s section on their website.

    • Rob says:

      If it’s cancelled I wouldn’t fuss too much. They owe you the money. If you don’t claim it for a couple of months it will still be there waiting for you. Legally they can’t force a voucher on you.

      • Gary says:

        Thanks Rob. I don’t want it to default to a voucher. I’m happy to wait for a refund as long as I will get it eventually. Interestingly you seem to be much better off if you’ve booked a BA Holiday. I’ve had two of those cancelled and that money gets refunded automatically about a week after cancellation. Worth bearing in mind in the future I think.

        • Danielle says:

          Does anyone know what happens if you paid for your flight in cash and then upgraded with avios? I’ve just had my flight cancelled and spend 60,000 avios on upgrading my husband and I to business. I believe I won’t get the avios back, but do we know if they are giving a ‘cash alternative’?

  • David says:

    My flight for 6 is scheduled for August 13th and with BA only offering vouchers for flights up to 31st July i thought i’d speak to them and ask for then to put us on a flight for 2021, they refused point blank so i thought i’d ask for a refund and cancel the flights instead. The flights cost me £3500 plus £312 for the seats which included the use of some points.. I was offered a refund by BA for a total of £452.00 incurring a cancellation fee of over £3000, how many other families have flights booked for School Holiday times? Quite a lot i would imagine, BA have us over a barrell if they dont cancel the flights for August to the USA

    • Rob says:

      Three options:
      1. They extend the voucher option into August (very likely)
      2. They don’t extend the voucher scheme but they cancel one or both legs (= full cash refund)
      3. Neither of the above happen and you have to fly or lose your money

      3. is very unlikely.