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British Airways issues a new coronavirus refund policy

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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 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.

Avios wing 14

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

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?


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?


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?


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.

How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (October 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (158)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • 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.

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