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British Airways tells customers that flights need to move by four hours to trigger a refund

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British Airways has doubled the amount of time by which it can change your flight schedule before you can request a refund.

This could prove troublesome for some passengers, especially on short haul flights.

A schedule change is when your flight time changes but the flight is still operating. This is treated differently to a flight cancellation.

BA British Airways 787-9

Previously, any change in schedule that meant your flight was moved by more than than TWO hours would have triggered the option for rebooking or a full refund.

The new rule of FOUR hours was quietly introduced a few weeks ago in the Standard Customer Guidelines for the travel trade. You can see it on here.

You have three options when British Airways changes your flight timings:

Option 1: Rebooking onto any BA operated service from the same departure and to the same destination, within two days of your original departure date

Option 2: Rebooking onto any joint venture partner flight, again from the same departure and to the same destination, within two days of your original departure date.

This means you can rebook American Airlines, Finnair or Iberia for transatlantic flights, Japan Airlines, Finnair or Iberia for flights to Japan and Qatar Airways for flights to Qatar.

Option 3: Full or part refund of the flight or flights. This option is ONLY available if your flight time has changed by more than 240 minutes, including from origin to destination if it includes connecting flights.

Options 1 and 2 are available for ANY flight retimings. The BA guidelines do not set any minimum delay. Option 3, for a full refund, now only applies to time changes of four hours or more.

This change will hit short-haul passengers the hardest, where a difference of four hours can mean missing a business meeting entirely or take a significant chunk out of a weekend break.

You can see the full terms and conditions on the British Airways website here.

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Comments (67)

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

  • Lady London says:

    Generally a 4 hour flight timing change or delay would seriously damage most short haul trips I do. It would either mean I’d not be able to achieve what I’d travelled for, such as being able to do a day’s work in an office. Instead of only reaching client office with 1-2 hours left in the day to work which is a complete waste of time.

    Alternately this could mean landing so late I am just paying a hotel for nothing just because an airline finds it more
    convenient to them to reneg on the flight times they offered that I bought a ticket from them for. That’s if car hire desk person did stay for a much later flight arrival – plenty dont even when supposed to.

    Easyjet sent out a load of so-called “schedule changes” 6-8 weeks ago and in every case the flight number had changed. Scrupulously, in the email notifying this no flight numbers whatsoever were mentioned in the emails. The flight number booked was not given. The different flight number Easyjet claimed was only a reschedule, was also not given.

    The rights applying to these flights are cancellation rights not retiming rights and it does make one think Easyjet is trying to deny those rights.

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    I see rom the T&Cs that a two hour delay gives a refund, but a three hour 59 minutes reschedule doesn’t.

    When does a reschedule become a delay, or a delay become a reschedule?

    If BA can see an inbound is going to be running three hours late – say, because of fog at LHR – can they “reschedule” it before airport check-in begins?

    • Czechoslovakia says:

      I believe airlines are supposed to give 14 days prior notice for schedule changes, otherwise compensation could be payable.

      • Lady London says:

        except in exceptional circumstances out of the control of the airlines, compensation is payable. Currently Covid is being regarded as a prevailing exceptional circ. So even if BA cancel your flight with less than 14 days notice ni compensation is payable.

        Other provisions of EU261 are still in effect at whatever time BA cancels your flight whether more than 14 days ahead or less.

        • Charlieface says:

          It’s a difficult argument to make if say the plane went tech, or the pilot was drunk, and they argue Covid. What makes Covid such an exceptional circumstance that applies blanket in all cases? End of the day, if it’s their fault it’s their fault

          • meta says:

            Airlines are required to report the reason for cancellation. Both scenarios you describe would happen on the day. It would difficult for BA to play covid card then. However, as with anything these day with BA you would have to fight them.

          • Alan says:

            Why? A lot of businesses seem to be using covid as an excuse nowadays for poor service.

          • meta says:

            @Alan because it’s EU and UK law. They have to pay you compensation for anything extraordinary and tech or pilot getting drunk are not classed as extraordinary circumstance while covid is. So if you can prove that your flight wasn’t delayed/cancelled because of covid, you have a case to get full EC261 compensation (transposed in the UK law until parliament decides otherwise). EU guidelines from March&May are very specific that the regulation is only suspended in relation to cancelations/delays due to covid and nothing else. Airlines and businesses have now had over 7 months and this is getting into abuse territory.

  • david Andrews says:

    Wow, another master stroke by BA. Guaranteed to reduce their dwindling band of customers.
    Why are they buying new aircraft? Never going to fill them

  • Peter Ould says:

    I assume if you booked before the change you could still get a refund on the old terms? If not, how is this not a breach of contract?

    • Andrew says:

      It would be a breach of contract.
      That said, if you need to get a refund on the old terms, expect a battle. Some (10?) years ago BA introduced new charges for cancellations. I had made a booking before they were brought in and they tried to charge me the higher rate. Almost certainly laziness rather than malice but it needed the threat of a charge-back before they relented.

      • Lady London says:

        Yes let us not forget that BA is down now and I have a lot of sympathy for them but they will be back to profiteering as soon as they can.

        As another HfP poster said a couple of months ago, definitely an airline to invest in rather than fly in 🙂

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