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When should you accept a British Airways ‘Future Travel Voucher’ instead of a cash refund?

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I want to take a look today at whether you should take a British Airways ‘Future Travel Voucher’ or a cash refund if you decide to cancel an upcoming flight.

Future Travel Vouchers are now more flexible.  Last week, British Airways announced that all Future Travel Vouchers would be extended by 12 months.  The new ‘travel by’ expiry date is 30th April 2023.

British Airways is also working through the backlog of Future Travel Vouchers for ‘all cash’ flight bookings (cash tickets with no payments for seat selection or other anciliaries) and converting them to eVouchers.  If you receive an eVoucher by email to replace your Future Travel Voucher, you can use it online without having to call BA to rebook.  This special page of ba.com explains how to spend an eVoucher.

When should you accept a BA 'Future Travel Voucher' instead of a refund

What is a ‘Future Travel Voucher’?

Think of a ‘Future Travel Voucher’ as a frozen ticket – because that’s what it is.  Your voucher even has the same reference number as your old ticket.

Every component of your ticket – cash, Avios, companion or Lloyds vouchers, payment for seat selection etc – is ‘locked’ into the voucher.

When you want to rebook, you call BA and your ticket is unfrozen.  Irrespective of the original expiry date of any 241 or Lloyds voucher, it will still be valid.  Remember this, however:

  • you can change the destination of your trip, paying more Avios and cash if needed, or getting another voucher for the balance if you now need fewer
  • you cannot change the passenger names – don’t break up with your partner if you are requesting a Future Travel Voucher
  • you cannot change the type of ticket – you cannot use the cash element of an ‘Avios and cash’ ticket to book a pure cash ticket, for example, and you cannot ask for the cash part to be used towards a BA Holidays booking
  • you cannot add a 2-4-1 voucher to a Future Travel Voucher if there was not one there originally
  • all travel must be completed by 30th April 2023

Is it ever worth taking a Future Travel Voucher if I need to cancel a flight?

Sometimes ……

As regular HfP readers will know, British Airways is desperately keen for you to take a Future Travel Voucher rather than a cash refund.  Anyone who wants a cash refund needs to ring up to ask for one, as refund functionality has been removed from ba.com.

This is what I recommend:

Do you have a non-refundable cash flight booking which is still operating?

Take the Future Travel Voucher if you no longer wish to travel.  You have no other option.  However, wait until as late as possible in case British Airways decides to cancel the flight as cancellation allows you to request a full cash refund.

In recent weeks we have seen cases of British Airways ceasing to sell tickets for flights but not cancelling the service.  The cancellation does not take place until a couple of days before departure.  You may need to hold your nerve.

Do you have a non-refundable cash flight booking where the flight has been cancelled?

Contact British Airways and ask for your cash.  There is no benefit in taking the Future Travel Voucher.  Refunds for cancelled flights booked for cash can now be requested online here – there is no need to call.

Do you have an Avios flight booking which is still operating and with NO paid seat reservations and NO 2-4-1 voucher involved?

If you are willing to swallow the £35 cancellation fee per person, I would ring up British Airways and cancel your booking.  Personally I’d prefer the Avios and cash back in my account.

However, wait until the last minute in case the flight is cancelled by BA as cancellation allows you to avoid the £35 fee.

If you don’t want to pay £35, take the Future Travel Voucher but note its limitations (no changes to passenger names, no way to add a 2-4-1 etc).

When should you accept a BA 'Future Travel Voucher' instead of a refund

Do you have an Avios flight booking which is still operating but where you paid for seat reservations?

This is trickier.  If you voluntarily cancel for a refund, you pay the £35 per person cancellation fee and you LOSE the seat reservation fee you paid even though your Avios and taxes are returned.

Instead, I would take the Future Travel Voucher because your voucher will include a separate credit for the seat reservation fees which can only be used against future seat reservations.

However, wait until the last minute in case the flight is cancelled as cancellation allows you to request a full cash refund.

Do you have an Avios flight booking which is still operating and which includes a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher?

This is trickier.  If you voluntarily cancel for a refund, you pay the £35 per person cancellation fee.  Your Avios, taxes and 2-4-1 voucher are returned to you.  However, you need to consider whether you can re-use your 2-4-1 voucher before it expires.

There is no sign yet of BA making an additional, third, extension to expiring 2-4-1 vouchers but I consider it likely.

If you take the Future Travel Voucher, your 2-4-1 voucher is frozen and remains valid for flights completed by 30th April 2023 which gives you extra time to use it.  You will also save the £35 cancellation fee.  You cannot change the passenger names, however, which will be a problem for some people.

Do you have an Avios flight booking which has been cancelled? 

In this scenario, you should call BA and ask for your cash, Avios and any 2-4-1 voucher to be returned to you.  There is no cancellation fee to pay.

Alternatively, BA will move you to ANY future BA flight – even if there are no Avios seats available – to a city within 300 miles of your original destination.  The only catch is that the last date to travel is 365 days from the day you made the original booking.  If you booked your flight a year in advance, you can’t take advantage of this.

Alternatively, if your booking contained a 2-4-1 voucher which is nearing expiry, you may want to take the Future Travel Voucher as this keeps your 2-4-1 alive and you can rebook for flights completed by 30th April 2023.  There is no sign yet of BA making an additional, third, extension to expiring 2-4-1 vouchers although I think it is likely.

Hopefully this will help you decide what to do about your upcoming flights.

If you have any further questions about Future Travel Vouchers, take a look at this page of ba.com.


how to earn avios from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (April 2021)

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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

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

Nectar American Express

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee 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.

If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

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

Comments (159)

  • SuziQ says:

    Our conundrum…. Amex 2-4-1 voucher original expiry date May 2020. Booking for March 2020 cancelled. Rebooked March this year. BA have cancelled Antigua outbound flight and offered an alternative date which we don’t want. Having read various bits I cannot see that BA have yet announced a new expiry date for 2-4-1 vouchers? If we cancel will our 2-4-1 voucher be valid till April 2023 or only 2022?

  • Moore says:

    As far as I am aware BA has not yet said it will extend the 2-4-1 vouchers. I have a similar issue. Flights to SYD. Voucher expires Nov-21 but they extended to Apr-22 to align to travel voucher. Really hoping they extend to Apr-23.

  • Jonny says:

    Was due to fly to Barbados in April on an Avios booking with 2-4-1. BA have today cancelled this flight. Rang them up to re-schedule at Xmas and they have stated that because there is no Avios seat availability in December then they can’t rebook. I asked if they can open up 2x seats on the requested flight and they said they can’t do that. I explained that they had done exactly that on another booking (to Johannesburg) and the guy said that they have changed their policy, or rather they have reverted back to their non-enhanced policy. I sked them when this had happened and he said he didn’t have that information. Am I being fobbed off here, or has anyone else experienced this recently?

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