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