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Big news: BA is being more flexible on rebooking your cancelled flights

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Ever since British Airways was forced to start cancelling flights due to the pandemic, there have been issues about how rebookings were handled.

EC261 legislation (PDF), and the new equivalent in UK law, says that, if a flight is cancelled, a passenger can move it to another date which is ‘at the passenger’s convenience’. This is not a phrase which is defined.

The policy adopted by British Airways was this. They were willing to move your flight up to a year from the original date of booking.

BA has got a lot more flexible on rebooking cancelled flights

This was NOT the day you were due to fly. It was one year from the day you physically booked the flights.

On the upside, British Airways was being ultra-flexible. No Avios seats available? No problem. Cash tickets now far more than you originally paid? No problem.

There is no doubt that some people took advantage of this. Many booked flights to the Maldives or Caribbean on dates which were certain to be cancelled. They would claim that the only ‘convenient’ date to rebook was over Christmas and New Year when flights were at super-premium prices. Remember, the rule was ‘no Avios seats? No problem’.

On the other hand, some people seemed to be unfairly treated. If you had booked Avios seats 11 months ahead, you had zero flexibility over rebooking because you were about to hit the one year limit. Many people ended up taking refunds – not a problem for most, but difficult for those who booked in the ‘50% off’ Avios sale last October who would now need to rebook at full Avios price.

If you didn’t like BA’s policy, your only choice was to pursue the airline via CEDR arbitration or Money Claim Online. Many HfP readers did this.

BA has got a lot more flexible on rebooking cancelled flights

British Airways seems to have changed its rules – for the better

Very quietly, a new policy seems to have been introduced on 8th July.

This is not written anywhere unfortunately. British Airways simply seems to have changed its definition of ‘ticket validity’ from 12 months from the date of booking to 12 months from the date you were due to fly.

This means that, for example, anyone who booked in September 2020 for travel in August 2021 can now rebook through to August 2022, rather than September 2021.

This change will come too late for many people who booked in the ‘50% off’ Avios sale last Autumn, although it has come in time to protect the Summer trips of many people.

If you want some proof that this policy change has taken place, take a look at this Flyertalk thread from post 37 onwards. Note that, looking at the comments, many telephone agents are not yet up to speed with the changes.

Comments (126)

  • Nathan says:

    What’s the latest on cancelling an avios flight? Are there any options other than voucher?

    • Federico says:

      if the flight is cancelled you get the money back if it was an avios booking or cash.. i had my points and money back for an avios booking last week

    • BrightonReader says:

      Yes cancel and pay the £35 fee. If the cash element as less than that then there’s no more to pay.

  • numpty says:

    Just rebooked a 50% avios 241 booking into ‘commercial’ seats on Qatar for next year (fingers crossed), happy days. I’d tried and failed a few times to call and cancel this booking but could never get through, so extra chuffed at outcome.

    • cheng says:

      Just checking, has your flight been cancelled in the first place?

      I am trying to assess if I can rebook my flights as I was not told it was changeable within 12 months of the original flight date. Thanks

      • Numpty says:

        I had a Edi to Kul where one of the sectors was cancelled.

        My original booking had been with BA who cancelled the KUL route, which opened up the chance to rebook onto Qatar, followed by another rebooking due to cancellations.

        The Qatar flight is booked as a BA flight/codeshare.

  • Tim says:

    FYI I had my J class flight from GRU for Sept 21 cancelled today, booked last Oct in the Avios 50% off sale, so with the old policy would have had less than a month to rebook. Went onto ba.com manage my booking and when I went to rebook the flights it has let me rebook for July 22. happy days   now I just need my F flights to SIN cancelled for Oct

  • Rich S says:

    Does anyone know if this could be applied retrospectively? I made a booking during the 50% off Avios promo and the flight was cancelled. I contacted BA on Twitter, who replied 4 days later to say I could only move the booking by 14 days under the terms of the sale. By this time, BA had suspended the Costa Rica route entirely until Nov 2021, so they were asking the impossible!

    They refused to let me switch to another destination, but asked if I would like them to check any other specific dates. I found Avios availability and offered them dates, but I had a reply “In order for us to be able to rebook those dates, we’d need to be able to get the exact class of availability that you had. Sadly there aren’t any dates around then which we’d be able to book. “.

    I asked how I could search for seats in the correct booking class – the flights I had already found were showing available to book with Avios on BA.com – received the following reply:

    “The options we have for you with your ticket is to claim a full refund of your ticket plus your Amex voucher. However you would need to use your Amex voucher before it expires. Alternatively, you can claim for a future travel voucher and your ticket and Amex voucher will be valid until April 2022. If you do want to rebook for a later date Avios Seats would need to be available and if there’s any difference in fare and taxes this will need to be paid. The way your searching on http://ba.com is the correct way. It will show you if there is any seats available for Avios. I hope this helps?”

    The completely had me over a barrel… they had cancelled the route until after the expiry of my Companion Voucher, they told me seats which showed as available were not actually available, and said I could’t switch to another destination and still have the 50% off discount from the sale as this was contrary to the sale T&C’s.

    I felt this was a complete stitch-up, they couldn’t give me any options to rebook that route or anywhere else with the sale price at all, and effectively forced me into taking a FTV 🤔 I’ve now rebooked Costa Rica for January 2022 with the FTV, but had to pay the full Avios price. Sounds as though I din’t have to do this?

  • Shamrock says:

    Dubai in August.
    BA just cancelled my first class flight (50% off promo) this is the 2nd time they cancelled. I booked in Oct 20 and when I asked to move flight to 2022 they said no as 1 year applies to when booked. Only option ( BA person very insistent on phone) is
    A) refund
    B) voucher

    What a joke and not at all what I read I this article. I said twice that I understood rules had changed but person was insistent not the case.
    Over a barrel indeed a no one to complain to.

    • London Phil says:

      How odd
      We were scheduled to go to Chicago End June 2012 First Class from Avios 50%
      Flight was cancelled and I was intending to go to CEDR as we were originally told no movement beyond October 2021
      After the announcement we rang Yesterday and have rebooked to May 2022 with no extra avios required
      Happy Days

      • Shamrock says:

        Thanks London Phil, I will leave for a day or two and try again. If I go to CEDR do I leave the booking in place and take no action (so don’t take refund or voucher). So wait until CEDR rule then take action? Assume this could be a few months away.

    • numpty says:

      I had the same issue with BA CS, i was insistent with them – the policy update was sent out on 8 July. When they asked where i got my info from i told them HfP and Flyertalk (!), they went and checked with a manager and came back and apologised.

      What i did wonder is how many refunds that agent had processed as FTVs as they didnt know the rule change.

      • DJW says:

        I had CPT on the 747 club return deal cash ticket for £999 booked in Oct 2020 for Feb 21. Also two 50% avios deals to Rio March 21 and first to SCL return club from EZE in May both booked in Oct 2020. All three were cancelled of course.

        I called BA on 6 separate occasions, the last time after Robs article. I surely can’t have got the wrong agent that many times. I insisted to speak to a supervisor / manager and was simply refused.

        I also mentioned HFP and Flyertalk and the agent (who was proud to have been doing this for 10 years) stated that he was aware of the change but the advice from management was it was still not possible to change to 12 months from travel date.

        BA have had my cash for so long now I may wait until October (3 bookings made within 2 days) to see if anything else happens.

        Seems I have no option but to take the cash back for CPT and vouchers for the 2 avios bookings and (losing the 50% deal) to extend the voucher.

        Any further advice would be appreciated.

        Thanks

  • DERMOT B DOBSON says:

    BA just cancelled and rebooked me to a new flight that doesn’t work for us, and I’ve cancelled for a voucher. I now have several vouchers including a part-used one that ‘paid’ for new flights in November.

    Is there any easy way of finding just what total value of vouchers I have on my account and their end-date, without digging through emails from the last year or more?

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