Do you know you get a refund with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic if you cancel within 24 hours?
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Did you know that both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer a cooling off period for new bookings?
Whilst it is not widely publicised, both airlines let you refund your booking – in full – if you cancel within 24 hours. There are no additional fees and it applies to both fully flexible AND ‘non refundable’ ticket types, including Avios and Virgin Points bookings.
This is especially handy if you make a mistake on your booking, have simply changed your mind or if a more convenient redemption flight opens up. I’ve made use of the cooling off period on several occasions.
I’ve become so used to this benefit that it sometimes surprises me that most airlines don’t offer it. The actual reason, I believe, is that this is a legal requirement for flights booked to/from the United States. For an easy life both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic decided to extend it to all routes.
Refunds when cancelling British Airways flights within 24 hours
You can see the British Airways 24 hour cooling off policy on their website here. To quote:
“If you have booked directly with British Airways and you notice a mistake with your booking after you have paid for your ticket(s), you can cancel your flight booking and claim a full refund without penalty, up to 24 hours from when you make the original booking.”
Whilst the guarantee talks about cancelling if you made ‘a mistake’, you can in reality cancel for any reason as long as your flight is not due to depart within the next 24 hours.
This guarantee only applies to flights booked directly with British Airways. Bookings through travel agents such as Expedia or Opodo are not covered.
To request a refund, you need to call the British Airways call centre. Refunds for Avios redemptions can be managed online.
Note that British Airways Holidays bookings are not covered under the 24 hour cooling off period.
Any cancellations outside of 24 hours will not be eligible for a refund – except for taxes and Government charges – unless you’ve booked a ‘fully flexible’ fare.
Fully flexible tickets can be cancelled online after 24 hours for a £15 administration fee (£30 by phone). Avios tickets can be changed or cancelled at any point up to 24 hours prior to departure for a £35 per person fee.
Refunds when cancelling Virgin Atlantic flights within 24 hours
Virgin Atlantic has a similar policy. It is even less visible than the British Airways policy as it is only mentioned when you actually book a flight. Here is what Virgin Atlantic says:
“If you make a mistake or your plans suddenly change you can easily cancel for a full refund or make flight changes for free within 24 hours, as long as you’ve made the booking at least 7 days before your flight date.”
You can find the policy under ‘Fare Conditions’ before the payment page after selecting your flights
If you want to cancel your ticket outside of the 24 hour cooling off period and have a non-refundable ticket, you can get a refund of the taxes and Government charges minus a £30 administration charge.
Virgin Points tickets can be cancelled up to 24 hours before departure for a £30 per person administration charge.
Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer convenient 24 hour cooling off periods, giving you the option of a full refund if you choose to cancel your flight within a day of booking it.
This is a useful feature and has saved my bacon a handful of times.
Unfortunately other UK airlines do not offer the same protection. easyJet, for example, will let you cancel your flight for a refund within 24 hours of booking but will charge you an administration fee between £49 and £55 per booking for the privilege. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will refund 100% of what you paid.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 2023)
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 Mastercard
Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review
Barclaycard Avios Mastercard
5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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 famous annual 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.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! 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 10,500 Avios.
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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.
EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.
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 bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year 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.