It seems British Airways is slowly relaxing their chaotic voucher only refund system after passengers had their flights cancelled though customers still have to call in to receive their money back.
To say British Airways has so far been handling the refund situation amidst the Coronavirus crisis dishonestly is probably the understatement of the century.
The carrier even went so far as to modify the code of their website for the refund button to disappear in order to deliberately divert customers to a “voucher request” form.
When passengers then requested the vouchers they often received this result:
How is it going to help anyone to still have an open return flight to Europe from South America or Australia while already being back home and out of pocket for a replacement flight? These passengers are owed CASH refunds!
The disappearance of the button has also affected BAEC members who were seeking to refund an Avios ticket
We have received many emails and messages these last 1-2 weeks however that now report success in requesting cash refunds over the phone.
Aside from using the general reservation hotline in the UK, customers reported success in calling individual country numbers in North America or Asia as well as the hotlines quoted to them per the Executive Club membership level.
Meanwhile British Airways COVID-19 response website doesn’t mention anything about cash refunds, only their usual voucher language is repeated there. Meanwhile they have also reduced the operating hours of the call centers.
According to the experiences by readers, claims for cash refunds were processed by the agents on the phone and some of them have already hit the credit card accounts of customers. We therefore recommend to keep trying to get BA on the phone and push for a refund in cash if your flight has been cancelled.
Those who have booked a vacation package with BA Holidays seem to have it the easiest and many packages are now being refunded even without a specific request. This is because tour operators that sell packages (flight+hotel/car etc) operate under different rules than standalone air tickets.
Remember: Entitlements for cash refunds do not stretch to voluntary cancellations if your flight still operates but you’re unwilling or unable to take it due do immigration restrictions.
Airlines are in a difficult position right now. On one hand it’s indisputable that passengers are owed cash refunds and the carriers are awfully aware of this. We have covered the topic extensively in the last couple of weeks and even the media is beating the drum now that thousands of passengers have petitioned their MP’s and approached media outlets such as the BBC.
The downside of the argument is as we reported yesterday with Lufthansa that with all their liabilities even the biggest players are short before going bust unless the government comes to chip in. So far there hasn’t been any conclusion as to a government bailout yet in the UK.
Should a big carrier go bankrupt all existing tickets would lose their value and customer would essentially be creditors and get in line to receive anything from the insolvency mass, likely pennies on the pound. I highly doubt this will happen though and sooner rather than later governments will come out with rescue packages for their big national airlines like it already happened in the U.S.