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Good experience with British Airways

I had a good experience changing a flight with British Airways today - when I finally got through. I tried repeatedly yesterday, and was told (by the recorded message) that they were too busy; call back later. One of the times I tried I was told that there was a 30 minute wait time; since I was in the middle of cooking dinner, I opted out.

I finally decided to wait and catch them this morning as soon as they opened up, and was able to talk to a real person, who was very helpful and got my problem solved in about 3 minutes.

Now, I wasn't cancelling a flight or asking for a refund. They had replaced our June flight home from Rome with an unacceptable one (touch down in Tulsa at midnight, after spending 8 hours at O'Hare? No, thank you.) So of course, YMMV. But the person with whom I spoke was cheerful and helpful.

Now, as long as RSE doesn't cancel our tour...

Posted by
3904 posts

My experience with BA when they change flight schedules has always been positive. One of the better ones was two years ago when myself and a few friends flew to Italy to watch the England v Italy Six Nations match. The flights to Rome were way inflated so we found it cheaper to fly to Milan and take the high speed train down to Rome for far less.

At around 11pm on our last night I received a text stating that our flight from Milan the following evening had been cancelled due to poor weather forecast. I couldn't get through on the phone but my wife back home perservered on our behalf. We were offered a 6:30 am flight from Milan but there was no way we could get there from Rome for that time so instead we were offered an early evening flight from Rome two days later. Consequently we enjoyed a further two days in Rome at British Airways' expense including a better hotel plus all our meals including wine.

Posted by
1384 posts

Hi Jane, thanks for relating your good experience with BA. I also have flights booked with them in connection with my May Rick Steves tour. My concern has been if either the flight or the tour is changed/cancelled and the other is not. While I also have had good experiences in your situation with flight changes, it's good to know you were easily able to make revisions specifically when your BA itinerary was affected.

Edit: JC, appreciate hearing of your positive experience with BA as well.

Posted by
671 posts

We have BC seats with British Air, leaving for Italy April 13 [arrive Milan, departure Rome]. We are waiting for the change dates to be extended to our dates. Does British Air ever just refund money? Changing dates will be difficult for us. At first I just wanted to substitute another country, but not sure what is wise at this point. This is all unprecedented territory and I wish safe travels- and good health- to all.

Posted by
3769 posts

It was day of, but I had a flight booked to Prague. I booked by our arrival time from Canada, and less than a week after booking our London to Prague leg with BA, air canada changed our arrival time to 4 hrs earlier. Ugh. Contacted them via twitter and I was told to change to the earlier flight would run about half again what we paid for the tickets. When we arrived at LHR at around 7am, I went right to the help desk and they moved us to the earlier flight at no extra charge, saving us about 3.5 hrs of waiting. (I guess we lucked into some empty seats...and it was originally a more expensive flight by about £40\per person). So they won my gratitude for sure!

Posted by
3931 posts

I was ready to pay BA for the change, even had my credit card out and waiting. My concern was how much the price has gone up since we booked, as well as the "change fee" posted when we bought our tickets. But there was no charge whatsoever!

Now, I'm assuming that if we have to change again if RSE cancels our tour, we will have to pay the change fee.

Pleeeeaaaase RSE, please don't cancel our South Italy tour. We've been wanting to take this tour for the last 5 or 6 years. Or more. Sigh. I know it'll depend on the CDC, not just RSE.

Posted by
1384 posts

British Airways has put out a new statement (March 14th) for travels through May 31, 2020:

"To allow greater flexibility, we are enabling customers to change their destination, date of travel, or both for free, on all new bookings made from Tuesday 3 March to Sunday 31 May 2020, as well as any existing bookings that depart up to Sunday 31 May 2020."

They go on to say:

You’re travelling with us between 14 March to 31 May
"You can cancel your booking and receive a voucher for the same value. Vouchers are valid for 12 months and can be used to any destination.
Your voucher can be used as part payment towards a future booking to any destination. It must be redeemed for travel on flights taken within 12 months of your original date of departure."

This is very generous in that the voucher can be used for 12 months from original date of departure, rather than 12 months from date of purchase. This is very good news for many travelers like me. I purchased my BA ticket last November.

You can click on their "Get Your Voucher" link and fill out the details of your journey to take advantage of their offer.

Edit: One additional clarification from their "Get Your Voucher" page, where they state:
"This voucher can be used as part payment towards a future booking. It must be redeemed for travel on flights taken within 12 months of the date of the first flight in your original booking...."

That sounds as though travel must be completed within the 12 month window they describe. Ideally, travel would just have to be started within that 12 months, but hey …. not the time to complain, since this is more than I've seen from other airlines where travel must be completed within 12 months of original purchase date.

Posted by
3931 posts

CWsocial, that does sound good. We're planning (hoping) that if our RS tour is cancelled, we can sign up for a later date.

Posted by
1384 posts

Jane, we're hoping that we'd be able to do the same. Our RS tour is in May, so we're within the window for British Airways vouchers and RS allowing reschedules, but not yet to the point that BA has cancelled our flights and had to issue refunds. We're definitely weighing our alternatives.

Posted by
3931 posts

Yep, our tour is May 18. Is there a time limit on when we can apply for the voucher? I don't want to cancel our flight yet; I'm still hopeful that we can make our tour.

Posted by
1384 posts

I found this in their FAQ on the statement page:
FAQ: When can a booking be exchanged to receive the voucher?
"Flight only bookings can be exchanged up to the close of check-in."

A few additional points:

  1. If your flight is eventually cancelled, you would get a refund, with no requirement on how or when to spend that money
  2. Charges such as excess baggage or seat selection will be transferred to the new booking (I assume, but don't know if, those would also be refunded in the event the flight is cancelled)
  3. FAQ: How do you use the voucher? "Once you receive your voucher via email, simply call our contact centre and quote the voucher code to use it."

They don't say that you can enter the voucher code to make an online booking. This could put you back at the mercy of getting through to a call center.

Posted by
100 posts

Pat, BA will give you a greatly reduced refund after you pay fees for the outgoing and returning flight. You will not get all of your money back.

Posted by
1384 posts

Hi Debbie, so if I'm understanding you correctly, if the flight is cancelled, the refund will not be 100% of what you paid. But the voucher, according to their language, will be the "same value" (I assume they mean 100%) of what you paid. So from a pure $$ perspective, the voucher is better - although it's limited to use within 12 months whereas the refund has no such time limit.

Did I get that right?

Posted by
8502 posts

If BA cancels your flight they will offer you a voucher. But they have to refund ALL of your money if you request it. This is different than if you cancel or change a flight. Then they don't have to refund everything but can charge you fees.

If you change or cancel your flight, they can keep seat fees, extra baggage fees, etc. They can also charge you a change fee which is mostly being waved for certain dates. However, if they cancel the flight, and they don't offer anything suitable to you, they can't charge you fees for a refund. They have to return all of your money.

Oh, if you decide to change and the new flights are more expensive, you will have to pay. But BA may not hold you to that. They may just evenly exchange.

To use the voucher online, you could make your reservations online, place them on hold, and then call BA to use the voucher as payment. All the customer service agent would need is your record locator. Yes, you would have to call unless BA makes it easy to enter your promo code which I doubt they will do since their website isn't that good to begin with.

Posted by
1384 posts

Frank II, thank you so much for those clarifications! Very helpful in knowing our options.

Posted by
1384 posts

I received notice overnight (April 17) that my May 11th flight (Denver to London) has been cancelled. My refund is now in progress and I will provide a few details for anyone else still waiting.

  • Received text and emails overnight of flight cancellation and rebooking (that's a funny story, I'll add it below for humor)
  • I already knew the website would only process vouchers, so I called the 877 (toll-free) number to request a full refund
  • 6 attempts to call BA in which I got a recording that my call could not be taken at that time due to heavy volumes
  • 7th attempt, I got into the queue and waited 45 minutes (not bad!)
  • provide booking details, address, email and (importantly) last 4 of the booking credit card
  • a very nice gentleman working from home in Manchester, England kindly processed my full refund, including seats
  • I've already received the first email notice of refund
  • he told me to watch for the refund to my credit card in 2 or 3 days

Update Apr 21, 2020: full refund credited to my VISA, including full fare and extra seat assignment

OK, the humorous story. My flight was multi-city, Denver to London and the return from Moscow, Russia back to Denver.

The text informed me that my outbound flight had automatically been rebooked onto an alternate flight - which is - the exact same as my return flight. Clearly, that isn't what they intended for me to fly. I'm guessing they just do that because there is no other option for them to book me to and it makes it obvious that I cannot accept the new "routing." :-)

Posted by
3931 posts

CW, my flight was eventually cancelled, and, as I posted elsewhere, I was able to get through to BA with little trouble. The very nice staff person said I would get the full refund applied to my credit card, but that it could take up to 30 days.

The amount we had paid for a seat upgrade was refunded almost immediately, but we're still waiting for the balance. That was April 9; she said if we hadn't received it within 30 days to call back.

Posted by
1384 posts

Hi Jane - interesting that you haven't received your refund, since I spoke to them a week later [corrected] and already have mine. It's a good sign that you got the seat assignment refund, which they told me had to be processed first.

Presumably just a matter of time, but probably worth checking back before your original departure date, just in case someone missed a step.

Posted by
3931 posts

Yes, CW, that's just what I was thinking. As it happens, the 30 days is up before the original flight date. And our BA account shows no active flights, so the whole thing has indeed been cancelled.

I'll keep checking the credit card account, and will call BA if nothing shows up in the next couple of weeks.

Posted by
1384 posts

Oh that's an excellent sign that it's not showing in your account!

Posted by
12 posts

I had to cancel my British Airways round trip tickets from SFO to Edinburgh Scotland due to a broken leg. They only refunded $588 (taxes). I finally spoke to a rep today. Sorry no further refund and no voucher either. Business class tickets and seat selection totaled over $6100! They sure made money off of me. Hoping my travel insurance will pay up, but I haven’t heard yet. Bummed out. Hard to absorb a hit like this at my age(68).

Posted by
3931 posts

entertainangels: Yikes! Let's hope the trip insurance comes through. If not, check with your credit card comany; some of them offer some kind of trip insurance when you use their card for flights. It's certainly worth a phone call! Especially since you're cancelling for a medical reason.

Good luck. Let us know what happens.

Posted by
671 posts

Our experience with BA is that the flights weren't canceled until about three weeks before the scheduled dates. Good luck.

Posted by
1384 posts

tanderson77150

I had 3 British Airways segments booked on a single ticket. The airline cancelled one segment, the first. I called them and let them know I wanted a refund, which they cheerfully processed (the guy on the phone was really quite personable and friendly) and I received the refund to my VISA card within about 4 days. (Others have had to wait much longer for their refunds; not sure why mine processed so quickly.)

The details are in my post above, dated 4/17/2020.

Posted by
3931 posts

tanderson77150: If any leg of your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a refund for the whole thing. Only one leg of our flight was cancelled (one of six, ) and we were eligible for a refund of the whole itinerary. See CJsocial's story, as well.

You do not have to cancel the other parts of your trip to get the whole thing refunded. Unless, of course, you bought each part separately.

Posted by
3931 posts

Update on our refund situation.

I called BA April 7, and was told we were eligible for a full refund. In fact the amount we paid for our seat selections was refunded to our credit card immediately, as were the points we spent on those seats. The staff member who handled our query said if the balance hadn't appeared back on our credit card within 30 days, to call back.

Well, I've been checking daily, and nothing. So this morning I called BA customer service again, and was on hold for only 11 minutes. The cheerful person who answered verified our claim, and said the branch which was handling our refund had been on lock down because of the virus, and all processing on claims which had been sent to that office stopped. The office has now reopened, and we're good to go. He said that that particular office had a tremendous backlog, but work has resumed.

He also said I had to option of asking that our claim be sent back to the original office, the one I had called a month ago, but that I would be put at the end of the (very long) line, so I'd be better off just keeping it as it is.

He said they have offices in four countries working on these refunds, and each country is operating under different C-19 rules, which explains why CWsocial got her refund within days, but I'm still waiting.

There is an admittedly very slim chance we may be traveling later this year, and I'd sure hate to have to book plane tickets before this is resolved. The cash that's in limbo with BA would more than pay for another booking.

At least my claim is still active and approved. I was concerned it had disappeared somewhere in the bowels of the very complicated system. I'll report back when I know more. The staffer said he'd flag my account and try to hurry it up a bit.

Posted by
3931 posts

Final update: We finally got our BA airfare credited back to our credit card! Whoopee!

It took almost 6 weeks from the day I first called them to request a refund for our cancelled flights. I will say that the BA staffers with whom I spoke were unfailingly cheerful and courteous.

Done!

Posted by
1384 posts

Jane, so glad you finally got your refund! It seems I must have won the refund lottery in terms of which office my claim was assigned to.

And in case you weren't having enough fun getting through to busy customer service centers, I've read about credit card customers contacting their credit card company and successfully requesting a check when they have a large refund due.