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Update 7 April 2020: Please follow this link for my latest post on British Airways refunds as some of the information in this post is now out of date.
Update: 13 April 2020: My second refund just hit my credit card account
British Airways has been one of the many airlines that have been doing their very best to make it as difficult as possible for customers to request full refunds (that they’re entitled to) as they scrabble around desperately trying to cling hold to any cash they can lay their hands on.
Some airlines have flat-out lied to their customers (e.g JetBlue & SWISS), some have blatantly broken their own rules and regional rules too (e.g. United) while British Airways settled on the obstructionist approach by removing the ability to request refunds online, making it hard for less experienced travelers to realize that they’re entitled to a refund and forcing customers to take to phone lines that are already stretched beyond their capacity.
A little over a week ago, a couple of workarounds were found (by people a lot more tech-savvy than me) which allowed British Airways customers to request their refunds via an online form rather than having to wait on the phone lines for hours on end and, as I seem to be getting more and more questions about the state of these refunds, I thought I’d post a quick update on what I’ve experienced and what I’ve noticed.
Who Can Request Refunds
I cannot stress this point strongly enough: Only flyers who have had their flights cancelled by British Airways are entitled to a cash refund.
If you decide that you don’t want to fly anymore and your flight has not been cancelled by BA you are not entitled to a cash refund so do not voluntarily cancel flights without checking what you’ll be getting back.
I requested my first refund on 22 March and my second refund on 23 March and received email confirmations of both cancellation requests within an hour of submitting the online form.
The email content looked like this:
Thank you for your application for a refund of the following booking
British Airways booking reference: XXXX
We have received your information and are currently processing your refund.
We will refund any money owed to the card used to make the
booking and we will send you a confirmation email when it’s been
Since I applied for my refunds I’ve had a lot of people writing in to say that (a) the workaround is no longer working or (b) that they haven’t yet received an email confirmation for Britsh Airways that a refund is being processed.
As things stand, it looks like the link that once directed customers to the online refund form (here) is now only directing customers to a webpage that offers an online voucher form (which is useless if you want a cash refund), but I’m still getting reports that the longer workaround (described here) is working for some.
As far as email confirmations go, it would appear as if British Airways is either working through a massive backlog or they’re no longer sending emails out anymore because things have slowed dramatically – if anyone has received an email from British Airways confirming their refund request in the past few days please let me know in the comments (and let me know when your refund request went in).
Are Refunds Being Received?
There are numerous reports of people who have used the workarounds getting their cash, taxes, and Avios back (in 4 – 7 days) but there are also a lot of reports of people still waiting.
It’s 9 days since I requested my first refund (on an Avios booking) and I have yet to see any Avios returned to my account or see any cash returned to my credit card so I’m in a similar situation to a lot of readers (Update: I have now received both refunds – one refund appeared on my credit card 19 days after my refund request while the other appeared 22 days after my refund request).
I was planning to wait a bit longer to see how things transpire (I can appreciate how busy BA must be with people in more pressing situations than me) but the fact that it has now come to light that a number of British Airlines (including BA) are seeking government permission to ignore the rules which state that cancelled flights = cash refunds, means that I’m likely to be on the phone to British Airways later today asking where my money and Avios are.
Different people are having different experiences but it looks like British Airways is shutting down the website loopholes which have been allowing customers to request refunds, and it looks like the airline is starting to delay (significantly) the repayment of monies due following a refund request.
I’m going to go ahead and see if I can prod BA into acting on both my refunds sooner rather than later (I may pick a time in the middle of the UK night when lines may be quieter) and I suggest that others in a similar situation do the same.
P.S. If you booked your trips in the last 120 days you may be able to get your credit card issuer to issue a chargeback for what the airline owes you so that’s another path some may wish to consider.