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British Airways Finally Extends Its ‘Book With Confidence’ Policy

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Update 28 January 2021: British Airways has now extended the validity of its travel vouchers by a year (to 30 April 2023) and has now updated its ‘changing your booking’ policy to only cover travel due to take place by 30 April 2022 (the policy had been left open-ended).

For some time now, British Airways has been waiving changes fees for bookings involving travel through 31 August 2021 but while that deadline may have seemed appropriate back in October or early November last year, it has been in need of review for some time. Luckily, British Airways has finally come to that realization.

With the nation going into various stages of lockdown in December (resulting in the full lockdown we’re seeing now), being forced to close all schools in the first week of January, banning travel from an entire continent under two weeks ago, and currently discussing new forced quarantine measures for international travelers, it has been obvious for some time that the UK isn’t going to be returning to “normal” any time soon.

Unsurprisingly, this has had a significant effect on future travel bookings and the fact that British Airways was, up until yesterday, not prepared to waive change fees for travel past 31 August, was almost certainly putting a lot of people off from making any bookings with the airline for the last four months of this year (especially as Virgin Atlantic’s policy has been considerably more generous).

Now, however, the airline has updated its ‘Book With Confidence‘ policy and it’s looking considerably more flyer-friendly. Here’s what you need to know:

For Travel Booked Before 3 March 2020

If the airline has canceled one or more flights in a traveler’s itinerary the traveler is entitled to a full refund.

For travel that hasn’t been canceled by the airline, customers who no longer wish to travel may request a voucher for future travel as long as their original travel plans were due to start by 28 February 2021 (originally, BA’s BWC terms required travel to be due to start by 31 January).

Vouchers can be used as payment, or part-payment, for a future booking but any new trip booked with a voucher must be fully completed by 30 April 2022 30 April 2023.

For Travel Booked From Or After 3 March 2020

If the airline has canceled one or more flights in a traveler’s itinerary the traveler is entitled to a full refund.

For travel that hasn’t been canceled by the airline, the new Book With Confidence policy now covers bookings for travel to 30 April 2022.

Passengers who have bookings that they no longer wish to go ahead with can request a voucher for future travel without incurring a change-fee (any new trip booked with a voucher must be fully completed by 30 April 2022 30 April 2023), or they may change their dates of travel and/or the destination they’re traveling to without incurring a change-fee (any fare differences will have to be covered by the traveler).

Travel Voucher Deadlines

Update 28 January 2021: British Airways has now extended the validity of its travel vouchers by a year (to 30 April 2023).

As you will have probably seen from the information above, while British Airways is now waiving change fees for travel at any point in the future, it hasn’t extended the date by which travel booked with travel vouchers has to be made. That deadline remains at 30 April 2022.

While it’s hard to second guess what BA management is thinking or what it will do next, it’s hard to imagine the voucher expiry date not being extended if the current situation persists for more than another month (which it almost certainly will).

Even if the UK suddenly starts to pull itself out of the quagmire it’s currently in, a wide array of international destinations will continue to have problems of their own and, where they’re doing better, they’ll continue to be reluctant to open up to UK travelers until there’s a lot more certainty in the world.

Travel isn’t going to magically restart on any kind of scale in March, April, or May so I’m reasonably confident that British Airways will be left with no option but to extend the validity of its future travel vouchers past April 2022.

What Does Virgin Atlantic’s Policy Say?

As a side note, I thought it may interest some readers to see what the Virgin Atlantic COVID policy currently says:

When you book to travel any time up to 31st December 2021, you can make up to two date changes and one name change free of charge (if you’d like someone else to benefit from your ticket). You may not need to pay any difference in the fare either – see the table below for more on that.

We’ll also waive the full fare difference if your new travel is completed before 31 March 2021.

You can rebook to travel any time up to 31 December 2022.

Tickets issued before 12th June 2020 are entitled to one free change. After 12th June 2020 it’s two free changes, or one name change.

On the whole, I’d say that that is a more generous cancelation policy than BA’s so if you’re planning to travel on a route that both airlines operate this may be something worth bearing in mind (I made good use of Virgin’s policy very recently).

Bottom Line

British Airways has updated its COVID travel policy to indicate that it is now waiving change fees for all travel in the future. If you’re planning any trips from September onwards this should give you more confidence to book with BA but it’s worth taking a look at Virgin Atlantic’s policy if you’re ambivalent about which airline transports you to your destination.

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