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Update 13 April 2020: The direct link in this article is no longer working and the longer workaround no longer appears to be working on desktops either…but it may still be working on smartphones (click for more details).
If you’d rather not play around with your smartphone settings or if the smartphone workaround doesn’t work for you click here for your offline options.
There’s a saying that says that desperate times call for desperate measures, and a number of airlines appear to be taking that saying very literally as they blatantly attempt to circumvent laws that dictate that passengers are due a refund if an airline cancels their flights. British Airways is one such airline.
Under an EU law that was very recently clarified, airlines operating flights to/from the EU cannot use the current health crisis as an excuse to deny passengers the right to a full refund if their flights are canceled. Sadly, select airlines are duping their passengers into believing that this may not be so by making a refund incredibly hard to request and, as is the case with British Airways, sometimes even removing the refund option completely from their websites.
I recently had a couple of my BA short-haul flights canceled and this is what I was presented with when I logged in to my account:
- There’s a very clear statement there that reads “You may obtain a full refund by cancelling your entire booking”
- There’s a clear statement there that reads “To re-book or refund please call us”
- There’s a button to click which reads “cancel and refund flight(s)”
I have multiple issues with this:
Firstly, point 2 appears to contradict what the button says because the button is inviting the website’s users to cancel and refund a flight online while point 2 says a call is required to refund. Which is it BA?
Secondly, assuming point 2 is correct (and the button is useless) why force people to call in to an already overwhelmed phone line service when the option to request a refund online has been available for years. Why did BA remove this option from its site?
Thirdly, the button which claims to offer customers the option to cancel and get a refund leads to a page that looks like this:
If you know what your rights are under the current legislation you’re probably going to be ok and you’ll know better than to accept a voucher in place of a cash refund…but that doesn’t describe most people.
Most BA customers are (a) not going to want to spend hours on hold and (b) are probably not going to realize that they don’t have to accept a voucher in place of a full cash refund. After all, the button they clicked on promised them an option for a refund but the page it led to just offered a voucher – a lot of people are going to think that the voucher *is* the refund.
At best this is deceptive, at worst it’s an outright scam to help the airline preserve cash.
The Work Around
Update: 24 March 2020 06:30 PST: There are suggestions that BA is locking down the workaround that has been set out below so, if this isn’t working for you, try using this link to a BA refund page – that *may* work for you.
Fortunately for us, there are some technically savvy people who read miles and points blogs and a Head For Points reader (Antonio) has provided us with a workaround which ‘forces’ the British Airways website to offer a refund option where a flight has been canceled by the airline.
Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Open up the British Airways website in Google Chrome
- Log in to the BA account of the lead traveler
- Open up the canceled reservation by using the “manage” tab at the top of the BA homepage and by inputting the booking reference and a passenger’s last name.
- Click on the three dots (one on top of the other) that you’ll find in the top right corner of the Chrome browser window and select “settings” from the dropdown menu.
- A new “settings” page will now have opened (do not close your British Airways page) – click on “privacy & security” in the menu on the left. Depending on your screen size “privacy and security” may automatically be visible or you may need to click on a dropdown menu to make it visible.
- Click on “site settings”
- On the page that’s now on your screen change the JavaScipt option from “allowed” to “blocked” using the slider button on the right.
- Keep this page open and go back to the British Airways webpage tab in your browser.
- Under your canceled flight, click the “cancel & refund flight(s)” button
- A new page opens up asking you if you’re a passenger on the canceled flight – do not do anything here just yet. Move on to the next step.
- Go back to the British Airways webpage tab and, where you’re asked if you’re a passenger on the canceled flight, select “yes” and press return/enter.
- An error page is generated which asks you to enter a valid email address – ignore this error
- Select “yes” again and this time a new section will open up asking you to confirm which passenger you are.
- As soon as you select which passenger you are, a form will open up where you are asked to fill in your email and address and offers up the following terms and conditions:
Requesting a refund will cancel all the flights listed above for all the passengers in the booking.
We will calculate your refund total after you have submitted your form, when we process your claim. The refund amount will be based on our terms and conditions and is final and non-negotiable. Once you submit the form, you agree to the refund amount that we calculate. Under normal circumstances your refund will be processed within 7 working days of form submission, but please be aware that it may take up to two billing cycles before appearing on your credit card statement.
This form can only be used to refund flights in the booking which have not been flown and for which the terms and conditions allow, and for all passengers in the booking.
If you have any car or hotel reservations, or insurance associated with this booking you will need to cancel them separately.
If these items were booked through British Airways please contact us. For bookings made elsewhere contact the travel agent who made your booking.
If these items were booked with Avios and you are an Executive Club member, follow the ‘View my bookings’ link from your account home page. Non Executive Club members should go to Avios.com.
- Fill in all your details, read through the terms and conditions thoroughly (make sure you understand them), accept the terms and conditions (assuming you’re happy to do so) and then click on the “request a refund” button at the bottom of the page.
You should now see a confirmation page that looks similar to this…
…and you should receive an email that looks similar to this:
British Airways should now process the cash refund as per its terms and conditions.
Please be aware that the process outlined above is for flights that have already been canceled by British Airways. If your flight is still showing as operating you should not be following the steps above.
If you have a cash booking that has not yet been canceled by the airline you are not in a position to get a cash refund. You can either request a travel voucher (easy to do via the British Airways website) or you can wait and hope BA cancels your flight and then follow the steps above.
Following the steps above if you have a cash booking that has not been canceled by BA will see you forfeit most of your cash. You have been warned.