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Update 13 April 2020: It may still be possible to use the original workaround on a smartphone to request a refund from British Airways online (click for more details)
Update 13 April 2020: A second refund appeared in my credit card account over the weekend.
British Airways has been one of the many airlines that have been trying their very best not to offer customers refunds (or making refund requests as difficult as possible) when their flights have been cancelled, and this is despite the fact that the European Commission and the US Department of Transport both recently restated that refunds have to be offered.
Up until a few weeks ago, British Airways was allowing customers to request refunds online but, as the seriousness of the current crisis became more apparent, that option was removed and a lot of customers were left with the impression that their only option was a voucher for future travel. A shady move by the airline.
A clever workaround was discovered by a reader of the Head For Points blog (which I outlined in detail here), and a URL was found which lead directly to a refund request form on the British Airways website…but BA was soon on to these.
The URL that once led to a refund request page now only leads to a page where flyers can request a voucher and the workaround doesn’t appear to be working for the vast majority of people who have tried it of late…so what’s left.
It’s important to remember that British Airways isn’t refusing genuine refund requests – it’s just making it harder to request them – so contacting the airline directly is still the best way to go.
Calling British Airways
I requested a refund of two British Airways award bookings on 17 & 18 March (by using the workaround that’s no longer available) but by last Sunday (5 April) I still hadn’t received any Avios back into my account and I still hadn’t seen the taxes and surcharges refunded to my credit card…so I called British Airways.
I called the Gold Line number (0800 123 111) and each time I was asked to choose an option I chose the option that most closely correlated with “other issue” and, a little surprisingly, I was put through to an agent after a hold time of just 12 minutes (I’ve been on hold to the airline for much longer when the world wasn’t under lock-down!)
The agent was polite, patient and helpful, and was able to see that refunds had been requested and that nothing had yet been refunded. Within minutes she had redeposited the Avios from both my cancelled flights into my account but she didn’t have the power to refund the taxes and fees.
Per the agent:
- It is taking British airways up to 21 days for cash/tax/surcharge refunds to process
- Refund requests that are made online can sometimes get caught in a loop and delayed
The agent said that she was resending details of my refund requests to the relevant department and to expect the refund within 21 days of that conversation.
On 6 April 2020, 2 days after my phone call with British Airways and 19 days after I made my second refund request, the taxes and fees associated with my second cancelled flight appeared in my Chase Sapphire Reserve account. On 11 April 2020 the monies due from my first refund request appeared in my Chase Sapphire Reserve account (22 days after the request was made).
I’ve read (and been sent) other reports of people who have had success in calling British Airways and getting their flights refunded so this is definitely a route that works…but you should be prepared for long hold times (I suspect my experience is an outlier) – I suggest trying to call at times of the day when the call centers will be dealing with the least traffic (i.e not the middle of the day).
Be aware that British Airways has reduced its contact center opening hours to 08:00 – 20:00 Monday to Friday and 09:00 – 17:00 Saturday and Sunday GMT and the standard phone number to call is 0800 727 800.
Emailing British Airways
I have to confess that I assumed that British Airways would be overwhelmed with emails dealing with just about every aspect of the current crisis (not just refunds), so I never considered it as a viable route to getting my Avios and cash back from the airline…but apparently emails can work.
A TFM reader (Matt) has reported the following timeline:
24th March: Emailed requesting a refund.
28th March: Got a reply confirming the refund had been processed and our remaining flights cancelled.
7th April: The refund appeared on our ccard today.
Matt doesn’t say which email address he used but this link to a British Airways online email form may be of help.
It looks like British Airways has shut down the website workaround and the URL linking to its refund request form so, if you need to request a refund, a phone call or an email appear to be the last two remaining options.
Most people are being told that that they have to call the UK call center if they wish to request a refund so make sure you use an app like Skype to call the airline’s 0800 number (from wherever you are in the world) to make sure you don’t get charged for the call.
If anyone has a story of how they managed to get a refund from British Airways (or a story of how they’re still struggling to get a refund) please share in the comments below so we can all learn what works and what doesn’t – Thanks!