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British Airways will start suspending at least 46 routes starting from tomorrow so, in the next few days, a lot of people will be receiving messages that inform them that their flights have been canceled or that they have been rebooked on to other flights. If you receive one of these notifications, please be careful as their contents do not fully inform you of your rights.
The key thing for British Airways passengers to know is this: If the airline cancels one or more flights on your trip, you are entitled to a full refund. This refund should include everything you paid for your flight(s) including (but not limited to) the airfare, any seat selection fees, and baggage fees, and any Avios used as part of the booking. Annoyingly, British Airways doesn’t always make this very obvious.
Earlier this week I got an email notification to let me know that one of MJ’s British Airways flights that makes up part of a London – Los Angeles – London booking has been canceled. When I head over to BA.com to check the booking, this is what I see.
British Airways confirms that it has canceled the second flight in the booking but it then goes on to tell me that I can “choose to change or cancel the booking” and it offers me just two buttons which only give me the option to “request a voucher” or to “change booking”.
I, as the person who paid for MJ’s booking, am entitled to a full refund here but you have to have pretty good eyesight to spot the only mention of a refund on this page – it’s in very small font and at the bottom of the page – and British Airways insists that I call in to “discuss” my options.
I don’t know how you feel about this, but it sure seems like BA isn’t being very obvious about the fact that a refund can be requested in this case. If you find yourself in a similar situation and faced with the same page be aware that you can call and get a full refund.
As it happens, MJ is not the only member of the family who’s having issues with one or more BA flights – I’ve had two flights cancelled but, in my case, BA has offered me alternate flights.
When I check my booking this is what I see:
According to the first statement above the flights that BA is offering me, I can “choose to accept, change or cancel [my] booking”.
That’s not actually true because I can also choose to request a full refund.
The three big buttons under the flights reiterate the options BA has already mentioned, and it’s only in the very small print at the bottom of the page that I can see any suggestion that a refund may also be an option.
For someone who knows the rules and knows their rights (me) this isn’t a big deal because I don’t need to be told that I can request a refund, but what about all the infrequent travelers out there who will be getting the same messages and who will be seeing similar screens to the ones I’ve shown above? They may not be quite so aware of the rules and thanks to the way that British Airways is laying out the options, I can imagine a lot of people not noticing a refund is an option open to them.
Thanks to how BA is presenting a traveler’s options when the airline cancels one or more of their flights, I expect the coming weeks to yield yet more people who have accepted a British Airways voucher for future travel when they could have requested a full refund. Please make sure that you’re not one of them.