The Sneaky Way British Airways Is Trying To Keep Your Miles And Surcharges When You Cancel An Award

No airline has done as much to keep customers whose travel has been disrupted from getting refunds as United Airlines has. However they’re not the only bad actor. British Airways intentionally deceived customers about their refund rights.

I’ve been asked by several readers why they aren’t getting points and taxes back on Avios award bookings. British Airways rules allow a refund of taxes and points for a fee, but the British Airways website is hiding the option to do this insisting instead on offering a ‘voucher’.

Here’s the trick you need to know: “if you turn off JavaScript in Google Chrome then will take you to the full cancellation page.”

Go into ‘Manage My Booking’ on and select ‘Cancellation options for this booking’.

You are taken to the ‘consent’ screen:

Do NOT continue the process, as you will only be taken to the ‘Future Travel Voucher’ page which you don’t want. In order to cancel, you need to first disable JavaScript in Chrome. (If you are not using Chrome, you need to find out how your browser handles JavaScript.)

If you want instructions on turning off JavaScript ” target=_blank>read the Head For Points post detailing this workaround.

It’s interesting to know that British Airways has used its cost-savings outsourced-IT to hide the option to refund bookings (and done so rather ineptly).

British Airways will charge the cancellation fee, though as I’ve written before if you want to cancel a booking until close to departure the flight itself may be cancelled by then and you’ll get refunded without a fee.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Isn’t the voucher a better option?

    My understanding is you’d get the Avios and taxes paid towards a future flight with no change fee.

    If you cancel (using the “old” method you outline here) you get the Avios back in your account but lose the taxes paid.

  2. @Daniel – you get the taxes and surcharges refunded too, less the cancellation fee. Given that most Avios tickets attract substantial taxes and charges it’s usually a significant refund.

  3. Plenty of airlines are trying to not allow refunds instead they’re only mentioning vouchers on their websites, even for cancellations made by them.

  4. Air Europa is vouchers only and you have to travel by June 15th or pay a fare difference.

  5. @ Gary — When I tried to refund an AirCanada reservation with a 4-hour schedule change on-line last week, I was only offered a “cancel, waive the penalty, hold for future travel” option. I called, waited on hold 3 hours, spoke to an agent for about all of 3 minutes, and had the money refunded to my AMEX card and back in my bank account in just 4 days. Was it really necessary to make me wait on hold for 3 hours?

  6. Got a question re: this. I have a flight on UA booked using Lifemiles, LHR>DEN. A day after I booked it I noticed on the FT forum a message saying that flight was being discontinued March 18. I haven’t heard from Avianca, nor have I heard from UA. I did attempt to talk to a Lifemiles agent, who told me I would have to pay cancellation fees, even though UA cancelled the flight! Then he told me to call back <72 hours before "departure". When I do, what am I entitled to and what should I be asking for?

  7. When you cancel a BA Avios booking UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES, The Change Fee is US$55 for accounts with USA addresses. But if the taxes on your ticket are less than that, you only forfeit your tax money. I have a one-way ticket from Charleston SC to Aruba for March 25 on AA, which I cannot fly because non-Arubans are barred. My taxes are $15.60, which I would like to get back. I want to see what happens if I disable Javascript, given the very long waits on the phone.

  8. Using this trick, it offers me a cancellatio with the normal $15.60 forfeiture. I guess I’ll just let them give me a $15.60 voucher.

  9. Thanks for the work-around! Is there any work around for a reservation where you hit consent already

  10. I don’t think for a minute BA are trying to be sneaky here.

    It is merely a reflection of their crude IT system where they have simply inserted the temporary page. The fact it can be very easily by-passed seems to affirm this.

  11. The Sneaky Way British Airways Is Trying To Keep Your Miles And Surcharges When You Cancell An Award

    Only one ‘L’ in Cancel

  12. What’s going to happen to people who points will expire to keep there gold card because now all travel is closed down and cannot fly

  13. @Gary: Important question. Award Ticket Refunds: BA state that they will give a voucher good for travel commenced before 2020-12-31. I don’t mind a voucher, but the deadline to start travel is way too soon. It means a diminished value vacation. Any flexibility in this? E.g. end 2021?


  14. I understand that if you had a BA companion ticket (free other than taxes) the expiration date and flight cancelled the ticket is getting extended 6 months. Can someone confirm this

  15. Hi may I ask a question? In the light of the USA adding the UK to its travel restrictions we had to return early so as not to get stuck in the USA. When I tried to change our booking on the BA website it wouldn’t let me saying I had to call them. Tried calling the BA in UK and the USA to no avail. In the end I rebooked a flight and cancelled my original booking for a refund. We were not kept informed of flight cancellations and I believe we would still be in the USA had I not rebooked. Will BA give me a refund?

  16. @Elizabeth Tomlinson – I am confused you cancelled your original booking for a refund, but are asking if you can get a refund?

  17. Waiting for BA refund. How long usual wait?
    This was booked due to Flybe failure so also waiting for both !

  18. Having not having to cancel a flight before I think I should have asked if I should have waited until BA informed me that my flight was cancelled before doing anything with my original booking if that makes sense.

  19. For my own circumstanses, the 12 month voucher is NOT the better option when you can receive back over £500 of the tax fees, the companion ticket and just under 100,000 avios back into your account.

    With what’s going on BA as a company is fairly safe under IAG but who knows how long until we’ll be able to use the travel voucher.

  20. In these difficult times, I feel taking the voucher might aid BA to pick up in the future. If we all share this, the staff might have jobs after.

  21. Has anyone had a flight cancelled by them? Do you still have to go through the same process or does it happen automatically?

  22. My flight from Sydney was delayed due to a passenger incident. I arrived late at my destination and BA Executive desk had gone home for the night. We bought new tickets to get home on another carrier. I asked for a refund as I had a letter from Qantus and everything. I was pushed from and forth from BA to Avios, back to BA, who said Avios needed to refund my points. Long story short, I got NO refund from BA. I stay away from that airline now. This was over a year ago. I tried for a good 8 months to get my business class tickets refunded

  23. BA hiding the Refund option by requiring Java Script tricks is deeply unethetical. I didn’t know about this trick so when I recently cancelled some Qantas domestic Australian Biz tickets, but here the taxes and fees are quite low.

    Also with the BA voucher page to cancel my Qantas code-share flight, I receive no confirmation mail, hence cannot prove I submitted the voucher request.. I have take screenshots of my page before hitting Submit. After that the page shown has no indication of what you just did.

    Also for Qantas I was given an option on their Web page to get a voucher but didn’t dare to try that since I feared getting a Qantas voucher, which probably would be useless if it was Qantas only so I cancelled on the BA page.

    When I cancelled the return segment of a Qatar long haul flight, the cancel page gives you a clear choice between the refund and voucher, and they sent a mail receipt confirming the request. Now that is consumer friendly.

  24. They have now removed the link option for cancellation options for this booking so this no longer works! What do we do? My flights are cancelled. I have paid £2500 and cannot use vouchers (which will only last 9 months anyway at the most). They hang up on you if you use ANY phone number…..What the heck do i do next?

  25. @Emily Bladon-Wing: BA ” Your voucher will be valid for travel within 12 months from your original departure date.”

    What do you do? Use the coupon and resolve to never fly with BA again. Certainly scale back your use of the airline as many of us have done.

    P.S. Apropos name there!

  26. Will this work if I booked thru skybooker? I was told several weeks ago that I could cancel and get only a portion of a refund, and if the airline cancelled that i would receive ticket refund. I also paid for insurance and they said when I called them that I booked before their cutoff of forseen situations of Covid-19. So I waited and one of the tickets ( both to Milan Italy but returning different dates) has all legs cancelled, and they other one has one leg remaining. I am not sure how to move forward at this point. Suggestions for a refund and not a voucher?

  27. I can confirm this does work. I was also stuck in the voucher loop after BA cancelled my flight.

    As someone above noted, the “cancellations options” link was greyed out and not functioning. I had to view the page source to see the link and manually copy and paste it. In chrome, I right clicked the link and chose “inspect” or you can go to the menu bar and select “View>Developer>Inspect Elements”

    That got me to the consent screen. I followed the instructions above about the javascript and got a full refund.

    I am absolutely disgusted by this behavior.

  28. Hello

    Could someone help me as I am a complete computer idiot. Where is the link to manually copy? They are still hanging up on me!!

  29. After my above posts of March 19, I phoned BA on March 20 to cancel my March 25 flight to Aruba. The first question he asked me was ‘Are you scheduled to fly within 3 days?’ When I said ‘NO, 5 days,’ he told me to call back on March 22, which I did. That rep tried to rebook me for Feb. 2021, but he could not get the computer to take it, despite that showed appropriate availability. He said that my voucher would be for the 24K miles + US$15.60 taxes, so I asked him to cancel. He re-deposited my miles but told me he could not refund my taxes, just as the non-Javascript Webpage said.
    Given that I am inadmissible to Aruba due to their govt.’s COVID-19 order, I intend to call Chase to 1. Dispute the charge; &or 2. Claim under Sapphire Preferred automatic Travel Insurance; 3. Ask on FlyerTalk for a BA Lurker to help me.

  30. Good news! I was able to reach British Airways today and was able to re-deposit Avios that I had previously elected a voucher for. The points are back in my account. I lost the $11.20 for domestic taxes but otherwise I am whole!

  31. This workaround does not seem to work if the flight has already been cancelled by BA. I am due to fly to BA on May 10th, both the outbound and return flights have been cancelled. As I am gold status, I should be able to cancel this for free and yet I am directed only to the voucher page. I’d rather have my points all back in one place and able to use them. I also had a part cash, part Avios booking to Australia for tomorrow and all I can find is that I will receive a voucher for the ‘full amount of the fare’ but no points back, I’ll be interested to see what they value my 110,000 avios as. Trying to speak to somebody there is almost impossible and I don’t want to take a place in the queue from somebody trying to repatriate to be honest. They are not making it easy for us loyal flyers.

  32. @littlecharliep: had similar issues now and in the past. Long-term solution: Reciprocate the lack of loyalty they showed.

  33. Now my flights don’t even show up when I put in the PNR nor does the insurance policy number on their site. I hope I am not out 2k. I did talk to the credit card company yesterday after noticing they do not show on British Airway site any more.

  34. BA – smh.
    Even worse when you booked a holiday with them not just the flights – was meant to go to a Wedding clearly not happening now. I didn’t mind the voucher option but they are trying to only credit the voucher for flights, but they are trying to hold onto the money for the hotel because “you booked an unchangeable hotel…claim from your travel insurance.” Really, you want to try and play T’s & C’s right now? Regardless of how I end up getting my money back, not booking holidays through them again!

  35. Update for L3 (& everybody else: )
    I checked the status of my AA flights on March 25. CHS–MIA operated normally, but MIA–AUA was cancelled, and also on March 26. So I phoned BA again on March 26. After a 13-minute wait on hold, I got a rep who looked up my ressie. I told her my flight had been cancelled by AA, so she put me on hold to ask her supervisor to teach her how to refund my $15.60 taxes. She came back on the phone to tell me she had done so.
    Sorry, I did not get her name. But Lori T should check to see if her flights were cancelled, then phone back as I did. It’s something to do now that we all have time on our hands!

  36. I just had an excellent experience with British airways cancelling 3 flights. These flights had been cancelled, or a segment cancelled by BA. We were due to fly this week. I spoke to Sean at the south newcastle office. My hold time was under 1 minute and total time was 15 minutes. There was no question about refunding my avios and other charges. Sean was efficient and polite and his calculation matched mine on 2 complex bookings that. I called 877 767 7970 just as their office opened 1a.m. EST. So some good news. As I type this I just got an email confirming one of the cancellations.

  37. not sure if this belongs to this thread: I booked a return flight from Berlin to Jo’burg in Oct. 2020.
    now BA offers a voucher for flights departing until Dec 31st 2020. But only when the flight was booked between March 3rd and May 31st. I booked my flight in February. Looks I’m not eligible for a voucher.
    Anyone here in the same boat ? What can I do ?

  38. Disabling javascript no longer works. Now waiting on the phone for somebody to answer the phone.

  39. I haven’t received my $15.60 refund from my March 25 ticket which was promised to me when I phoned on March 26. So I phoned again today & waited 40 minutes on hold. I finally got a rep who said that refunds were taking up to 21 days to process due to short staff. At my request, he checked my ressie to make sure that the rep of March 26 had coded it properly for a refund. She did!

  40. An FYI for others here. I had fallen for the voucher scam and today called to change it for the Avios miles and tax refund that the agent claimed it was worth.

    After a 27 minute wait and dealing with an agent who would not let me finish a sentence I determined that BA is refusing to convert vouchers to Avios + tax refunds. I am going to follow up on European remedies.

    Any other participants here with BA experiences, please share them.

  41. On 24 and 27 Feb we booked 2x LHR-VIE for 30 March; they cancelled them on 24 Mar and I clicked through the ‘disable java’ routine. They refunded taxes of $27.50 x2 on 10 Apr and as of today (16 Apr) have redeposited Avios for only one ticket at 7500 Avios. Still waiting on 7500 Avios for the second ticket.

  42. I cant get through on the phone- it’s an automatic voice call which just ends the call – despite repeated calling
    Booked BA to Vancouver from Edinburgh and emailed them re refund for my cancelled flights to and from Vancouver in April and May
    No reply and as you say the only offer is a voucher on the page

  43. @A Pollock: A word from the stung. If you accept that voucher they will deny they have an obligation to convert it to cash/Avios.

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