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Why won’t BA refund my flights despite travel being illegal at the time?

Why won’t British Airways refund my flights despite travelling abroad being illegal at the time due to Covid rules?

  •  In April last year Government Covid-19 rules banned international travel
  • Travellers without a valid reason under the  exemptions could be fined £5,000
  • British Airways flight ran as scheduled but our reader couldn’t go abroad 

My wife and I booked a holiday to Palma Mallorca for mid-April 2021 flying with British Airways out of London City Airport. 

However, at the time of the trip the Government regulations prevented us from going abroad as it was just a holiday and fell outside of the exemptions allowing travel. So we didn’t go.

When I got in touch with British Airways to claim a refund they said that as the flights I booked had run on schedule – one of the few still taking off – I am not entitled to a full refund, only a voucher.

I tried again to get a refund in May this year, once I heard of other customers being more successful but I was again denied because the flight operated.

The value of the voucher is £594.98 and as my wife and I are both pensioners that sum would be incredibly useful to us at this time J.D

Government rules banned international travel in April last year but one reader’s flight still took off so British Airways wouldn’t give him a refund.

Fran Ivens, of This is Money, replies: I am sorry to hear about your holiday. There will be many others like you who were left disappointed when trips abroad had to be cancelled due to the government’s Covid-19 restrictions in place that year.

At the time of your trip, Government regulation was that you must not go on holiday abroad and doing so could result in a £5,000 fine. 

There were exceptions to the rule, such as travelling to reunite families, which was in part why British Airways was still running the flights – to accommodate those who were allowed to travel.

However, I agree it seems unfair that you were only issues with a voucher rather than a full refund owing to circumstances outside of your control.

I went to British Airways and asked them to explain their policies around Covid-era refunds and whether they could look into your case.

I am thrilled to say that the company has confirmed it will refund you in cash for the full amount of the voucher.

It also said that because you paid for the tickets part in cash and part with Avios points, those points will also be restored to your account.

But it turns out that using your points and cash may have been the reason why you were issued a voucher.

British Airways has been refunding customers who hold vouchers with more complex bookings, such as those where Avios was used as payment. 

They are also reaching out to customers with British Airways Holidays vouchers that remain unused two years after they were issued, and those who are unable to use their vouchers online.

It sounds as though you somehow fell through the system and so were not contacted by the airline to let you know you were entitled to a full refund as your booking.

In a statement the airline confirmed to me that they have been in contact with you to resolve the matter and a refund is on the way.

It is a useful reminder to all of us to follow up with companies and double check we’re not missing out on what we are owed. 

No doubt systems were under strain during Covid and it makes sense that some customers were missed, so it’s always worth following up.