BREAKING: BA status allowances, ESTA issues, , Qatar’s refund policy and FCO advises against overseas travel

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BA status allowancesBA Executive club avios

There is still no blanket BA policy for status extensions unlike many other airlines such as Virgin Atlantic (read here). From Flyertalk, we do now know what their policy has been for recent requests.

If your membership year ended on 8 February or 8 March who had flights cancelled, BA policy is to change the qualification thresholds to the following:

  • If you are currently Blue with over 220 Tier Points you get bronze
  • If you are Bronze with over 520 Tier Points you get silver
  • If you are currently silver over Tier Points 1280 you get gold

I would expect BA to make some more formal agreements in due course. 

Has BA given you a status qualification exemption? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.


ESTA issues

On Flyertalk and amongst contacts, I have heard of people that were due to fly in the last day or so and had cancelled their flight through British Airways. They received a rather unsettling email from the US Customs and Borders saying that due to the proclamation banning non US citizens who have been in Europe in the last 14 days “Any traveler with a valid ESTA who is subject to the Proclamation and who attempts to travel the United States in violation of the Proclamation will have their ESTA canceled.”

This will no doubt be due to the backlog of cancellations in BA’s systems, and them sending travellers data to the US as they are required to do so. An ESTA being cancelled is unlikely to stop you getting one in the future, but given the reasons for the cancellation, I would err on the side of caution. If this happens to you, I would contact the CBP and explain the situation. If it was a fairly new ESTA you could try to get it reinstated or a refund. You will probably need to provide proof that the flight was cancelled or you cancelled your booking. 


FCO advises against overseas travel

Today the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all non-essential international travel, initially for a period of 30 days. This advice takes effect immediately.

They are doing this, quite wisely, due to the rapidly changing policies by countries for entry and quarantine requirements. This is leading many people to be stranded abroad in a lockdown situation with no notice.

As I said yesterday, it is worth checking with your insurance about whether they will cover you for any losses as a result of this.


Qatar’s cancellation policy

Qatar A380 business class review - Doha to London night flight A380 exterior in flight

Qatar A380

Qatar has finally made its flexibility better for bookings better. Given that they have not cancelled as many flights as other airlines this is a welcome relief. It also has one of the longest travel periods which is good news.

If you have already booked or are planning to book for travel up to 30 June 2020, up to 3 days prior to departure by having the option to change your travel date free of charge, or exchange for a future travel voucher. This voucher will be valid for one year from its issuance date. This is different to BA where it is from the original date of travel. It also includes award flights. If you change your dates you will have to pay any difference in fare so you may decide to get a voucher and hope a good fare comes back soon.

The refund request page is here.

As usual, the advice is to leave it to near the time if you can, in case they do cancel the flight. Cash is always better although I believe that all the major Middle Eastern airlines will continue to operate due to their government support and extensive connecting traffic networks. Qatar are still operating flights to many destinations, so there is less chance they will cancel than other airlines. To make sure you don’t miss the 3 day cut off, set an alert on your phone to check at D-4. You can check the live status of flights on this page up to 5 days ahead. 

You can find the official page here with full details. 



21 Comments on "BREAKING: BA status allowances, ESTA issues, , Qatar’s refund policy and FCO advises against overseas travel"

  1. My daughter a British passport holder is flying from Mexico City to London on Thursday she has been in South America for 6 weeks arriving in Buenos Aires on February 1 going onto Brazil, Chile & Peru, on Saturday she was advised to leave Peru & went onto Mexico, she now wants to fly home but all flights have connections through USA although she has an ESTA she is worried she’ll be refused entry & put back onto the plane to Mexico. Can anyone provide an answer or give me a number I can phone to find out PLEEEASE

    • She should be fine as it’s not down to nationality but geography. On that route you can check restrictions on the links I gave. The airline should be able to advise if you are concerned. If you can’t get through, she could always go to the airport.

  2. All Uk telephone lines for QR seemed to be disconnected when I called and no response to DM either. Completed the online voucher form but no automated email response yet. Very frustrating and concerning.

    • Qatar’s handling when things go wrong is often not great. I would not be worried about not getting your money back. I suspect they are just overloaded.

  3. QR are certainly playing with schedules too! Booked ex EU (ARN) mid May to Australia and what was a swift connection all the way through is now leaving ARN a full day later with a 20+ hour stop in Doha in each direction and arrive two days late on return which really does not link to well with booked BA flights back to LHR. Would this class it enough of a change for a full cash refund?

    • Normally I would say yes but given the current travel restrictions it is less black and white. I would just ask and see what they say.

  4. Why oh why cant BA have on line forms for hotels and flight cancellations???

    • Nothing should be regarded as typical in these extraordinary times…

    • ClaytonTheCruton | 18 March 2020 at 9:21 am | Reply

      Nigel if you have a Hotel & flight booking, ie a BA Holidays booking then also remember that you will be covered by ABTA and, depending on specific policy terms, by your insurer as well so you can fall back on these options. If it’s not a package from BA then you’d look to your insurer.

      IMPORTANT: Do not accept “we don’t cover epidemics ( etal)” as an excuse from your insurer( something there are reports of some insurers trying to escape payment via). Make your claim under “FCO GUIDANCE AGAINST TRAVEL” <<< as your stated reason for making a claim. If your insurer still tries to shirk then ask them to provide in writing the detailed reason for rejecting a claim and to include why they are rejecting your claim to “FCO Guidance” and let them know you are happy to refer the matter to arbitration and/ or the regulator. Insurer’s are required to provide, upon request, a written explanation of refusal and whilst data points are sporadic at present the threat of involving a higher power often makes companies of any ilk reassess their approach. <<<

      If they are booked separately then there is a form online for flights ( search TLFL as Michele posted the link in a story the other day).

      If it makes you feel slightly better I have just over £11k worth of BA Holidays booked this year( the 1st on 03.06!) and it’s looking like very few of them will go ahead and i’m just letting the initial chaos die down a little before I start stressing. I know it’s a stressful time for all but BA, like everyone else in the industry, is totally swamped right now and it’s going to take some time to get a response. Also if you do speak to anyone on the phone please remember that person is probably living with the fear that everyday they come to work might well be the last ( not that you’d be anything other than charming I am sure)

  5. Qatar are really playing with schedules too! Booked ex EU (ARN) mid May to Australia and what was a swift connection all the way through but is now departing a day and a half later with a 20+ hour stop in Doha in each direction and arrive two days late on return which really does not link to well with booked BA flights back to LHR. Would this level of change entitle me a full cash refund?

  6. Currently on 485 tier points with BA. Have had a flight to Catania (160 points) cancelled which would have taken me over 600. My end of year is just after that flight was due to return. So I will be extremely annoyed if BA use 520 tier points as their cut off rather than extending the tier point year as Virgin have done.

  7. Hilton are leading the way with relaxing their refund policies – I’ve just cancelled three hotels that id booked during their January sale with no cancellation clauses that they’ve lifted and refunded me fully – this really is great. BA, on the other hand, continue to play silly bu**ers, particularly as my first flight is club world LHR TO AMS next weekend – FCO advised all but essential travel to stop, BA still claiming the flight is running, hence only a voucher available – I’ll wait right up to the wire to see what they do. Currently exploring with AMEX what the situation is from their perspective. Got three long haul flights, club world, over next couple of months and to be frank, I want the cash not a voucher.

    • I am in the same situation with a couple of my US trips. It is early days since the announcement so there may well be more cancellations. Whilst I would rather have cash too, in some ways I have sympathy for BA too as they desperately need to keep every bit of cash to survive. Travel insurance is worth pursuing as an alternative option if you are covered.

  8. I’m on 580 TP ending in 8th April, was planning to go on a short trip but now of course I’m not booking anything! Sadly their blanket policy is not that helpful in my case.

  9. Hi – any advice on Qatar Airways in the current environment in terms of a refund (not voucher)? Our flights Auckland to Oslo (business class) on 25 March cancelled by Qatar. ‘Offered’ a new date of 27 March (but heard on the grapevine that Qatar are stopping flying to/from Auckland/New Zealand from 25 March…..??!! We can pay an extra $4k each to re-route to LHR if we move flights to tomorrow (additional issue is that we can no longer fly to Oslo due to border closures)?! We have requested a cash refund but so far they are refusing. Thoughts? Shall we keep pushing for a refund? What are our chances? We have previously loved flying Qatar ex-EU business class (and our flights to NZ were wonderful), but when things go wrong, Qatar are really disappointing…..please kindly advise!

  10. Currently on 1440 tier points with BA and have had to push out / cancel 6 flights that would have given me 480 tier points before the reset date of 8th April. fully support BA during these times but their updates and customer support have been really poor.. I would be Disappointed if BA cut off rather than extending the tier point run for this year..

    • I believe that their criteria guidelines for renewal will shift as time goes on which makes sense. If you were due to renew in February you should have had almost enough despite a cancelled flight. In April most people are likely to have been affected by several cancellations so I think they will either lower the points needed again or come up with a blanket offer. It makes sense commercially to do it individually.

  11. My flight in 10 days time is now showing as cancelled. Do I need to phone up or will my Avios points, cash and Lloyds upgrade voucher automatically be refunded?

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