BA stops Avios redemptions on some items
In recent articles, we have been talking about how to cash out your Avios if you can’t spend them or are concerned about BA’s liquidity. I personally am not rushing to do anything different with mine apart from book flights.
There are only really a couple of options for BA Avios to be redeemed instantly and in a way that means you are safe should the airline fail. These were wine and experiences. It appears both these options have been removed from the BA website here.
If you click on wine it states
This is quite likely due to the demand for wine as I heard recently that Laithwaites had stopped taking new orders (who supply the wine for BA Avios). Slightly more dodgy is the link that you click on for experiences. This now takes you to the Avios hotel and car page and the experiences seem to have disappeared. Bad IT or BA trying to stem the flow of non-flight redemptions?
Thanks to reader Andy for pointing this out.
BA voucher refund for upgrades
We had a great time on Friday at our virtual readers’ party so we plan to hold another one in a couple of weeks. One of the subjects that came up was obviously refunds. An interesting question was asked about what happens when you get a voucher for a flight that you had upgraded with cash after purchase.
Most extras such as seat assignments, extra luggage etc are not treated as cash on the voucher. They are simply transferred over to the next booking so you get exactly the same extras. However, upgrades are a bit more complex. The voucher in effect is a voucher of what you had booked, which also has a cash value equivalent to the total price you paid (for flight only). With an upgrade purchased after the original ticket was issued, it is slightly complicated. (Honestly, how BA expect people to keep track of all these variances I have no idea). If you use the voucher to rebook the same class of flights on the same route then the upgrade should just carry over. If you book a different route then you may have to pay more for the upgrade to the same class.
EU & US airline cash refunds rules
Airlines across the world have been struggling under the weight of refund requests from customers with cancelled flights as a result of the current crisis. This has led to a number of practices by airlines to try and prevent customers from seeking a cash refund. Instead, airlines want passengers to take a voucher to be used for a future flight. Some airlines have flagrantly ignored the law, whereas others such as BA and Virgin have made it much more difficult (or impossible) to obtain refunds online.
In Europe, the EU261 legislation is pretty clear, if the airline cancelled the flight for any reason, you are entitled to a cash refund. Airlines and travel agents have been calling for a change to the rules, but for now it is clear that they still stand. In an interview with Euro News, the Transport Commissioner said “The legislation for passengers rights is clear. When a passenger doesn’t receive the service that for which he/she paid, they should be reimbursed, and that is clear at the legislation, or they can be offered voucher services, but only if they agree on these voucher services. This is the legislation we have in place,” Adina Valean, Transport Commissioner told Euronews. She also went on to say the EU are looking at how to help airlines maintain liquidity at the same time as protecting passengers’ rights.
US Department of transport
“The Department is receiving an increasing number of complaints and inquiries from ticketed passengers, including many with non-refundable tickets, who describe having been denied refunds for flights that were cancelled or significantly delayed. In many of these cases, the passengers stated that the carrier informed them that they would receive vouchers or credits for future travel. But many airlines are dramatically reducing their travel schedules in the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency. As a result, passengers are left with cancelled or significantly delayed flights and vouchers and credits for future travel that are not readily usable. ”
Airlines are obliged to offer a cash refund promptly when they cancel the passenger’s flight or makes a significant change in the flight schedule and the passenger chooses not to accept the alternative offered by the airline. The DOT says that this still stands even if cancellations are outside the control of the airline. The airlines could have enforcement action taken against them if they did not comply, although the DOT said they would be giving airlines a chance to comply before taking such action.
United has been particularly bad in this area, but I have to say I was extremely impressed with American Airlines. My flight was cancelled and I was unable to cancel online. I got through to an agent almost immediately who fixed my booking so I could fill in the online form for a refund. The refund came through in a few days, unlike my BA refund that I am still waiting for two weeks later
The challenging times for the travel industry have definitely bought out the best and the worst in companies. One company that is generally known for its excellent treatment of loyalty members is Hyatt. Last year Paul switched his hotel loyalty from Hilton and Marriott to Hyatt (which you can read about in this article) exactly for that reason. I am planning to do a similar challenge once I am back travelling again.
This loyalty towards it’s most valued guests has continued through to the current situation and Hyatt have just announced probably the best loyalty extension so far from the hotel schemes with nearly a two-year extension. They have also extended their travel flexibility policy at the same time.
Waiving change and cancellation fees through June 30, 2020
Hyatt have extended their cancellation fee waivers through to 30 June 2020 as follows:
- Existing reservations for upcoming travel through to 30 June 2020: All existing reservations (booked on 1 April or before) for arrivals through June 30, 2020 can be changed or cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival. This includes Advance Purchase Rate reservations.
- New reservations for any future travel: With some very limited exceptions, reservations booked between April 2, 2020 and June 30, 2020 – for any future arrival date – can be changed or cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival. This includes Advance Purchase Rate reservations. The only exceptions are reservations booked after April 1, 2020 at Destination Residences and Special Events Rate reservations booked after April 1, 2020. The cancellation policies for a Special Event Rate will be noted in the rate’s Rate Rules section when booking.
- Reservations can be changed or cancelled up to 24 hours before a scheduled arrival on hyatt.com or via the World of Hyatt app (subject to the exceptions noted above).
These policies apply to reservations made through Hyatt directly. Guests who booked via online travel agents or other third parties are advised to contact their booking provider for information on their policies and for assistance.
Extending World of Hyatt loyalty program benefits
World of Hyatt benefits will be extended in the following ways for all members globally:
- More time to use points: Points will be exempt from expiring until 31 December 2020. Usually points expire if your account is inactive for 24 months.
- More time to use earned awards: All unused Free Night, Suite Upgrade or Club Lounge Access awards with expiration dates between 1 March 2020 and 31 December 2020 will be extended to 31 December 2021. This includes existing awards and awards that may be earned throughout this year with a 2020 expiration date. The award extension will be generated by World of Hyatt – members do not need to take action. Awards that expired between 1 March and 31 March 2020 will be replaced with new awards on 20 April 2020. All other qualifying, unused awards will be updated by the 20th day of the month in which the award would have originally expired.
- More time for elite members to enjoy their status and benefits: Status and benefits will be extended for all existing elite members without having to re-qualify. This means that whatever your status was as of 31 March 2020 – whether Discoverist, Explorist or Globalist – it will be automatically updated to expire on 28 February 2022 expiration date. All elite tier extensions should be reflected in members’ accounts no later than 15 April 2020.
You can read more about whether it is worth joining World of Hyatt and how to earn points without travelling in this article.
British Airways aircraft in storage at Bournemouth
Over the last couple of weeks, we have been posting exclusive images of BA’s aircraft currently parked at Bournemouth airport. The airport themselves have agreed to let a video be filmed with a drone of the airfield with all the latest BA arrivals. It’s a sad but yet fascinating sight.