NEWS: Desperate times call for desperate measures – airlines make it difficult to get a refund, BA pilots pay cut – what about Mr Cruz?

pilots BA

Some links on Turning Left for Less pay us an affiliate commission to support this blog

Desperate times call for desperate measures – airlines make it difficult to get a refund

British Airways

Yesterday we spoke about how to workaround BA’s lack of options to cancel a booking. If you have a fully refundable ticket or an Avios booking where you can cancel for £35, you can no longer cancel online. Previously, this was very simple to do via Manage my booking. Now if you try to do that, you are directed to the voucher form. This will only give you a voucher to spend on the BA website. If you don’t need the money now, obviously it helps BA to keep cash in the business, although not the government have guaranteed wages at 80% I am glad the employees have some protection. However, if you want to cancel and get your Avios or money back you will need to use this process. Note: if you have already flown part of the itinerary you will need to call BA.

Understandably, BA are even refusing to speak to some people if their trip is not within 72 hours. This is to try and help people that may be stranded abroad. If you have a booking and the outbound was operating and you took a voucher – there may be hope of a refund. If your inbound gets cancelled you may be able to get a refund. BA will not necessarily notify you that it has been cancelled and it may not show in Manage my Booking either. I recommend monitoring the Flight Status page instead. Some cancellations are last minute and you have up until check-in closes to apply for a voucher, so its worth keeping your nerve until at least the night before if not later if you can guarantee not to forget!


Virgin Atlantic

Virgin have now started to pull the same tactics. If you are not flying within 72 hours they will not speak to you, even if your flight has been cancelled. If you are within 72 hours you can now use What’s app or text as well as phone. The contact details are here. 

If you wanted to cancel your miles booking online you are out of luck. The only option available when you go into the booking is Make a change.

When you click on it, the link takes you to a generic page which options on how to change your booking.

You should be able to cancel the booking up to 24 hours prior to departure for a full refund minus a £30 fee. 

I understand these are hard times for airlines, but for many people losing their jobs or taking unpaid leave, they need the money back now, not in a couple of weeks! Airlines are trying to keep your cash in their system which is fair enough. However, making it impossible for people to cancel online or by phone until 72 hours before is unethical in my opinion. 

Have you had another airline pull the same tactics and make it impossible to get a refund until 72 hours before? Let us know in the comments below or on social media. 


British Airways give pilots 50% wage cut but bosses don’t lead by example

BA are still figuring out what their staffing looks like, and hopefully, with the government announcements on Friday evening, it looks brighter for their employees. The BA pilots have already been told what their changes will be. British Airways pilots will have to take two weeks of unpaid leave in both April and May. They will also get a 50% deduction from basic pay over three months. It has not been announced what other staff face although some new recruits have already been let go. 

So you would expect senior executives such as Mr Cruz, the CEO to follow by example and also take a pay cut? So far Alex Cruz has not taken a pay cut, although Willie Walsh has announced a 20% cut even though he was due to leave his position as IAG CEO shortly.

I have always stuck for Alex as when I have chatting to him and seen him speaking he made a lot of sense. So far in the crisis, he has not impressed me. Having seen his letter to staff warning of job cuts, it is extremely blunt. Everyone knows the situation is serious, but there are ways to break the bad news. Many BA team members are working very long hours trying to sort out people’s refunds and getting people home. BA should be grateful to these employees for their tireless work whilst knowing that there are likely to be job cuts or unpaid leave on the horizon. Hopefully, Alex will announce something soon. 


28 Comments on "NEWS: Desperate times call for desperate measures – airlines make it difficult to get a refund, BA pilots pay cut – what about Mr Cruz?"

  1. I have flights booked on Qatar Airways to Doha, I asked for a refund due to the fact the you can not longer travel to Qatar and was told I have to take a voucher.
    QR then cancelled one of the flights, legally now I am entitled to a refund but they will not give it to me. I am not working at the moment due the crisis and will not be able to travel within the next 12 moths when I do go back to work so the voucher will mean I lose my money.
    How are they able to get away with this? I agree with cancelling any right to EU compensation if an airline cancels a flight but when they behave like this, it makes me feel it is very one sided.

    I have a friend who was on a BA flight from Doha to London last week and he cancelled, he had purchased a WTP ticket and used miles to upgrade to CW. He decided not to travel given the crisis and asked for a free date change or if he had to cancel a gesture of good will from BA and return of the miles used to upgrade the booking and BA simply said no.

    • Legally they still have to refund you if the flight was cancelled no matter what the cause. There are two ways to get your money back. Do a charge back if you paid by credit card or your travel insurance may cover it. Hope you get it sorted.

  2. Cruz is simply a puppet manipulated by Walsh. Can you not see the blunt indifference of “the bottom line” attitude of “only profit matters” that is Walsh all over (sod the customers), in the letter sent by Cruz? Cruz is ineffectual cannon fodder, paid well by IAG (Walsh’s security blanket) to do the dirty work, in a poorly veiled disguise, for Walsh. The sooner they both go the better it will be for BA. IAG was Walsh’s idea for self preservation and personal wealth generation. It wont survive without his “couldn’t care less attitude”, so I see the new Spaniard replacement as another nonentity and wonder how long it will be until IAG is dissolved and the “wealthy” airlines within it survive or dissolve.

  3. Re-refund- due to fly with United to New Orleans from Dublin on Monday, returning to Manchester. Impossible to speak to them on the phone, left hanging on in the queue for an hour or more only to have call disconnected at their end. No contact email address of any use. No response on Twitter. Responded to a direct message on Messenger – told me to go to website. Completely ignored my comments about EU directive 261/2004 (they’ve already cancelled the inbound flight). Will be starting to claim back from credit card company later today. Multiple comments in the same vein on there social media.

  4. Louise Halsey | 21 March 2020 at 7:15 am | Reply

    How to get avios points back from a hotel booking?

  5. This is not the first time that Virgin has refused to speak to customers. I was unfortunate enough to be booked on a flight with them when the volcano in Iceland erupted. There was no-one at Gatwick to help, no telephone number, just a piece of paper on the desk saying all flights were cancelled. This was my second bad experience with Virgin and I have never used them again, there is always another airline. Their customer service is shocking & I am afraid BA are going the same way. Last time I flew with BA, the crew were scruffy and rude.

  6. I have car hire booked in the USA through BA to the value of £1000 plus trying to find in terms and conditions if I can cancel due to there being no flights and get a refund, does anyone know ?

    • More than 48hrs before travel: 20% of total booking value
      Less than 48hrs before travel: 100% of total booking value.

      Otherwise, your only other option is insurance.

  7. Further to my post earlier this week about refunds for my upcoming flights, I called BA, was on hold for only 18 minutes then the call was answered. The gold line directed me to the standard phone number – no problem given the circumstances and the hold time, well it’s wasn’t too bad at all to be honest!

    There was initial hesitation to refund me as the flight was in 5 days and they INSISTED on a voucher even though they’ve cancelled both legs. I insisted I speak to someone who was “authorised”’ to process legally entitled refunds, and low and behold the call handler said she’d do it then and there no problem – she also refunded the avois points instantly that I’d used as part payment too – they appeared on my account then and there.

    At the time of writing, the cash refund isn’t back on my Amex but that’s normally up to 5 days so I’ll wait.

    The point of this is, BA have been pushing the boundaries as to what’s acceptable for a very long time in all classes of travel, notably thanks to Cruz and Walsh – they’re happy to be the only airline to charge premium customers to select a seat for example if you don’t qualify – yet when these customers need a refund (just because you’re flying premium doesn’t mean you’re dripping in cash) they are behaving in a borderline illegal way and enough is enough. Please don’t tell me turning on “JavaScript” in a browser, then off again then on again is a customer friendly way of processing a refund yourself. It’s disgraceful. And they’ve been caught.

    This could have been a time to recover some of their destroyed brand image but instead they’ve carried on doing the opposite – I’m sorry Michelle, you write an incredible blog and I thoroughly enjoy your words but I’m struggling to see, even after just a brief sweep of online forums and twitter about BA, how anyone could feel even partially sorry for the monster they’ve created and then multiplied more over the last few days (I’m of course referring to the brand and not it’s people who could possibly loose their livelihoods here)

    This isn’t just about survival over the next how ever months – it’s about creating a positive experience so people come back in the future when/if this calms down and continue to use the brand, and I’m afraid Cruz and Walsh are single handily responsible for everything but Corona Virus itself.

    • I don’t condone what they are doing but I can see why – they are fighting to preserve cash like every business. Interesting I am not hearing similar stories on the hotel side. Apart from Sheraton Berlin which was the most unhelpful and rude hotel to a number of people that had to cancel and got nothing.

  8. Hello, I have flights booked with Tap airlines for the 26th March ex LHR to Lisbon, with a returning the 30th March.
    I have tried phoning TAP and have been unable to get through to anybody. I have tweeted TAP but have had reply as yet.
    They are offering either a change of dates or a voucher, but I can’t travel later this year so a voucher is of no use to me. If I cancel my flights where does that leave me, or should I play the waiting game and see if the flight is cancelled.
    Your assistance and knowledge would be very much appreciated as I’m getting nowhere with TAP.
    Many thanks.
    Mark Phillips

    • If the flights still operate you are not entitled to a refund sadly. I would wait until closer to the time and see if they cancel. If they don’t you could try your travel insurance, if not you will have to take one of the options they offer.

  9. Hilton emailed me and offered me the choice to cancel my three bookings with them one in Athens and two here. The one for Heathrow for one night was supposed to be non-refundable but they pointed out they would refund it and did.

    One of my flights with BA for 5th April, has been cancelled and they have just put me on a different flight instead. I have not yet heard about the flight back on the 8th April! Athens is in complete shutdown and you have to isolate for 14days if you go hotels are shut and travel restrictions apply so why not just get the goodwill of customers and refund as a matter of decency and goodwill?

    I do not want to take vouchers to use in the next year as I would want to travel as soon as I could but who knows when they might be!

  10. Hi Michele, I have tried using the workaround and when I get to the page when it asks for the Credit/Debit card I made the original booking it says it doesn’t recognise the card!! I only ever use a BA Amex card for all my bookings. Anyone else had that problem?

  11. Qatar are blanket refusing refunds for cancelled flights despite their CoC and EU261. They are stating they’ll only provide a voucher. Unfortunately I expect I’ll have to pass it over to my insurer to deal with (booked through Flight Centre so no S75 protection from my credit card).

  12. Could the difference between hotels and airlines be that the large hotel companies are nowadays to a large extent just franchise systems? They probably have very few mortgage payments to make or staff to pay.

    • Yes I believe they are much better placed to weather the storm and will probably recover quicker than airlines with domestic travel picking up first.

  13. “If you don’t need the money now, obviously it helps BA to keep the money.”

    What a load of bull!

    Instead of writing to seek the airline’s grace, you may want to write seeking consumer benefit and highlighting consumer rights.

    • I think you will find that every single article I have written recently has been about how to get your money back or help people deal with the situation. Some people are happy to have a voucher or move their trip. It’s an individual choice. I am merely pointing out that most travel companies will struggle to survive this so if you are likely to rebook something then you may be happy to take a voucher. This isn’t just about companies but all their employees too.

  14. …not sure if everyone is aware 2 IAG directors bought huge quantities of shares when the IAG share price crashed last week…I find this very unethical considering this is on the back of people suffering from the virus n possibility of others losing their jobs within the IAG group!

  15. Hi Michelle
    We are due to fly on 25th ex EU, via Stockholm, however obviously can’t get to Stockholm now from London. Been trying to get a refund from Qatar since beginning of March!
    They have also changed all my flights, so I depart 12 hours earlier, then there is a 24 hour layover and I don’t arrive at hkg till a day later than my original ticket.
    Line doesn’t work, emails no replies, cancel button no longer works…..what do you think the best way to do this would be? Travel insurance or charge back through credit card company? Booked direct with Qatar.
    Would prefer full cash refund on my card as I have a toddler and rather have the option to choose when I travel than be tied down with a voucher given the current state of affairs.
    Thank you

    • So legally if the flights still operate then they don’t have to refund you. The time change would normally allow you to get a refund though. Some airlines have been changing their definition of a significant time change to get round this. Your best option is travel insurance as it was government restrictions that stopped you getting to Stockholm. Chargeback is a little difficult as technically they are still providing the flights but with the time changes it could get a result but not very clear cut.

  16. Easyjet cancelled my flight from LGW-BFS on the 19th March and I was due to fly on 23rd, but when I log on to the app or website it will only let me choose an alternative, no sign of a refund option anywhere. It’s well within 72h yet they’re not getting back to me on twitter, email, i’ve had their online chat open for about 7h total and it keeps cutting me off, they don’t answer the phone to anyone at any time it just hangs up and the flight was £91 so S75 doesn’t apply. I’ve had to ask my credit card provider to pursue chargeback, but it can take 6-8 weeks. My mum and friend were both able to log in and simply request a refund.

    • Yes since the crisis has grown airlines have switched tactics to try and make it as difficult as possible to get a refund. They are using the excuse of needing to help customers stranded abroad. Given the restrictions that came in last week I’m
      Pretty sure there won’t be many people left abroad soon. At the point the government should be stepping in to force them to act properly.

  17. Whether a change of time to your flight is significant enough for you to claim a refund is defined in EC261 regulation. That’s the bottom line. Airlines could have better or worse conditions in their own selling terms – but whatever they have, if it’s a significant change as defined in EU261/ EC261 you can take the options offered at the EU legislation level regardless. For most changes happening right now that will give you the right to a full refund no matter if an airline tries to claim their moving of your flight is now not be a significant enough amount.

Have your say

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.