NEWS: Get BA refunds in Avios, Virgin delays flights restarting & France’s tit for tat quarantine – is it just the start?

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Get refunds from British Airways in Avios

Whilst it is not yet in writing on the BA website as an option, you can now take a refund as Avios instead of cash. Willie Walsh told the Transport Select Committee that BA has refunded the price of 921,000 tickets since the crisis began, although 47,000 passengers are still waiting for their cash back. However, BA insiders believe the actual figure to be much greater than that.

Like most airlines, BA are desperate to hang on to your cash. Many other airlines such as Qatar or Aer Lingus have started offering a bonus of around 10% on customers taking a voucher instead of the cash refund. So far BA has resisted this but instead, they are giving you the chance to get your refund in Avios instead of cash. This applies if BA has cancelled your flight and you are entitled to a cash refund. 

What they’re really doing is selling you Avios at a discounted price – which is round about half the usual cost of Avios. If you need Avios then this is a good deal, but I would not be taking large sums of Avios instead of refund unless you plan to book something soon. This is because there is nothing to guarantee that those Avios may not be devalued by the time you come to use them. BA had previously been touting dynamic Avios pricing and while this has gone quiet for the moment, it doesn’t mean it may not come back onto the agenda. I think it is unlikely in the short term but not long term. 

For example, if your refund was around £1407 which is the average cost of a good deal in Club to the West Coast of the US, you would get back 175,000 Avios instead of the cash. This assumes it is exactly half the current buying rate. So you would get back more than it would cost to fly to Los Angeles in Club World at 125,000 Avios, but you would still have the taxes and charges of around £600. At a lower rate, if you had a refund of £250 you could get 28,400.
 
In effect, you are getting a 100% bonus on buying Avios which is probably as good as we are going to see. As usual, it all depends on what you want them for as to whether you should buy them or not. 
 

BA Future Travel Voucher update

And on the subject of BA refunds, we are still waiting for a firm date when we can use the Future Travel Vouchers online. Current estimates are for mid-June. One bit of good news if you booked as an On Business customer and took a voucher, you can do one name change free of charge so someone else can use the voucher. Sadly despite initially saying that you would be able to use the voucher to book for someone else, it never actually happened. I can only hope this is allowed when you can use the voucher online. 
 
If you booked flights for other people you can only get back a voucher for each named passenger regardless of who paid for it. This is not true of holiday bookings where the lead passenger gets a voucher back for the entire booking. 
 

Virgin to delay flights due to UK quarantine rules

To say that the airline reaction to the UK quarantine for people entering the UK from 8 June has been unfavourable is putting it mildly. To be frank, I completely agree with them. This seems an ill-thought-out policy which is way too late. It is full of loopholes which will simply not protect the UK in the way it is intended as well as destroying tourism and aviation for even longer. This has led airlines to start reviewing their plans for the resumption of flights. Just as airlines started to announce that they were starting flights again as Europe began to announce borders opening, then the UK government threw a massive spanner in the works. Most airlines were looking at July to resume flights, I now expect many of them to cancel further flights so brace yourself for more cancellations.

The UK quarantine policy is due to be reviewed every three weeks so the first review will be at the end of June. Hopefully, the government will realise they have made a huge mistake and come up with something much more targetted and intelligent that will support safe travel by August. 

Virgin announced that they would be delaying the resumption of flights until August at the earliest. The airline is in financial difficulty and looking for an investor after failing to secure help from the government on a technicality. Virgin told the Evening Standard,

“The safety and security of our people and our customers is always our top priority and public health must come first,” 

“However, by introducing a mandatory 14 day self-isolation for every single traveller entering the UK, the Government’s approach will prevent flights from resuming. We are continually reviewing our flying programme and with these restrictions, there simply won’t be sufficient demand to resume passenger services before August at the earliest.”

“We know that as the Covid-19 crisis subsides, air travel will be a vital enabler of the UK’s economic recovery.

“Therefore, we are calling for a multi-layered approach of carefully targeted public health and screening measures, which will allow for a successful and safe restart of international air travel for passengers and businesses.”

Hopefully, the quarantine will not be the final nail in the coffin of struggling airlines like Virgin Atlantic. 

 

France’s tit for tat quarantine

When the UK government originally talked about quarantine, they originally said that France would be exempt. After a lot of criticism, there was a u-turn and it was decided that only the Common Travel Area (United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Island) and the Republic of Ireland would be exempt. In an unsurprising move, France has now decided that if we are not going to exempt them, they will introduce a quarantine for UK passengers from 8 June. Travellers arriving from Spain by plane in France will also be asked to go into quarantine from 25 May. The regulations do not apply to those in transit and there is a list of other exemptions such as healthcare workers and those with a family emergency. 

France said it would impose reciprocal measures for any European country enforcing a quarantine.

A spokesman for France’s Interior Minister said: “We take note of the British government’s decision and we regret it. France is ready to put in place a reciprocal measure as soon as the system comes into force on the British side.”

My concern is that now this forces a whole chain of events where other countries impose a quarantine on UK visitors in retaliation after many European countries announced plans to restart tourism. What Europe and the world in general needs is a co-ordinated and data-driven approach, not just random quarantines with no real rationale behind it. In the UK  when you arrive, you are allowed to travel by public transport from the airport if you have no other option and go to the supermarket for food if you have no one to help you. Not exactly going to stop the spread of anything by doing that, is it? 

 

 

9 Comments on "NEWS: Get BA refunds in Avios, Virgin delays flights restarting & France’s tit for tat quarantine – is it just the start?"

  1. Michele Knight | 25 May 2020 at 8:05 am | Reply

    Hi Michele, what is your understanding of Future Travel Vouchers where the booking included a child. We took a FTV for a booking which was in my husbands name with my daughter also on the booking. The voucher we got back is just in my husbands name. We didn’t get a separate voucher for my daughter. As far as you understand it,is this correct?

  2. I agree with your assessment. It was, perhaps, forgivable for the government to make mistakes in February and even March, since little was known about the problems the country was about to encounter. Since then, there has been a mish mash of junk policies which resemble nothing more than juvenile, ill-assessed kneejerk responses deepening the damage to the travel industry, and indeed many other industries. There is an undeniable sense that the latest joke policy is playing to a xenophobic minority for whom all things bad come from abroad.

  3. I have been waiting on a refund since the 18th of March every time I talk to them get told a different story on way I’m still waiting but will get there sometime. I only have 49K avios and a Amex upgrade 241 would it be worth getting the Avios deal(.im owed £3200)?

    • Personally I wouldn’t do it with that amount of cash as I would never consider buying that many.

  4. ClaytonTheCruton | 25 May 2020 at 3:00 pm | Reply

    As I’ve said on here repeatedly, the quarantine is pointless at this point having not been imposed when it should’ve of ( ie: months ago at the height of this thing). It will hurt the UK more than it hurts anyone else.

    As for BA, and as i’ve also said before, if BA are that desperate to keep our cash in their own coffers then the quickest & simplest way to do this is to allow people to use vouchers to offset against future bookings which of course despite both customer and over worked call centre staff calls to do allow they are still refusing to do so.

    WW and his senior team are so blinkered and refusing to look at even medium let alone long term impacts of their actions they need a spanking and that’s not even taking into account their treatment of BA staff.

  5. I requested a refund on 16 May; the refund was posted to credit card two days later. I was quite surprised by the swift refund, and by the fact that I didn’t have to hold for more than a few minutes to speak to a customer service representative.

  6. What Europe and the world in general needs is a co-ordinated and data-driven approach, not just random quarantines with no real rationale behind it. I TOTALLY agree. I would have thought that WHO and IATA would take the lead on this. I have not seen any mentions on press. Did you hear, Michelle?

    • There is some work going on which the CEO of Heathrow has been calling for exactly as you say – coordinated and based on some actual data rather than just a blanket ban. They mentioned it at the Transport Select Committee. But I think it was more to do with general flying standards rather than quarantine. I think that the UK bought it in as a knee jerk reaction and did not have time to do any actual assessments. Hopefully as we get left behind by virtually every other country they will see sense and reduce it to countries where there is a real threat. If it was me I would be just doing countries such as US, Brazil, Turkey, Russia and a few in Europe where CV is still high. No point on countries that have almost wiped it out. They are more likely to catch it here…

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