a plane on the runway

Here’s the most amusingly frustrating situation for travelers who’ve had their plans changed or cancelled. The good news – British Airways customers who “chose” vouchers over cash are now beginning to receive said vouchers. The bad news – the vouchers are blank, and don’t specify what they’re worth.

Being that many customers also report never seeing the amount they’d receive when they were ‘somewhat’ forced to accept said voucher originally, it’s not ideal, and kind of a problem…

By now, it’s no secret that British Airways actually went to the trouble to modify the code on their voucher and refund web page to remove the refund button from sight. Even passengers legally due refunds for cancelled flights only found an option for a voucher, and many assumed that was honestly all they were entitled to.

Would an airline lie?

LONDON, UK - August 10th, 2018: view of Heathrow airport with stormy skies and British Airways airplanes at their standsScrambling, and happy for anything, many customers just pressed the button and accepted the voucher. In fairness, if you want to support your favorite airline, taking the voucher versus a refund is helpful to airline viability during these difficult times, but it’d be nice if they at least told you what it’s worth. British Airways has failed to manage that…

The vast majority of British Airways travelers report that due to IT issues, they effectively accepted a blank voucher when attempting to deal with flights cancelled or postponed due to the current crisis. Is it a million bucks, or zero – no one knows. Let’s just hope the system does?

If, -and it’s a BIG “if” – travelers trusted that British Airways IT would’ve correctly issued vouchers for the full amount paid, and not stripped away taxes, fees or voluntary cancellation charges, it’s safe to assume that the voucher is for whatever you paid in miles or money.

Knowing British Airways, that’s quite an assumption. The airline has a “unique” history with all things information technology, including numerous full scale meltdowns and… well yeah. But that’s only the first half.

a seat in a planeThe good news is that customers who blindly accepted a soon to be delivered voucher rather than cash, with no amount specified – are now receiving sad vouchers. The bad news – they’re once again blank. Is it the correct amount? No one knows. Maybe try to buy something ridiculously expensive with it?

It’s absolutely worth calling to find out what the value of your voucher is, but for most travelers without access to a special line to call, that’s a lengthy ordeal. And should you need to? Most would say… surely not. In two points of contact, one voucher amount would’ve seemed manageable.

Hot tip: save all credit card statements and or email receipts from the original ticket until you’re sure the voucher amount is indeed correct, whenever you’re able to.

Like all airlines, GSTP hopes British Airways weathers this storm and returns to the skies in greater glory than ever, with everyone on board. But while we’re here, perhaps they can use the downtime to find capable IT and stop absolutely ludicrous things like this from happening.

The naughty and nice list for airline refunds and vouchers is getting interesting…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Hi Gilbert,
    Apparently you have to disable the Java script on the voucher page to get a refund instead . Heard from a friend that successfully got his refund . Good luck, F

  2. I’m not surprised that BA are seeing this as an opportunity to rip off their loyal passengers. Lets just hope, an equitable slot distribution system that takes some account of customer service is introduced when we return to the skys.
    People (you included Glibert) should remember their shoddy, immoral approach although as someone who suffered this over recent years, it’s not new. Just an incredible shame that they can’t see the need to be transparent and pull together in these unprecedented times… even charging FCO absolutely top dollar for repatriation flights whilst providing no PPE to crew and absolutely minimal amenities for customers onboard… Fair enough if it’s chocolate bars and pre-packaged food, but 2x 20gram bags of potato chips and a bottle of water on a 9+hr flight isn’t enough.
    =- SpanglishQatari airways, the shareholder focussed airline, profiteering from your misery. By Design.

  3. Nothing would give me more glee, and nothing would be more completely and utterly deserved than BA going bankrupt.

    Bail out the employees not the company, let the shareholders and management rot.

    Years of mismanagement and fraudulent despicable behaviour should not go unpunished.

  4. Interesting read, Easyjet seem to be playing the same game and making it incredibly difficult to get refund for cancelled flights. My parents are finding it bewildering and very stressful in what is already a difficult time.

  5. When a friend’s BA flight to Japan was cancelled, I googled.for advice on how to get him a refund and found instructions about disabling Javascript at a certain point in the process. What it didn’t tell me was that you have to re-enable Javascript before the refund goes through.

    That was a few weeks ago. I don’t.know if it still works now. Although EU airlines that cancel flights from or to EU lcations are legally obliged to offer refunds, it is clear (and not entirely un-understandable) that they are doing all they can to get disappointed customers to accept vouchers instead. But they cannot legally refuse to refund your fare if you insist on it

  6. In India we made sure to fight for a refund. They kept asking us to either cancel with high penalties or accept vouchers – which was probably a BA HQ diktat. We didn’t relent and waited till the last minute, till the flight cancellation showed up. And then asked for a refund. It helps that our bookings were via email and we knew the seniors. In BA’s defence, they were in touch throughout and we eventually received the refund. The value was around $9k do not less. Kudos to them.

  7. Have BA not broken their side of the contract if you accepted a voucher instead of a refund when it was not supplied in the specified timeframe. We as a group had alternative flights already chosen, I naively expected a simply reply as a e voucher for the booking value when I pressed accept voucher, then said within 48 hrs 3 days later an e mail within the next 7 days 3 weeks later still no voucher. If when it finally arrives we cannot book the flights for the cost which I luckily screenshot I will likely dispute with credit card company for full refund for cancelled flight.

  8. I did the nojava/javascript refund trick on 23 March. No refund yet on taxes paid on mileage flight, and no miles returned either.

  9. We received our voucher pretty promptly. Our concern is that you have to phone the Call Centre to rebook an alternative flight, the voucher only being valid for 12 months. Given the pressure the Call Centre is under, we are completely at a loss to understand why the online booking system for flights/holidays is not configured to put in a voucher code. Is this likely to happen at some point? If not, the flight in February 2021 we wish to take to replace our flight on 20/4/20 may not be available because of all the thousands of passengers who took vouchers and need to use them!

  10. I requested a voucher for a cancelled BA holiday. I received an email from BA 48 hours later with the subject “Travel with confidence” followed by the original booking reference. In the email it clearly states the value of the voucher, which is the full amount that I paid. The email tells me that to use the voucher, I should place a new booking online, and it goes on to state that:

    “If you pay a deposit on your new booking, we will reduce the balance due by the above amount. Alternatively if your booking is paid in full we will refund the voucher value back to the payment card you used for your new booking.”

    I think that’s pretty clear. Are people who have requested a voucher for a flight-only refund not receiving a similar email from BA?

  11. We never got an email like that. I have looked again, even going so far as to “book” next years holiday and the only options for paying are the usual – credit or debit cards. No box for a voucher code. Will be interested to hear back on this post if you were successful in doing so.

    1. Streetworks Lin – the email that I received from BA Holidays went on to say:

      “Please reply to this email with your new booking reference once made. Alternatively please call our contact centre to make a booking by phone, contact details here”

      So if your refund voucher was for a holiday, and you did not receive an email from BA Holidays with the subject “Travel with confidence”, then I guess that your only option is to phone up to make a booking, and explain that you have a voucher to use.

  12. British Airways are appealing. They are managed directly by Iberia a Spanish company IAG. Willie Walsh that greedy little Irish Chief executive who only cares about profit and his own share rights. He will walk away from all this in June counting his millions and laughing like the little leprechaun he is. When this Lockdown comes to an end watch BA she’d staff like never before and without a care for service put in over many years. Alex Cruz is no better a man who keeps taking his huge salary while expecting our British taxpayers to pay for the Furlough costs of huge staff numbers. It’s disgusting and I like a previous writer would love to see BA crumble from the top down, and land on top of the Leprechaun.

  13. I’m retired and do quite some travelling every year, usually to at least 10 countries yearly. When I moved to UK many years ago, I switched from StarAlliance carriers and tried BA. A couple of business class flights later, I gave up. It was not a lot more than low cost carrier. Seats, service, food etc were rather poor. Now I rather pay more (and a little inconvenience) to fly with StarAlliance, particularly Singapore Airlines. It’s embarrassing to even compare BA to SQ. Now I only use BA on short haul if I can’t find other options.

  14. Received email from BA 3 days before cancelled flights, to let me know that they will fully refund me in 10 days. Received full refund in less than a week through CC (original purchase method). Does not have to talk to anyone through the whole process. 0 fuss.
    It’s all about the principle, and they do right by me. The money will definitely go back to them for our make up trip.

  15. As some who paid for a flight & got charged for a flight change that didn’t happen….after my flight got cancelled I’m livid. My flight was canceled and 2 days later they took the money for a flight change off my credit card? Its robbery? They knew the flight wasn’t going ahead?

  16. Well you all know what to do once the skies open up… finally change your airline.
    All I can say, I have had 4 BA flights cancelled the most recent 2 days ago for a flight in 2 weeks. Each time I’ve phoned up, been connected pretty much straight away and had a refund to my credit card.

    All in stark contrast to Qatar where I’ve literally heard nothing back still for a flight several weeks ago. They don’t even answer the phone or respond to emails. For such a lauded airline pretty crap service.

    1. Andrew, generally excellent news and glad to hear it. Would you mind sharing two data points?

      1) do you have elite status
      2) has the money hit your account?


  17. I applied for a voucher and was promised one in 7 days. It finally arrived via email in 10 days. Ironically, on the day my flights were cancelled 🤔. Worryingly there is no value attached said voucher and when I rebook I must do so by phone! Can’t bring myself to wait on the phone for an interminable time but know I must!!
    On the good side I also had a flight booked using a BA Amex companion voucher and Avios. After a 45 minute telephone wait I got through to a very helpful agent who refunded everything. The Avios and companion voucher were back the same day, the surcharge payment was received the following day. And the voucher was extended by 6 months.

  18. I had flights booked for the family to Milan over Easter. We booked with companion voucher and Avios and cash. Thinking companion voucher expires soon anyway and avios points are still only good if BA remains in business similar to what you may fear of getting a voucher, I opted for the voucher. Now with no value attached, can I book the same route in the future with this vouchers or will they only represent the cash amount spent or other?

  19. @Justin – From what i have read online, the companion voucher should be returned to you and still valid, with the dates for you to use it extended (+6 months from memory). If you booked with Avios & cash, your voucher will be worth the total cash value of the flight (as if you paid 100% cash), you do not get your avios returned to you.

  20. When our flights were cancelled at the beginning of April, I joined the frustrated ranks of those customers trying to get a refund. After several days of trying, faced with a phone line that simply cut off after a few rings, I clicked the Voucher option, as it seemed the only way forward. A few days later, a voucher arrived by email.

    Since then, my wife and I realised that it was unlikely that we would want to travel within the next two years, so we called BA to say we wished to return the vouchers and claim a refund instead. We were told that, having accepted the vouchers, we had forfeited our right to a refund. I pointed out that there was no reference to this on the website when I accepted the voucher, and the BA employee suggested that we went through the BA complaints procedure to request a refund.

    So we filled in the online complaint form, and got an auto-reply with a reference number and the assurance that our case was being looked into. After a month, we had still heard nothing back, so we called again. The BA representative we spoke to insisted, once again, that we had lost our right to a refund. When we asked why we had not received a reply to our complaint, he said that no-one was monitoring complaints, and the ‘Complaints Procedure was now inactive’.

    So, no refunds and no complaints. This can’t be legal.

  21. I decided to wait as I didn’t want to hang on the phone for 2 hours. I eventually got an e mail giving me a voucher code. I am now in dispute as I never contacted them requesting a voucher and they are saying I did. I’ve asked 4 times for a copy of this acceptance which is supposedly now being looked into and today received a new type of voucher?? Again I have contacted them refusing it and asking for a cheque.

    1. I’ve had the same issue with a flight due the next day. But apparently I requested a voucher (which I didn’t) and they said because of that, I am no longer on the flight. I’ve flagged and raised this and asked when this voucher was requested. They have me a time frame and date. I checked my browsing history and didn’t even log on the BA website.

      These blank cheque vouchers are true – you get these codes with no value assigned to them unless you call and ask.

      I’m now filing a complaint with Amex and requesting faulty goods and trying to claim back the original voucher I received to book this flight with this blank voucher.

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