The airline industry is in crisis, and our intention throughout this time is to provide clarity to readers about their options, and to inspire travelers to return to the skies when the time is right. We want all airlines flying in six months, not just some.
No one wants undue harm done to any airlines, but there are boundaries which should not be crossed in any aspect of life, and in my opinion, British airways has crossed one. They’re duping passengers out of refunds when they’re due, by pretending it’s not an option.
Airlines have direct access to presidents and prime ministers, but customers do not – and making it hard for people to get whats legally owed to them is just wrong, particularly in times where people will find themselves in financial need. In this case, British Airways has been doing its best to make it impossible.
British Airways knows the rules, just as every airline does.
They knew full well that in regards to flights cancelled by them, the EU Commission clearly stated that passengers are due full refunds to their original form of payment, not just vouchers for future travel with the airline. If you cancel because you don’t want to travel, it’s a totally different story. It’s really simple…
You want to cancel: you can get a voucher or change dates, within BA’s policy.
British Airways cancels your flight: you are due a full refund, or you can take voucher.
This is all part of EC261, the European guidelines for what airlines must do when travel is disrupted. The EU correctly suspended cash payments to effected passengers, but clearly stated that refunds must still be offered when the airline cancels, so long as a government did not allow the plane to fly.
British Airways chose to hide this fact, to trick people into accepting vouchers with the airline for future travel, instead of handing back the cash legally owed, if wished. That’s duplicitous, and as people in all industries lose their jobs en masse, it’s wrong to deceive customers. It just is.
Worse, it’s been proven that this was intentional on the part of British airways. The airline modified the refund and cancellation page to hide the refund option entirely.
The airline intentionally redirected customers who were due a full refund to their original form of payment, to a form which gave them only an option for a voucher to use toward a future flight. And of course, they understaffed the phones, so anyone who knew better couldn’t get through.
A refund button was nowhere to be found. Again, it was intentionally hidden. Only after more than a day of trial and error, Head For Points was able to find a workaround using a particular browser.
Don’t picture the 1% of tech savvy enthusiasts who played around with the website all day, picture the 99% of travelers here, almost all of which assumed they were presented their full legal options, who absolutely were not. That’s a lot of money.
In GSTP’s editorial opinion, it’s a tragedy for any of the hardworking members of British Airways team to lose work either temporarily or for the long haul due to the brutal drop in travel demand, but the personal in a position of commercial power who knowingly made this call to hide the refund button is the first person who may actually deserve to lose their job.
If you can’t trust someone in times of world crisis, they don’t deserve a place at the table when its full of money again. Peoples pockets may be emptying now, but those who struggled to recoup what is legally owed right now won’t soon forget it when coffers are full again.
Reports from readers who were lucky enough to get through to British Airways by phone suggest that the airline is promising a return to refund functionality on the web within 24 hours, but there’s no telling how many thousands, perhaps millions of people will have already accepted the voucher by the time that functionality is restored. What a shame, or is it without the “e”?