British Airways Increases Award Change And Cancellation Fees

Yesterday I shared the news that British Airways Executive Club added change and cancellation fees for Executive Club Gold Card Holders effective immediately. Not only is it disappointing that Gold members now pay the same change fees as all other members, but it was also disappointing that they made this change without advance notice.

Well today it appears as if there’s more bad news when it comes to award ticket change and cancellation fees, as British Airways has raised these fees across the board.

Per the reward flight booking service fees page on ba.com, the fee to change or cancel an Executive Club award ticket has gone up by $15 (from $40 to $55):

Executive-Club-Award-Change-Fees
Old award ticket change fees

Executive-Club-Award-Change-Fees
New award ticket change fees

What makes Avios bookings interesting is that you don’t necessarily have to pay the full cancellation fee when redepositing an Avios ticket. In order to redeposit an award ticket and get the Avios back in your account you have to either forfeit the taxes or pay the $55 fee to get the residual taxes refunded.

This means if you book an award ticket between Tampa and Miami for 4,500 Avios plus $2.50 in taxes you’d just forfeit the $2.50 and get the 4,500 Avios redeposited.

Meanwhile if you booked an award ticket that involves fuel surcharges, like Los Angeles to London in first class for 75,00 Avios plus ~$500, you’d have to pay $55 in order to get the ~$500 refunded.

As was the case before, Executive Club award tickets can’t be changed or cancelled within 24 hours of departure.

While this change is disappointing, at the end of the day British Airways still has very reasonable change and cancellation fees compared to other programs, which often charge $150-200 per ticket. And beyond that it’s nice that British Airways doesn’t charge any close-in ticketing fees for awards booked within a few weeks of departure.

The lack of advance notice irks me a bit, though.

(Tip of the hat to Ghetto IFE)

Comments

  1. Still too low to prevent people from speculative bookings. Should be at least $100 to get your avios back.

  2. So if I want to cancel a LAX-OGG AA flight, I don’t have to pay the $40/$55 fee? I just forfeit the $2.50? That’s awesome!

  3. I agree with Tom. For the very few times I’ve had to spend a couple hundred dollars on redeposit fees, I would trade those lower BA redeposit fees for the extra availability that getting rid of the speculative bookings would create.

  4. Has anyone else seen drastically reduced Avios domestic availability in the last few months? I used to be able to fly to Miami, DFW, ORD, etc easily with 8 economy award seats on multiple flights each day 90 days out. Now they just have 2 or 4 seats in first class. Triple miles for a 1 class regional jet, no thanks. Southwest here I come.

    BNA based flyer

  5. @ baxterboy12 — Yeah, unfortunately American has gotten a bit stingier with domestic award availability lately. You’re not alone.

  6. @ Jeff — I believe the policy is based on booking date, so if you booked before the 31st you’d be subject to the old rates.

  7. @ baxterboy12 I’ve also noticed more instances where, for instance, an economy nonstop is only available at the anytime 25K level, with the saver 12.5K level requiring a connection. Not always but certainly less than before.

  8. @Barb, agreed, AA appears to be tightening the belt for Aadvantage and Avios low-level award availability unilaterally. Guess the awesome Avios availability since distance-based awards were intro’d had to end sometime.

  9. Cancelled two short RT flights booked with 18,000 Avios (not speculative, something major actually came up). I ate the few dollars and taxes and got an email saying 18k Avios would be redeposited. A few days later I received a redeposit in the very odd amount of exactly 14,858 Avios. Do you think this is just an IT glitch or some rule I am not aware of where I am only entitled to a partial refund? I’d call BA to ask for the extra couple thousand back if I actually deserve them.

  10. Sorry, from the BA website I just don’t see how you come to this conclusion of not paying the $55 to cancel and get miles back (and lose the taxes) …

  11. Thanks, Lucky!
    I am about to use your link for a shot at 60K UR points … maybe had too many of these, but we’ll see.

  12. I used BA miles to book an AA domestic flight for my wife. She needs to cancel it now, but the BA website says I need to call to cancel. Does not give me the option to cancel online. Does this mean I have to pay the full $55 cancellation fee, as opposed to the $2.50 in taxes? I booked prior to the new regulations, if that makes a difference. Thanks in advance…

  13. @ Brian – if you follow the online link in the email it doesn’t give you an option to cancel? I’d booked S7 tickets using BA and, while I couldn’t change them, I could cancel them online. Anyhow, to answer your main question — if you cancel and get Avios back, you will only lose $2.50 as cancellation fee comes out of what you paid in cash, i.e. they reduce your refund by that amount. If the refund goes below $0 (for you, it’s -52.50), they don’t charge you.

  14. @ Ivan, there is no cancellation link in the email, but when I click the Manage My Booking link for that reservation, then navigate to the bottom to the “Cancellation Options for this Booking” link, the message comes up “We are unable to process a refund for you online. Please contact us for all refund enquiries.” When I called UK BA, they told me they would not waive the 30 pound cancellation fee under any circumstances (even though I explained that their website would not allow me to cancel online). Anyway, thanks for your suggestions and information. I’ll keep trying.

    @ lucky – I live in the US, but my first call was with UK BA, to avoid the crazy wait times with US BA. Maybe I’ll bite the bullet and try US BA next. Do you know of any other global BA branches that might be faster to call?

  15. Are there any tips and tricks on how to book reward travel on BA without incurring high fees? I tried to book reward travel for 2 people on BA and they want to charge $1684 but for the same flight, AA is only charging $245.

  16. Like Brian, received a message that it cannot process a refund online. This is also a redemption for AA domestic flight using Avios.

  17. use the south african british airways call centre.
    if you are unable to cancel a booking online, they will waive the penalty of cancelling over the phone.
    +27114418500
    it will also only cost 2,5 dollars to do the cancellation on american airlines. (and now us airways as well)

  18. I am trying to get people aware of another important issue for frequent travels/gold members.Aas a long time gold member and someone who lives between london and NYC, i fly BA trans-atlantic at least once a month. It used to be that 50% of the time i could buy ticket in premium economy and upgrade to biz or buy a Biz class ticket with points. now i see as of mid-august 2014, there are only 4 business class tickets left all year. thats from the 1500 flights left (10 flights per day). They used to release a few tickets a few days before.. but they changed the policy to make people buy upgrades at the airport…and there was no communication with any gold members. Also the customer service people are completely unaware with the exception of a few of the smarter CS people.

    This is so disgusting.

  19. @embee

    “Disgusting” is a strange way to describe capitalism. Feel free to use another airline if you don’t like their offerings. I am only guessing, but I don’t think BA is forcing you to fly with them.

  20. When using BA, sometimes glitches prevent the website cancellation. Haven’t experienced for US/AA flights, so the speculative bookings (or easy cancellations) are still a-go, but when it happens it SUCKS to have to call in AND to eat whatever high fee they quote you. I was quoted $80 (presumably the $55+$25, and balked, but was sent to the never-ending-queue which is how BA tells you to F!#K off)

  21. as far as i know, you can change a flight booked within 24 hours at no cost at all but you have to call the british airways call centre. It cant be done online but can be done with the call centre for free.

  22. Are the fees the same if I, say, change from the 1:30PM flight to the 5:30PM flight, with the same departure and destination points?

  23. I just got screwed over with a cancellation and thought I’d warn people about my experience.

    As Ivan Y said, they take the cancellation fee out of what you paid in cash, and if the balance drops below $0 they don’t charge you the excess.

    In my case, the award I wanted was 9,000 points + $19 in taxes, but I chose the cash + points option for 6,500 points + $59. When I went to cancel, they refunded 6,500 points and kept the entire $59 (this was in AUD so the cancellation fee would have been $63). In essence, they kept the cash portion of the cash + points in addition to the taxes since the total was less than the cancellation fee.

    The lesson is, if you’re making a speculative booking or one you may want to change, don’t use the cash + points option unless you’re prepared to pay up to the entire cancellation fee.

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