Good news has been announced for British Airways group customers still in possession of vouchers issued in place of flights untaken due to Covid-19.
The flagship British carrier is extending its deadline for anyone still holding vouchers taken in lieu of cash refunds during the Covid-19 pandemic. Rather than expiring on 30th September 2023, the vouchers can now be used for travel completed before the same date in 2024, giving customers an extra year to make sure their money is not lost.
The ‘Book with Confidence’ voucher system allowed British Airways’ parent group IAG to postpone the cost of reimbursing customers whose travel plans were disrupted during the pandemic, a crucial tool in helping the group avoid bankruptcy. But reporting recently on the group’s annual report, the BBC noted IAG still has a potential liability of €600 million ($665mn) in unclaimed vouchers across Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, and its other carriers.
TripActions, a travel firm serving the business and leisure sectors notes that typically a large proportion of vouchers go unclaimed and last year reported it had observed a noticeable increase in unused credits among its client base.
If the vouchers go unspent by the 2024 deadline, they will effectively boost BA’s profit margin, especially as the group can now sell seats at a higher price than its pre-COVID fares, according to aviation consultant and former IAG employee, Robert Boyle, who spoke to the BBC. With prices rising then, it is in the group’s interest to encourage anyone who wants to use their voucher to do so as quickly as possible. It is also in the customer’s interest, as the voucher only retains the cash value customers paid for their ticket, plus any extras and baggage.
Industry statistics suggest a large proportion of vouchers typically go unspent. Here are the steps to take to avoid being one of the customers who loses out.
The vouchers were originally issued by email, so customers who have lost track of cancelled journeys or what they might be able to claim, should make sure to search all their email folders. In addition, an online tool is available to customers where they can check if they hold vouchers and see how much their voucher is worth.
Simple Flying notes that although it is not possible to use the vouchers to pay for extras like bags or upgrades, or for additional fees on Avios redemptions, British Airways does accept their cash value as payment on holiday packages. Customers will need to call customer services to do so.
If you are looking at using your vouchers, the Points Guy has pointed out an important caveat: “if your flight was canceled between March 9, 2020, and Nov. 19, 2020, and you originally requested an eVoucher from the airline that you’ve yet to use, you don’t have to spend it. In this case, passengers are also still entitled to a cash refund, which they must claim by Sept. 30, 2024. To request a cash refund, use this form for each eVoucher. If the canceled flight was partially paid for with Avios, you’d be able to claim those points back, too.”