Cancel or Change Flights Booked with Avios
Earlier on today I was on the phone to the British Airways Executive Club and I’m embarrassed to admit that I failed miserably at cancelling Avios flights from the Isle of Man back home to London… Like all stories, there’s a little more to it than I may be letting on, however it highlighted a couple of key quirks with the British Airways Avios cancellation policy which I want to share. Hopefully at some point in the future you may find these tips useful when seeking to cancel Avios bookings.
Sooo let me provide you with a little more context on why I was cancelling BA reward flights. Earlier today I went to check in to my flight which I thought was tomorrow… it actually turns out I booked it a day early and the flight had taken off a couple of hours ago.
Trying to hide this minor mistake from the other half, I quickly went online and found that there was still Avios reward availability on the flight we were meant to be on so booked two seats sharpish. Phew – got away with that one I thought! How wrong I was. A couple of hours later it dawned on me that unless you fly the outbound route, British Airways automatically cancel the return reward flight.
It was at this point I found myself on the phone to Avios trying to either cancel or change the return flight booked with Avios. I know far too well that you cannot either change or cancel Avios bookings within 24 hours of the outbound flight but wanted to give it a go anyway. The outcome was a spectacular fail! As there was no reward availability or even BA cash tickets on the day I wanted to return, I found myself paying £112 per person to book the return flights with easyJet.
Now if I hadn’t forgotten one of my gold rules when booking I could have protected myself from this risk and saved myself a considerable sum of money. Read on to find out more…
Cancelling Avios Flights – All you need to know
Now there are only two main rules when it comes to cancelling BA reward flights.
- You must cancel your flight at least 24 hours before your outbound flight to receive a refund of both the Avios points used and taxes.
- There is a fee payable per cancelled Avios flight of the lower of either £35 or the taxes.
Rule one is particularly interesting to those whose plans change regularly. If you’re on say a 2-week holiday and half way through the holiday fancy extending it by another week, unfortunately you’d be unable to make any changes to the return flight!
However if the flight had been booked as two one-way tickets you’d actually be able to either cancel or change the return journey for a fee of £35 per ticket (subject to reward availability). This handy tip also protects those, who like me, tend to miss flights! If I’d booked my flights to the Isle of Man as two one-way flights it would have cost exactly the same and protected my return journey if (as in this case) I’d missed the outbound flight for some reason.
A further interesting fact about choosing to book a return flight as two separate one-way tickets is that it can actually be cheaper! Even some of the most seasoned Avios points collectors may not know that it’s actually possible to reduce taxes on European flights below the standard £35 economy Reward Flight Saver charge. An example of this would be say Heathrow to Dublin. As we can see below, the outbound flight would require 4,000 Avios and £17.50 in taxes.
However the return journey would require 4,000 Avios and £11.24 in taxes providing a (not so whopping) saving of £6.26. But as we say, every little counts!
This then leads on to rule two. The fee payable for cancelling Avios flights is the lower of £35 or the taxes paid. In this instance you’d only lose the £28.74 and still get the 8,000 Avios back as long as the flights are over 24 hours away. I suppose this is one benefit of the British Airways Avios cancellation policy.
A situation in which this would be even better would be when redeeming Avios for American Airlines domestic flights within the US. As I recently wrote in an article on how to book American Airlines with Avios, the taxes on these flights are incredibly cheap. I’m talking £4.40 for a return flight! In this instance the BA Avios cancellation fee would be limited to the taxes of £4.40 – not bad hey!
What if I Have a 2-4-1 Voucher?
As we mention regularly, the 2-4-1 voucher offered by the American Express Premium Plus card (reviewed here) is one of the most generous in the market. Yes the free version also offers the voucher, however with an expiry of just a year (compared to 2 years with the Premium Plus) it makes it extremely difficult to use…
If you look to cancel an Avios booking where you’ve used a 2-4-1 voucher fear not! As long as you’re cancelling the Avios tickets at least 24 hours beforehand, you’ll receive all your Avios points back as well as that beloved 2-4-1 voucher. Don’t forget you’ll be charged the fee of £35 per ticket.
Cancelling Avios Flights – What You Need to Remember
As we’ve seen, there are two main rules you need to remember when looking to cancel Avios bookings. The first is that the flight needs to be over 24 hours away and the second is that you’ll pay a fee of either the lower of the taxes or £35.
To avoid finding yourself in an awkward position like me, always try to book Avios reward redemptions as 2 one-way flights but only if the combined taxes are either the same or cheaper!
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