BA Flights during Covid 19 pandemic

Well I’m due to fly to the Middle East with BA in a few weeks time and I think it’s pretty clear that it isn’t going to happen. So having paid for the holiday in full just a few days ago because if Ihadn’t I’d have lost my deposit, this morning, I’ve received an email from BA quoting my booking reference. They haven’t as yet actually formally cancelled the holiday, which of course is fully ATOL protected and which I’ve paid for entirely on credit card. What they have done though is push me an email with a link which effectively lends itself to ‘steer’ me to apply for a voucher.

Now I don’t know what others here would do, but accepting a voucher when I have no idea whether BA will survive this pandemic, would to me seem sheer lunacy. If BA collapsed, the voucher I’m sure would be worthless. Not only that, I could quite literally die waiting to take a holiday within the 2 years the voucher is apparently valid for should I choose to accept one, which of course I won’t.

No where in the email I have received have BA once mentioned the word ‘REFUND’, which of course if THEY cancel the holiday, then by law, I’m fully entitled to such a refund within 7 days of requesting one.

So, would any of you accept a voucher knowing that if you did so then you could end up forfeiting your consumer position in terms of refund entitlement?

The other issue I have also is, when I booked this particular holiday and also the holiday my Wife and I are due to take later in the year, we did so taking into account that our holidays would be covered under Nationwide’s Travel Insurance included in our FlexPlus account. The terms of those bookings for insurance purposes are covered pre Covid 19. If I accepted a voucher for travel next year or within two years, then I’m assuming we’d have to organise completely separate insurance or accept Nationwide’s new insurance terms. So no, no voucher for me, I’ll be requiring a full refund once BA actually inform me they are cancelling our holiday.

As your original booking was covered by the ATOL bond, as long as BA are doing ‘Refund Credit Vouchers’, they will be financially protected until BA’s ATOL renewel date (although that should be stated on the voucher).

However, yes you’re right - you can ask for a refund. However, on a flight its 7 days, on a package holiday its 14 days. Its unlike that will happen, easyJet is saying you might not get it back in three months and Ryanair not doing refunds until they are able to fly again.

I wouldn’t accept the voucher either.

Regarding travel medical insurance bought in future that’s an unknown but I surmise that there will not be cover for CV without a massive premium. ICU costs are mega anywhere in the world.

We have no intention whatsoever of accepting a voucher. I have heard that people who have requested a refund, have been refunded within 48 hours back to their credit cards.

More worryingly, it seems the airlines are making representations to the Government to allow vouchers only and the Government are allegedly looking into this. The vouchers would be valid for 2 years. Word has it, that if the voucher cannot be used within those two years, then and only then, would a full refund be offered. To me that sounds abysmal because effectively that would mean that if you no longer wanted to take that holiday in the future because your original booking was cancelled and are initally forced to accept a voucher, I’m surmising that one would have to wait at least 2 years for a refund? That seems completely unacceptable to me. There will be people who will have lost their jobs during this pandemic and might need that money to live on. I realise this is all hypothetical until it/if it happens, but it seems that there would be a behind the scences attitude that if one could afford the holiday in the first place and have ultimately paid for it in full, then the purchaser should be able to bear the financial inconvenience until a refund is eventually forthcoming.

I’m not sure currently how close to departure BA are cancelling their flights/holiday packages, but I’ve still got a month to go before I’m due to fly out. I need to know soon so I can cancel my airport parking.

At the moment it depends on the destination. For example - their system says they are restarting flights to Malaga on the 20th May, but some of the Greek Islands are cancelled until July.

Sadly, I think this is only inevitable and doesn’t bode well at all:

If people don’t take vouchers they’re more likely to collapse.

I think the government either needs to take a stake in the airlines or they need to give them the ability to refuse cash refunds, with the government backing the refunds if the airline fails in the end.

BA are probably one of the better financially equipped airlines being part of IAG along with Delta. Small airlines will need government support even more.

I sort of disagree in a way, UK companies can pay staff wages, the government have guaranteed up to 80% upto £2500 a month, so the wage bill of all these airlines will be substantially lower as very few of its ground crew and cabin crew would earn anything over the £2500 a month.

There is also the ability for all companies to apply for substantial loans to cover operating cost shortfalls.

The fact they are airlines, should mean they get any preferential treatment, they are all multi million pound operations, so getting loans to cover a few months, isn’t going to be difficult.

I think the government should give them loans at decent rates as standard though, so there isn’t the struggle of trying to go elsewhere, which sometimes can cause companies to collapse.

It’s important airlines survive, however they should still operate as normal businesses and that means if they can’t fulfill the flight, they give you a refund. I might not want to fly with BA next time, and that is my choice.

Refusing inital refunds with the possibility of legislation forcing people to wait 2 years for a refund if they can’t or won’t take the holiday later, could cause unnecessary financial hardship for people who’ve already forked out the cash. Plus in the intervening period, people can and do die. So, is that then fair to initially force people to accept a voucher when fate might be a factor in them not being able to take the holiday? It’s a bloody harsh thing to say, but ultimately some folk won’t care whether the airline collapses, they’ll just want their money back, especially if they’ve lost their job or they become so unwell that taking a holiday in the future is no longer an option.

It’s a horrible situation for all of the airlines, but some of them are still quite happily taking customers cash for holidays/flights only a month away from take off that they’ve yet to cancel and in all likelihood don’t ever stand a chance of getting off the ground anyway.

Airlines need to explain to a bank why they need the money and that they expect in good faith for business to pick up to good levels, neither of which they can say for the short-term.

Tho government should have the backs of our airlines.

If you’ve forked out for a luxury like a holiday you should have money aside to ensure no financial hardship. It’s not their fault or responsibility that people have bad planning.

If you’ve budgeted to pay for it yes you should pay in full until the flight is cancelled, too.

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A week’s all inclusive holiday to the Middle East costing £2.3k for two people is not necessarily a luxury holiday.

Is it bad planning if someone loses their job because of the pandemic and now needs that money to survive?

I agree with your last point, yes, if you’ve budgeted for it like I have, then paying for the holiday in full is absolutely the correct thing to do. However, attempting to potentially fob me or anyone else off with a voucher for a holiday the company are likely to cancel and which I subsequently might not be able to fit in at a later date because my employer can no longer give me the time off I need at a particular time, is not my fault. I’ve been furloughed and I’m only receiving 80 percent of my wage. Is that my fault? It’s therefore just a bit crass to infer people might have been bad at planning their lives. I genuinely hope you don’t find yourself in a tough situation.

BA will be a much smaller airline coming out of this, so it won’t need the staffing levels it has now. Alex Cruz is eventually saying ‘Were not going to take government money because it makes no difference to us’. You can’t artificially inflate an airline on public money just to maintain all the services or staffing levels - that’s were the finances run away from you.

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Good article in The Times today on this subject.

In case of not being able to read the whole article it basically says banks are breaking the rules by refusing section 75 claims. Their claim that a voucher is sufficient compensation is not true until the government underwrites them.

They technically are, if it was originally a package holiday. As the Refund Credit Notes (as long as the rules are adhered to), will be covered by ABTA and ATOL - so if tour op goes bust, you can claim under ATOL.

However, a tour operator can’t refuse your right of a cash refund.

I certainly don’t disagree with that statement. What irks however, is just how long the customer might have to wait for that refund. If it’s 14 days, great, if it’s two years because you’re forced to initially accept a voucher which through circumstance one may never be able to use, then that’s not so great. There would certainly need to be some clarification regarding that.

A Refund Credit Voucher is only valid for as long as the ABTA or ATOL bond - so for no more than a year, and if you don’t use it you get you money back.

A straight ‘voucher’ isn’t financially protected and you don’t get your money back at the end.

Refunds, although not adhering to the PTR’s, ABTA’s guidance is now ‘within a reasonable time frame’ instead of 14 days. The problem with something like that is some have a different idea of what is reasonable!!

I’d be worried that a voucher would keep me locked to that airline. There’s no guarantee that when things get moving again any new flight would not cost more and that you wouldn’t be better off shopping around again.

Think I’d be tempted to persevere for the cash refund and take the chargeback option if that proved problematic.

My Wife will be dealing with it and she’s got her patter already sorted. Unless the Government suddenly announce legislation in favour of the airlines and prop up their argument to issue vouchers only, we will be insisting on a full refund. At the end of the day, I’ve now been furloughed and so I’m not receiving a full wage, irrespective of the fact I have other income. Going forward, it’s still going affect me income wise, especially if my employer ends up with little option but eventually make me redundant, so getting that money back sooner rather than later, is clearly my preferred option.

I’m sure it won’t actually be a problem when it comes to it, it’s just the waiting we’re having to endure to find out just when BA are going to actually cancel our holiday completely. That could be another 3 or 4 weeks yet, but I’m confident at this stage the holiday will be cancelled by BA.

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And then there’s Ryanair. The legal position on cancelled flights, is still 7 days: