Cancel British Airways Flights Without a Fee | Still Alive

I recently cancelled a British Airways flight, and a part of the cancellation process had changed since the last time I cancelled a flight.

Short Story:

In case anyone else has noticed this change, I wanted to mention that despite the fact that the process is different, in my case, the end result was the same.  I received a full mileage refund, did not pay the full $40, and only lost what I’d paid for in taxes and fees.

Long Story:

In the middle part of last year, I booked a May flight for our family of five from Los Angeles to Maui.  At 12,500 Avios per person, we felt like that would be a great use of our Avios.  While we preferred to fly out Saturday morning, the only flight they had available with five seats was the Friday night flight.  Knowing that we could book the flight and later cancel them by forfeiting the $2.50 per person taxes, I went ahead and made the booking.  In the end, we paid the $12.50 ($2.50 per person) and the 62,5000 Avios.

At the same time, I also set an Expert Flyer seat alert.   A couple of weeks ago, I was notified that the Saturday morning flight from Los Angeles to Maui now had five open seats.

However, when I went to the British Airways cancellation page, I saw a message that I’d never seen before.

There was a notice with something to the following effect:  You can cancel your flights and they will be reviewed by British Airways and then the Avios will be redeposited.  Previously, British Airways would have a confirmation page that gave a detailed invoice of how many Avios would be refunded and all the fees changed.

When I saw this message, I was worried that British Airways implemented this new language and process in order to avoid their no fee cancellation loophole.

British Airways charges $40 to cancel or change a flight.  However, in the past, this fee is only removed from your actually booking cost.

Example #1: You book a domestic US flight and pay $2.50 in taxes and fees.  When you cancel the flight, British Airways will return the miles but keep the $2.50.  They will not, however, charge an additional $40 to cancel the flight and reinstate the miles.  Most importantly, they will charge a $40 fee if you’re going to make a flight change.  As such, my advice is always to cancel a British Airways flight instead of changing a flight.

Example #1: You book an international flight and pay $56 in taxes and fees.  When you cancel the flight, British airways will return the miles but keep $40 of the $56 paid.  As such, you’ll only get $16, and British Airways gets their $40 by withholding that portion from your refund.

That’s why I was concerned to see the note about British Airways manually reviewing a cancellation.

Regardless, I decided that I’d go ahead and make the change.  Of course, I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to pay $200 (5 x $40).

Here’s a part of the message that I received from British Airways when they confirmed my cancellation request.

Thank you for your request for refund.
The Avios due to be refunded to your account are detailed below.
Regrettably, I must advise you there is no cash refund due against your
ticket(s) as the service fee British Airways applies for processing a
refund application was more than the refund amount due.
Please note that British Airways can apply a service fee for processing a
refund. If a fee has been charged, this will appear below.
Fare/Taxes USD 12.50
Cancel Fee (deducted) USD 0.00
Channel Fee (Deducted) USD 200.00
Total amount refunded USD 0.00
Avios 62500 (To Be Refunded)
Thank you for booking with British Airways.

I added the bold section to some of the text above.

About a week after the confirmation of refund email, I still had not received the miles back in my account.  I feared the worst.  I thought they might try and hit me up for the cancellation fee before giving me my miles back.  However, all I had to do was call British Airways to let them know the miles did not post, and the miles were redeposited into my account.

Have you had to cancel a British Airways itinerary lately?  Were you charged the cancellation fee?


  1. Mary says

    We used our American airlines miles to book a flight from Chicago to Milan. Imagine my surpise when it cost 400.00 plus the miles!!! We were put on British Airways with a layover in LHR. We prebooked and paid for our seats. A few months later I found a better flight with less layover and canceled the British Airways flight. We now are flying Chicago to Duseldorf and paying 150.00. I called British Airways to have my money refunded for my seats and they are saying NO, What a crappy policy. Beware if you pre purchase your seats. This really stinks.

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