Cancel, Don’t Change British Airways Avios Award Flights

Over the last year, there have been several occasions where I’ve needed to make an adjustment to an award flight that I booked with Avios.  I guess that’s because I’ve got an entire truckload full of Avios from their generous sign up bonus (currently up to 100,000 Avios).

Unfortunately, Avios posts pretty bad fees for changing or canceling an itinerary:

Date change = $40 fee

Cancel and redeposit Avios = $40 fee

If you do it on the phone, you’ll add another $25.


I had an Avois booking for later in the year and needed to make a change.  It reminded me of something quirky about British Airways.

Cancel, Don’t Change British Airways Avios Award Flights

Here’s what it looks like if I cancel my itinerary and redeposit the Avios:
avios award cancellation

When I go to cancel my ticket it doesn’t cost me anything, but I will lose out on the taxes and fees that I’ve paid ($2.50 per person).  In other words, when you cancel with British Airways online they won’t come looking for any money, but they also won’t refund what you’ve already paid.  I’ve done this three times in the last year, and every time I haven’t had to pay to cancel and repurchase my tickets.  If, however, you pay taxes and fees in excess of $40, they will withhold $40 from the amount you refund.

When it comes to an international itinerary, $40 is a very reasonable cancelation fee compared to other airlines.

Here’s what happens if I try and change the date of my flight:

Avios Award Change

Now, if I try and change the flight to the next day, British Airways wants to charge me $80.00 ($40 per person) to make the change.

No, thank you.  I’ll just cancel the reservation and lose my $5 and then rebook the flight.  I’ll always pay $5 instead of $80 when given this option.

I don’t know if this is a glitch or if this is how British Airways wants this to work, but I thought you’d like to know that canceling your domestic award ticket and rebooking is always a smarter move than paying the fee to change a date.


  1. SgFm says

    Thanks for this. I haven’t needed to do it yet, but I’m sure I will need this info at some point, since we still have a bunch of Avios in our family :-)

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