Why I Keep Detailed Notes When Booking Flights With British Airways Avios & Two Other Avios Tips

On Saturday I reserved some flights on Alaska Airlines and American using my British Airways Avios.

And I did something I promised to do next time I booked Avois – I kept a better record of my transaction.

Why?

I’ve written about why you should always cancel and not change your Avios award flights.  There is supposed to be a $40 fee to change or cancel an Avios flight.  There is an additional $25 fee when you make the change over the phone.  However, if you cancel an Avios reservation online, they’ll only ‘charge’ the taxes you paid up to $40.

Earlier this summer, my wife and I had tickets from Chicago to Toronto, but we needed to change the date of the flight to the following day.

If I cancelled the reservation, I’d lose the $2.50 per ticket that I’d paid in taxes and fees, but Avios doesn’t make you pay more to cancel.  As a result, I was just going to cancel my ticket and then book a new one for the next day.  It was certainly worth $2.50 per ticket.

Unfortunately, we were in Bali, and I didn’t have the full credit card number used to originally book the flight.

In order to cancel a British Airways reservation online, you need the original credit card number.

As a result, I paid $40 per ticket to change instead of $2.50 per ticket.

Lesson learned:

Store all the information securely and electronically on your computer.  Be sure to include your full credit card number.

This time when I made my reservation, I put a secure note (password required) and, in addition to the confirmation number, I also included the full credit card number I used to book the flight.  If there does arise a need to cancel the flight, I know I can do it for the cost of taxes and fees only and not the full $40 per person.

Two Other Avios Tips

While I’m talking Avios, I should let you know a couple of other things I’ve learned this summer.

1.  Be sure to check for the airline ticket number on your booking receipt.  

Earlier this summer, our family was flying from Denver to Toronto, and it turned out that we all had tickets except for my 8 year old daughter.  I had done all the due diligence that I knew to do before that point.  I always call the airline that I’m flying to confirm my tickets.  In other words, once British Airways said I was ticketed, I called American (who I was actually flying) to be sure they had the reservation.  They did.  The problem is that one of the tickets failed to issue.

Fortunately, we checked in early, but it took about 25 minutes on the phone (including hold time) to resolve the issue because Avios had to actually provide the ticket number.  It would have been bad news if the flight was after 8 p.m. EST because that’s when the Avios call center closes.

At the bottom of your email receipt, you’ll notice there is a section where it says ‘ticket number’.  In this case, when we double checked the receipt with our daughter’s flight, we found out that one ticket number was missing from the reservation.

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2.  Don’t pay the phone booking charge of $25 if your flight cannot be booked online.

Several months ago, I booked an Air Lingus flight.  Two days ago, I booked some Alaska Airlines flight.  Those are the only two airlines that cannot be booked online using your Avios.  In the case of the Air Lingus flight, the customer service representative told me that she wouldn’t charge a phone booking fee because the flights were not available online.  However, when booking the Alaska flights, I was told that the total cost was $65.  I had expected it to be $15.  When I asked her to break down the charges, she told me it included two $25 phone booking surcharges.  I informed her that the flights were not available online and that in previous situations the phone booking charge was waived.  She put me on hold and came back online in less than five minutes and confirmed that she could waive the phone booking fee.  If she didn’t give me the answer I wanted, I’d simply have just hung up and called back to talk to another agent.

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