Cancelled flight? How to understand and use a British Airways Future Travel Voucher

Jun 24, 2020

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If you’ve cancelled upcoming travel booked through British Airways because of coronavirus and its associated travel restrictions, you may have received a credit voucher for the amount you originally spent, which BA calls a Future Travel Voucher. It’s important to note that if BA cancelled your flight, rather than you doing the cancelling, you are legally entitled to a refund rather than a voucher and we would recommend a refund rather than voucher. However, if you did the cancelling, you’ll likely be given one of these vouchers for future travel.

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We’ve had a number of confused readers contact us about how to both understand what they have received and how to use it.

We have spoken to British Airways several times about this, and here are some explanations, and tips.

Related: 8 ways British Airways could improve its Future Travel Voucher process

How do I find my Future Travel Voucher?

Vouchers are sent to customers by email only to the address associated with the cancelled booking. While you will be given what looks like a voucher number for each passenger (starting with ‘125-‘) confusingly, this is not the voucher number. Instead, it is the original ticket number. The reference you will need to use your voucher is the six-digit PNR reference number from your original booking, which is also listed in the voucher email.

These vouchers are not displayed in your Executive Club account, so BA has advised us that the only way to find your vouchers is to check your emails. If you’re having trouble locating your voucher, try searching ‘Future Travel Vouchers’.

This is a less-than-ideal situation, as it means some travellers may forget they even have a voucher if it’s buried amongst hundreds of British Airways promotional emails. You may wish to flag these emails as important or store in a special folder so you can easily find it.

If you have cancelled multiple bookings, you will have multiple different vouchers — I already have four. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to collate them. You might want to consider entering the details into a password-protected spreadsheet or shared document for ease of reference.

What information can I find on my Future Travel Voucher?

Very little. The PNR is the only useful information provided to you by email.

Once you’re ready to redeem the voucher, you’ll have to call BA to do so — which, at this time, is not advisable, given long hold times. Previously, the expiration date of all Future Travel Vouchers was 12 months from the date of the first flight, though as of 28 April, that has been improved so that all vouchers now expire on 30 April 2022.

How much is my voucher worth?

British Airways has advised us that the only two ways to determine the value of your Future Travel Voucher are to:

  • Look up the value of your original booking it relates to, using the PNR in the voucher email. The voucher value is for the same amount; or
  • Call British Airways to ask.

If you are creating a spreadsheet for your voucher details, include the value of each voucher as you calculate it. You cannot look up the value online aside from entering the PNR from the original booking, and the information is also not included in the email with the voucher number.

Related: When is it time to call your airline?

How do I use my voucher?

You can only use your Future Travel Voucher by calling British Airways.

Expect long wait times if you are calling anytime soon, as thousands of other passengers cancel and defer their upcoming travel. You can also use multiple vouchers per new booking if the new booking costs more than the value of the voucher. If your new booking does not use up all the value of the Future Travel Voucher you are using, you cannot use that voucher for other bookings — a new voucher will be emailed to you for the remaining amount. British Airways has told TPG that there are plans to allow online redemptions, but there is no timeline for this.

Several readers have reported they have been quoted higher prices when calling to use the voucher than the ones they can see online. BA confirmed that call centre staff have access to exactly the same fares and seats that you can see online at the same prices, though the airline did note that prices and availability fluctuate frequently.

If the original booking was for multiple passengers, the value of the voucher will be split evenly between each passenger, and each passenger can use their portion to rebook however they wish. All passengers do not have to travel together when they redeem the voucher if they do not want to.

A few passengers walk around the near-deserted departure area at Heathrow airport Terminal 5 in west London on September 9, 2019, as the airline's first-ever pilots' strike began. - British Airways on Monday cancelled almost all flights departing and arriving into the UK, as the airline's first-ever pilots' strike began, sparking travel chaos for tens of thousands of passengers. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

What can I use my voucher for?

Your voucher can be used to travel to any destination in the British Airways network including partner airlines, as long as it’s a British Airways-marketed route with a BA flight number. It can also be used on a British Airways Holiday.

Frustratingly you can only use a Future Travel voucher for a new cash/revenue fare — even if the voucher was issued as a result of a cancelled redemption. This creates a very messy situation where the Avios from a cancelled redemption are held in the FTV (rather than being returned to an Executive Club) but the fees, taxes and surcharges in the FTV must be used towards a new cash/revenue fare.

Related: What are codeshare flights and how do they work?

When does my voucher expire?

All Future Travel Vouchers now expire on 30 April 2022, regardless of when they were issued by British Airways. Like with a Companion Voucher you must book and travel before the expiration date.

Some readers have contacted us to say that while their voucher initially had an expiry date of April 2022, when they used their voucher, the remaining balance had the much shorter “12 months from the original booking” expiry date. British Airways has confirmed to TPG that all balances have the April 2022 expiry date. If you are told otherwise, escalate the point to someone higher.

What happens to my cancelled award bookings?

In line with British Airways’ Book With Confidence policy, award bookings made with Avios can be cancelled for no fee, just like cash bookings. If you cancel a redemption booking without paying a cancellation fee, you will receive the fees, taxes and surcharges you paid when making the redemption as a Future Travel Voucher, as well as the Avios back into your Executive Club account. As per the above, you can only use these fees, taxes and surcharges towards a new cash/revenue fare and not towards a new redemption.

However, you can ordinarily cancel a redemption booking for a £35 per person cancellation fee and receive the fees, taxes and surcharges refunded back onto the card you used to pay for them originally. That has not changed. If you pay the cancellation fee, you can receive a refund back onto your card. If you instead want to avoid paying a cancellation fee, you will receive this amount as a Future Travel Voucher.

Bottom line

I appreciate British Airways had to very quickly develop a system to allow thousands — if not millions — of bookings to be cancelled as its IT systems and staff are swamped with unprecedented changes to how the airline operates. That being said, the current Future Travel Voucher system as it stands now is incredibly customer unfriendly. Between looking through your inbox for the voucher, having to look up the value of it and having to call the airline to use it, there’s a lot of room for error in letting these vouchers go to waste. The airline has solved one original problem by having a fixed expiration date of 30 April 2022.

Related: 8 ways British Airways could improve its Future Travel Voucher process

If you have been issued more than one voucher, I would recommend creating some sort of spreadsheet document and set calendar reminders to piece together the critical information. That way, you can ensure you get all of the value out of each voucher you’re given.

Featured image by Ben Smithson / The Points Guy

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