I was due to fly to Cambodia on 3 April. I booked the trip with travel agent TravelUp and the flights are with British Airways.
Due to the coronavirus, I am now longer able to travel, but BA still haven’t cancelled my flights.
Last week, I attempted to contact TravelUp and BA as well as my insurer, Nationwide Building Society, for information.
Nationwide are the only company I could get through to. It said I should wait until the flights are cancelled and they won’t speak to me about compensation until my flight is 48 hours away.
BA are offering a scheme where customers can a voucher in place of their upcoming flights
However, BA is currently offering a ‘book with confidence’ scheme by which it is offering you the chance to cancel your flight if you are due to travel between 14 March and 31 May and get a voucher for the value of your flight within the next 12 months to a different destination at a later date.
However, the terms and conditions say I must have booked the flight directly via BA or through a trade outlet in order to be eligible.
Will I be able to get my voucher as I booked through TravelUp? Is there any chance of getting a cash refund instead?
Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: Tough new measures were put into place across Britain in a bid to stop the coronavirus with the Prime Minister announcing a lockdown of the country.
All Britons have now been ordered by the Government to come back to the UK if they are abroad whilst those who are in the UK have been told not to leave.
As such, most flights abroad have been cancelled or postponed to later in the year.
One of the emails that BA are sending to customers about upcoming flights
Despite this, you received an email from BA this week saying your flight to Cambodia should be going ahead and it was looking forward to welcoming you onboard.
This is concerning as it suggests that the flight is due to go ahead as planned, even though there is a global pandemic in which people are advised to not leave the house, let alone travel halfway across the world.
However, many flights are still going ahead for repatriation purposes.
Although you have precautions in place, should your flight have been cancelled or delayed, you are now concerned about how you will get compensation from BA.
BA’s new ‘book with confidence’ scheme says that those who are due to fly with BA between now and 31 May 2020 can cancel their booking at no charge and will then be emailed with a voucher to the value of their booking.
The voucher can be used as payment for a future booking to any destination, on any chosen dates.
BA said that if a customer’s flight has been cancelled, they should call the airline to discuss their options where they can opt to rebook, have a refund or choose to take a voucher to fly at a later date.
Ideally, like many others, you would like a cash refund, but would accept the voucher BA are offering as you will likely rebook flights later in the year.
However, BA advised that those who booked through an online travel agent will need to contact the agent to discuss their options, rather than BA.
This means you will need to speak to TravelUp, as opposed to BA, to sort out your compensation and any changes to bookings.
Many passengers will find their flights still aren’t cancelled, despite the ongoing pandemic
Unfortunately, TravelUp decided to ‘suspend’ all its phone lines and is asking customers who need help to contact it through its online form.
Whilst it is understandable that businesses are having to downsize at the moment, it is not particularly helpful for those who are due to be travelling soon as they need immediate advice.
Rob Burgess of Head for Points replies: BA is only cancelling flights close to departure because it doesn’t want to overwhelm the call centres.
For most people, the sensible thing to do is NOT to take the voucher but to wait for BA to cancel the flight. At this point, a full cash refund is due.
For non-cancelled flights, only a voucher is on offer. Once a flight is cancelled, you have the choice of cash or voucher. BA is still running a surprising number of flights, mainly empty going out, for repatriation.
At times like this, the problems with booking with an online travel agent become clear.
Your reader does not have a contract with BA, she has a contract with TravelUp.
BA will not deal with her directly even if she did manage to get through to the call centre.
She can get a refund – or, when the flight is cancelled, a cash refund.
However many online travel agents have clauses in their terms and conditions to impose fees on processing refunds and vouchers, which the reader would not have had to pay if she’d booked direct.
A spokesperson for TravelUp replies: Our team have been in contact and highlighted the two options available.
The first being a cash refund that would that would have our reduced Covid-19 administration fee levied against it or a full refund in the form of a voucher to be used against any airline with any travel date in the next 12 months.
We apologise for the difficulty faced in contacting TravelUp however we have been inundated since the break of the virus.
Many of our forward customers are naturally anxious about their bookings and our team are taking a large number of enquiries from customer travelling in August and beyond.
This in turn was stopping the team prioritising those customer with time sensitive departure dates.
Therefore we took the decision to channel enquires through our contact us form that allows the team to easily prioritise those customer in the most urgent need.
Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: TravelUp have since replied and said you can have a cash refund, minus a £65 admin fee, or a voucher to rebook flights with.
Whilst you would rather take the cash, the £65 admin charge seems excessive, which is making you lean towards accepting the voucher.
You are now checking to see if there is anyway you can claim the admin fee from your Nationwide insurance policy.
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