Canceling Flights Booked with Avios

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If you’ve been keeping up with British Airways Avios points, you are probably already well aware of the amazing value those points can provide. However, what happens when you book a flight using your Avios points, and need to cancel? With most US domestic airlines, the points get redeposited into your account and you have to pay a pretty significant fee of about $150. When you book through British Airways though, the fees are extremely reasonable for canceling your flight. This is a huge perk of booking an American Airlines flight with BA Avios points over AAdvantage miles.

A few weeks ago I was looking into a semi-last minute flight and for 4,500 points I was able to fly from NYC – BOS. This same flight using AAdvantage miles would have been 12,500 miles (which I would never have wasted my miles on). 4,500 points for a one way flight is an amazing value, especially considering the flight price. I also wasn’t 100% sure of my plans, so I did not want to pay for a ticket knowing that there was a chance I was going to cancel. When using British Airways Avios points, reservations can be canceled for cheap, so I went ahead and booked the flight. Ultimately, I ended up canceling the flight reservation, got my 4,500 points redeposited back into my account and lost a measly $2.50. Note: This fee across all airlines has increased to $5.60 per segment. 

When canceling a flight booked with British Airways Avios points, they typically charge you $55 per passenger. Still less expensive than other airlines, but why spend the money when you don’t need to. If you cancel online, many of times you will get back the full amount of points redeemed back into your account and the only lost will be the taxes spent. For domestic American Airlines operated flights, this is typically $5.60 per segment. So for a non-stop roundtrip flight you’ll lose $11.20 total per passenger – MUCH cheaper than $55! And the best perk, you do not have to sit on hold waiting for a representative to answer your call!

Also, if you need to change the dates of a flight booked with British Airways Avios points, you are better off canceling and re-booking. When you change your flight online you will still be charged the $55. So instead of paying that fee, cancel the flight (say goodbye to the minimal taxes paid) and rebook the flight. The points typically go back into your account right away so those points should be readily available to book another flight.

If you have gold or premier status with BA, you will pay no cancelation fees, so you might as well call and have them cancel your flight so you get the full amount back for taxes paid. For non-US domestic flights, the taxes you are paying are typically more than $5.60 per segment. This is for all operated flights.

If you are new to the British Airways program, then take a look at this prior series. This will give you the in’s and out’s of using your points and help you realize the best redemption opportunities:

  1. Bonus for the British Airways Credit Card
  2. Earning and Redeeming a British Airways Companion Ticket
  3. Creating a Household Account with British Airways
  4. Top 10 Redemption Opportunities for British Airways Avios Points
  5. Get a $50 Statement Credit with British Airways Credit Card

NOTE: This is not a written BA rule and people have had different experiences, so your might vary as well. My only experience is for AA operated flights, so other operated flights booked with British Airways might be different (i.e., Cathay Pacific). Read the comments section to learn about others people’s experience. However, the BA written rule is $55, so even if you have to pay only $55 per passenger, that is still significantly cheaper than what most other airlines charge!

Comments

  1. The only caveat is that if travel has started (ie you have flown the outbound but not the return) then you won’t get a credit for the points spent on the return if you cancel. So, if you think your return plans may change then book as two one-ways.

  2. Online I tend to get “unable to cancel, please contact us” message. You can never trust your ability to do things online with BA

    • @Robert -yes you can. But just remember, if for some reason you are not able to cancel online and you need to cancel both flights, you’ll be paying $40 per flight.

  3. What is the time frame on canceling? I’ve looked into canceling before, but it looked like if I canceled within 24 hours that I wouldn’t receive any points or cash back, so I’d have to do it well before the day of the flight. Is this correct?

  4. I booked a flight to caribbean recently (st.lucia) but given the crappy flight times and length of travel with a toddler, was looking to maybe switch to Turks & Caicos – I went through the “cancellation options” link under “Manage my booking” page and it told me $40/person -> $120. Still better than 150$pp w/ United I guess

  5. How about Avios + Cash. I’ve booked a flight MIA-GRU for 4 and was wondering if they return the cash spent besides the avios.

    • @Henry – I have not cancelled an Avios + Cash award, but from my understanding as long as you cancel 24 hours + ahead of time, you’ll get refunded both the avios points and the cash paid.

  6. Absolutely love this about using Avios. Makes me feel a bit better about changes knowing I don’t have to have status or pay exorbitant fees for a change.

  7. @Everett
    If you need to cancel a flight which was booked on AA using Avio within 24 hours, you don’t get your points back but you do get your $$$ back. Just call their representative to ask for the $$$.

  8. Hi,

    I am quite confused by your post. In my experience, when I booked short haul cathay flights using Avios, I always got my taxes refunded, but not the $40 booking fee. Even on the Avios site, it says clearly that there is a $40 charge for cancellations made online. Not sure why you are spreading mis information.

  9. I want to change the date on an Avios + cash award but the website keeps telling me to try later. Id rather do it online than on the phone so they wont charge me the $40. Any ideas?

  10. Hello there,
    I used Avios to book 4 one ways award tickets on Air Berlin. Now, because of personal reasons, I need to cancel one of those tix. U think its possible?

    • @Huge – Yes, they will charge you $40 to cancel and redeposit your Avios miles though (which is nothing compared to other airlines). If you do it over the phone they might tack on an addition $25 fee.

  11. I have a two-leg one-way booked with Avios from Dublin to Chicago to Wichita. I now find that I may not want to fly the last leg to Wichita at all due to a change in plans. Do you know if it is possible to cancel and redeposit Avoios for one leg only of a multi-leg itinerary? I’d be willing to pay a $40 fee if necessary since I value 4,500 Avios higher than that.

  12. just to add another data point, i canceled a LAN ticket booked with BA Avios over the phone just now and did not get charged a redeposit or phone fee, just lost taxes. (fwiw i did explain that i couldn’t do it online because i didn’t have the credit card number i used to make the booking [forgot this debit card in an ATM in vietnam…].)

  13. Just wanted to note, I made a purchase using avios points, with my BA companion voucher, and taxes/fees of: 1,382.74

    I was told on the phone I can cancel and get a full refund of taxes/fees + my points, as long as it is within 24 hours. I am charged a $40 fee though, which is A-OK with me.

  14. I have a situation I think ? I booked flight from Toronto to New York City in December. Used the points, my Household account has both my wife and my son. Her cards / everything BUT her passport has my last name. Right now it looks like she won’t be able to board the plan unless she gets a new passport?

  15. This worked but after I cancelled online I had to call BA to put the avios back in my account after 48 hours had passed. But avoided $120 to change a 3 person itinerary!

  16. I booked an AA flight with Avios and changed my frequent flyer number from BA to AA using the finnair website. The booking is now out of my BA account (obviously) and I don’t have access to cancel. I’ve attempted to change back but no go. Anyone have an idea?

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