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

Apr 18, 2020

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If you’ve canceled 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 canceled your flight, rather than you doing the canceling, you are legally entitled to a refund rather than a voucher. However, if you did the canceling, you’ll likely be given one of these vouchers for future travel.

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 spoke to British Airways about this and here are some tips.

Related: Rebooking, voucher or refund? What’s your best option for upcoming British Airways flights?

How do I find my Future Travel Voucher?

Vouchers are sent to customers by email only to the address associated with the canceled booking. A different voucher will be issued for each passenger (to the lead email address), so if you are canceling a booking for two passengers you should receive two vouchers.

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 frustrating situation, as it means some travelers may forget they even have a voucher if it’s buried among hundreds of British Airways promotional emails.

If you have canceled multiple bookings, you will have multiple different vouchers — I already have six. 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?

About the only useful information in the voucher email is the voucher number, which begins with 125, followed by 10 unique digits (i.e. 125-1234567890). The email with your voucher does not show the value of the voucher or the expiration date. It does show the original booking reference number (PNR) that the voucher represents.

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. You’ll have 12 months to use the voucher from the date of the first flight in your original booking.

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, just to add an extra layer of complexity, you cannot use that voucher for other bookings — a new voucher will be emailed to you for the remaining amount.

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.

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

When does my voucher expire?

Unlike a Companion Voucher that shows up in your Executive Club with a clear expiration date, you have to work out the expiration date of your Future Travel Voucher by looking up your original booking using the PNR in the voucher email. The voucher expires 12 months after the departure date of your original booking. And like with a Companion Voucher you must book and travel before the expiration date.

I would recommend setting calendar reminders for the date that is three months before the expiration date of the voucher, and then another reminder for two months before so you don’t forget to book and travel before it expires.

What happens to my canceled award bookings?

In line with British Airways’ Book With Confidence policy, award bookings made with Avios can be canceled 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.

However, you can ordinarily cancel a redemption booking for a $44 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 canceled 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, remembering the expiration date and having to call the airline to use it, there’s a lot of room for error in letting these vouchers go to waste.

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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