British Airways, Virgin baulk at refunds as UK tells travellers not to fly

FILE PHOTO: British Airways planes parked at Terminal 5 Heathrow airport in London | AP/PTI
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways aren’t offering refunds to passengers who cancel year-end trips because of new UK coronavirus rules, even as regulators investigate airlines’ earlier refusal to hand cash back to customers caught in lockdown.

IAG SA-owned BA will grant ticket holders a voucher or let them switch to a later date, it said. It said it will only refund fares if the airline cancels a flight, a policy echoed by Virgin Atlantic in a Twitter post.

The refund issue ignited a firestorm when similar curbs were in place last month. The UK Competition and Markets Authority launched a probe last week into whether airlines violated consumer rights by failing to offer passengers their money back for flights they couldn’t lawfully take.

“Some airlines like EasyJet have mostly been doing the right thing and offering refunds, while others like BA only offer the option of a voucher or a rebooking,” said Rory Boland, travel editor at consumer advocacy group Which?. “The CMA invest­igation is looking precisely into this, as the wording for Tier 4 restrictions indicates these are legal requirements, not guidance so you should be due a refund.”

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