BA ends flexible ‘Book With Confidence’ policy, making flights to places requiring a negative Covid test like the U.S riskier – as vouchers for late cancellations are now scrapped
- The policy was introduced as a temporary measure in March 2020
- It was a response to ever-changing Covid-pandemic travel restrictions
- Passengers could cancel a flight up to an hour before departure for a voucher
- One aviation expert described the scrapping of Book With Confidence ‘a shame’
In a sign that travel is returning to normal, British Airways has reactivated pre-Covid booking rules and removed its ‘Book With Confidence’ policy, which allowed passengers to change flight dates and destinations at no extra cost.
The policy was introduced as a temporary measure in March 2020 in response to ever-changing Covid-pandemic travel restrictions, with passengers able to cancel a flight up to an hour before departure and claim a voucher.
BA announced that the Book With Confidence scheme would not apply to bookings made on or after June 8, but would still benefit passengers with existing bookings made on or before June 7, as long as the flight date is no later than September 30, 2022.
In a sign that travel is returning to normal, British Airways has reactivated pre-Covid booking rules and removed its ‘Book With Confidence’ policy
The rule change means that as of yesterday, a passenger booking a BA flight could be charged a fee for altering or cancelling a booking, unless they have a more expensive flexible ticket.
And they may need to rely on travel insurance for a reimbursement if they’re unable to fly because they’ve produced a positive Covid test for a flight to a country that requires a negative result for entry.
The rule change makes flying to the U.S, for example, much riskier, as inbound passengers must produce a negative Covid result from a test taken no more than one day before departure.
BA said: ‘We offer a wide range of fares to give greater choice to our customers, and the vast majority of our tickets already provide flexibility.
‘If a customer’s flight is cancelled, we’ll always offer them a range of options, including a full refund.’
It added that its booking policies would be reviewed if a country introduces new rules due to Covid-19.
Headforpoints.com’s Rob Burgess said that the scrapping of Book With Confidence ‘seems harsh given pre-departure testing is still required for flights to the U.S’
Frequent flyer website headforpoints.com explains that the resuming of pre-Covid BA booking rules means that non-refundable cash tickets are ‘once again non-refundable’, while Avios tickets can be cancelled up to 24 hours before departure for a fee of £35 per person.
Headforpoints.com’s Rob Burgess said: ‘I was a little surprised that British Airways did not extend “Book With Confidence” a little further, given with the end date of September 30, it was leaving the busy October half-term period exposed – especially as people tend to travel further afield to chase the warm weather and where Covid policy can be harder to predict.
‘It also seems harsh given pre-departure testing is still required for flights to the U.S. Even with the current low levels of infection, one will assume from statistics that a few people per flight will still have to cancel at short notice after failing a test. I’m not sure this is a risk many potential bookers will want to take.
‘This new policy will likely have what presumably is the desired effect of business travellers reverting back to booking more expensive flexible fares, but may inadvertently end up driving away leisure travellers.’
‘Book With Confidence has been around in various forms since early 2020. It’s a shame BA hasn’t chosen the same approach as other airlines such as Lufthansa and some U.S carriers, which have made permanent improvements to their cancellation policies.
‘It may be that British Airways lives to regret this move straight back to its pre-Covid position as quite clearly the world and travel have dramatically changed.’