Save, make, understand money

Household Bills

Flyer fury as British Airways extends pandemic voucher deadline

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

British Airways has extended its eVoucher scheme by a year, and while many have praised this move, others are outraged as they claim they were forced into ‘panic buying’ any flight to meet the original deadline.

The airline has started emailing customers to let them know it has extended the eVoucher deadline by 12 months from 30 September 2023 to 30 September 2024.

This means travel must be completed by this date, not booked by this date.

These vouchers were issued to customers rather than cash when flights were cancelled during the height of the Covid pandemic.

It comes as its parent company IAG last month revealed it had €600m of unused eVouchers.

At the time, the group wouldn’t commit to an extension, but Rob Burgess, editor of the UK’s biggest frequent flyer website HeadforPoints, said expiring these vouchers “would not have been a good look”.

This is because many people opted for the eVouchers in a bid to ensure the airline didn’t go bust as sales across airline groups slumped amid the successive lockdowns.

He said: “Whilst you could argue that people have now had a long period of no Covid restrictions to rebook, many will have been putting it off due to the current high fares.

“It is very unlikely that you could book the same trip today with an eVoucher based on 2019 flight prices.”

‘Useless trips booked in panic’

Burgess added that many readers have been in touch to say they feel BA has “left this too late” as they’ve already panic-spent their vouchers on trips they didn’t really want to take before 30 September “purely to use them up”.

One reader wrote: “They prompted everyone to spend vouchers by Sept 23…almost forcefully. But in true BA style they extend it by a year. I used mine on a useless trip, but can’t change it now.”

Another posted: “I agree. If I’d known I had an extra year, I would’ve spent my vouchers differently.”

Meanwhile another HfP reader posted: “Damn! I booked a flight with an e-voucher rather than a 2-4-1 also expiring on 30/9/23 because the e-voucher was ‘real money’ lost.”

And this BA customer wrote: “Much like others I have recently used mine for a weekend in July simply to use it.”

However, others have welcomed and praised the move by BA to extend the eVouchers.

One person commented: “You are actually complaining that the e-vouchers have been extended. Wow! Gift horse and mouth come to mind.”

This flyer posted: “Excellent news and the correct decision, I now need Virgin Atlantic to do the same.”

And this poster wrote: “That’s good. I’d even forgotten a voucher for €600+ that I have… completely forgot!”

Flexibility to book flights

A British Airways spokesperson, said: “We were the first UK airline during the pandemic to offer customers the unprecedented flexibility to change their plans by providing them with vouchers for future travel. To give customers greater flexibility they now have until 30 September 2024 to use their voucher.”

YourMoney.com has asked BA if there’s any ‘legroom’ on eVouchers already used by passengers on unwanted flights. We’ll update this story once we hear back.

We have also been in touch with Virgin Atlantic to find out if it has any plans to extend its voucher scheme beyond 31 December 2023.