Yikes! British Airways Says “No Refunds” For China Flights

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There’s the high road, the low road, and then there’s British Airways which just decided to run off the side of the cliff.

As we all know, the coronavirus is taking its toll on the global economy: stocks, manufacturing, trade, hotels, etc. However, there’s no denying that airlines are receiving the brunt of the hit, due to the uncertainty and fear caused by it.

In some circumstances, airlines have cut 600+ daily flights, and asked ~20,000 employees to take unpaid leave to deal with the current challenge.

For the most part we’ve seen airlines and hotel chains offer reasonable change and cancelation policies. However, British Airways just took it to the next level…an unfortunate and disrespectful level.

As noted by Head for Points, British Airways changed their policy for China flight refunds yesterday and it’s mind-blowing.


Yesterday British Airways changed their schedule for mainland China and Hong Kong flights to:

  • All flights to Beijing/Shanghai have been canceled through 04/17/20
  • Between 04/18/20 – 05/31/20, limited flights will resume – 3x weekly to Shanghai (PVG) and 4x weekly to Beijing (PEK) and;
  • The two daily Hong Kong flights have been reduced to one daily flight through 06/01/20

Obviously, that can change because coronavirus continues to change everyday.

With that new schedule change, British Airways also updated their refund policy for flights to Beijing (PEK), Shanghai (PVG), and Hong Kong (HKG).

Up until yesterday, British Airways’ policy for Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong flights, was as follows:

  • For travel through 06/01/20, those on canceled flights were offered a full refund, rebooking on another flight/airline, or rebooking for later travel, through 08/01/20
  • For travel through 06/01/20, those on flights that were NOT canceled still had the option of getting a refund, or being rebooked for travel on a later date, through 08/01/20

Let’s focus on that last bullet point because now if you are on a flight to & from China that isn’t canceled, you can no longer receive a refund, but can only use the ticket credit towards another flight to any British Airways destination, and you’ll pay whatever the current fare is.


Personally, I think this is unfair because there are one of two situations taking place:

  1. If you’re originating in China, passengers face major restrictions with traveling to other places, including 14 days quarantine, so rebooking may not be the most practical idea
  2. If your destination is (or was) China before the outbreak happened, does that imply that you want to travel somewhere else? I would argue, that it doesn’t.


Personally, I don’t have much to say about this because I think this is low. I understand that airlines are in a vulnerable position but that’s business and this would not fly (no pun intended) in any other industry.

Fortunately, most airlines are making reasonable concessions with travel changes as a result of coronavirus but I’m curious…

What do you make of this decision? Do you think British Airways is being reasonable in this situation?

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