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British Airways / will fleece you if your travel plans change

1 United States Review updated:

My wife and I have flown in BA many times between India and the US. We never had to change the booking till now. This time my wife has to come back early from her trip to India.

This is when I realized that BA has unreasonable terms of service in the ticket. I booked the ticket through an online travel agent (Orbitz). I did not notice that hiding behind a 'fare rules' link was a long fare basis code in all-caps that said 'CANCELLATIONS ANY TIME TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE.'

Most international flights can be canceled for a fee of $50-200 for a full refund. I was able to cancel my Air France ticket for $200. BA does not refund anything for cancellations. I wonder why anyone will cancel such a ticket.

They do not let you change flights before you fly - because only the travel agent can change the ticket. The travel agent gave me a quote for $3400 to change the return leg one month in advance. It costs only $1000 to book a new one-way ticket from India to US. Unable to change the tickets, the Orbitz rep kept forwarding me to BA, and the BA rep refused to handle any changes to the ticket. Finally, I bullied one of the reps to give me the phone to the manager, and the manager said that I could change the ticket once my wife flew the first leg.

My wife flew to India hoping to change the return ticket. Now the customer service reps in India's BA offices have excuses ranging from 'there are no tickets available from London to Boston in July' to 'our computer network is down'. I am trying to change the tickets from the US and I'm getting the run-around too. They have forwarded my 'request' to a 'pricing department' that takes 48 hours to come up with a rate for changing the tickets.

Unfortunately, I have no option but to wait for 2 days. In all likelihood they are going to take all the money ($1800 round trip) and probably ask for $1000 more to book another ticket. I will probably book a new one-way ticket from India in another airline and let the other return ticket go to waste.

I realize now that there is no such thing as a 'sure plan', and it makes no sense to go with an airline that is inflexible. I typically fly twice a year to India on official business and my wife flies once a year. We will never fly in BA again. We will also make it a point to warn our friends and colleagues about their 'KICK 'EM WHEN THEY'RE DOWN' fine-print.

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  • Je
      18th of Jun, 2008
    0 Votes

    British Airways do, in fact, allow tickets to be cancelled for a full refund but only if you book a fully flexible fare in otherwords you pay the full ticket price. It would appear that on this occassion you, or rather your travel agent, booked the cheaper option of a non flexible ticket which cannot be cancelled.

    Maybe you should have read the t&c's in full before allowing your agent to confirm the booking.

    You can argue forever that BA or your agent was to blame but at the end of the day you are the only person responsible for not reading the small print properly.

  • Ja
      18th of Sep, 2008
    0 Votes

    Next time, don't book an ultra cheap ticket with Orbitz. If yo do, make sure you read the terms. If you want flexibility, you need to pay a bit extra. Airlines aren't charities.

  • Oh
      18th of Nov, 2008
    0 Votes

    So, you say the rules on the ticket you purchased were 'hiding' in all cap letters under the fare rules link? Why didn't you look first?

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