DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: British Airways canceled my flight from Baltimore to London in 2020. The airline sent me an email that said I could either get a refund or a flight credit and that I had until the end of this year to decide.
However, after calling British Airways numerous times, they claim they don’t have any record of the flight.
I paid for this flight with a combination of miles and cash. I’d like a refund of my 150,000 points as well as the $770 in taxes. Can you help me?
— Louis Hyman, Baltimore
ANSWER: It’s highly unusual for an airline to lose a reservation like this. But a look at your correspondence suggests that’s exactly what happened. You had a ticket, and then British Airways somehow lost it. Now the airline wants to keep your points and the cash you paid for other taxes and fees.
Normally, you would be able to send British Airways proof of your reservation, and it would then fix the problem. I see that you tried to send the airline copies of your reservation, which included all the information it would have needed to track down your missing ticket.
What happened? Look at the calendar. This was a pandemic reservation — one of hundreds of thousands. There were special refund rules for them, and if I had to guess, I’d say there was a special department within the airline that handled these refunds.
Anyway, British Airways got its wires crossed when you asked for a refund. I thought it might have erased your ticket because the flight was more than three years ago. Most airlines retain ticket data for at least 10 years, but they may move older ticket data to an archive database, where it can be more difficult to retrieve.
It’s clear that you had a valid ticket and that British Airways canceled your flight. A brief, polite email to one of the British Airways executives I list on my consumer advocacy site might have helped. You have all the essential information for getting a full refund. You have ticket receipts and all of your correspondence, where you tried to resolve this problem through the airline’s regular customer service channels. It’s a slam dunk.
I reached out to British Airways on your behalf. A representative contacted you and apologized for the loss of your tickets.
“Due to the age of this record, it was purged from our system,” the agent explained. British Airways referred your ticket to its refunds team, who retrieved the purged data.
“They have confirmed that a full refund of all taxes paid has been processed back to the original form of payment,” the representative said. You also received a full refund of your points.
Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at email@example.com or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help/.(c) 2023 Christopher ElliottDistributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.