My Experience Cancelling Aeroplan and Avios Flights During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Cancelling my Aeroplan and Avios flights because of the Coronavirus pandemic has been a disappointing and frustrating experience. I was really looking forward to my upcoming trip to South America to see Easter Island as well as visiting Argentina and Brazil. Not to mention my follow up trip afterwards with stopovers in Lebanon, Mozambique, and Manila. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be and I had no choice but to cancel all my Aeroplan and Avios flights.

VIDEO – My Experience Cancelling Aeroplan and Avios Flights During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Cancelling Aeroplan flights online

My first set of flights that I had to cancel was my Aeroplan mini-RTW in South America. On the Aeroplan website, they mentioned that if you cancel your bookings by March 31, 2020 (Aeroplan just extended the complete refund policy to April 30, 2020), then you are eligible for a full refund for both your miles and taxes.

So off I went to the website. To my luck, I was able to cancel my Aeroplan mini-RTW going to South America on March 20, 2020. It was then mentioned online that it will take up to 10 business days to get my refund. Lucky for me, my Aeroplan miles have been deposited back in my account by March 28, 2020. I’m just waiting for them to refund the fees that I paid for this booking.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to cancel my second Aeroplan mini-RTW going to Lebanon, Mozambique, and Manila. For that, I had to call the Aeroplan call centre which we all know can be a frustrating experience.

Cancelling Aeroplan flights by calling the Aeroplan call centre

On March 20, 2020, I also phoned in the Aeroplan call centre to cancel my second Aeroplan mini-RTW. We were also cancelling my girlfriend’s Aeroplan mini-RTW booking as well. It took us 2 hours and 45 minutes to get through the call.

The lady working at the call centre was friendly. Quickly, she was able to put my girlfriend’s bookings request for manual cancellations. However, during my call, out of nowhere, the call dropped. You can see how upset I was when this happened. Especially after waiting for almost 3 hours to get through the line!

Thank god a miracle happened. The lady called back my girlfriend’s cell phone and was able to request manual cancellation for my booking as well. She told me that I need to wait 2-3 months before I can get my Aeroplan miles and taxes refunded. So now we are playing the waiting game to see when we can get our miles and taxes refunded back.

Cancelling my Avios flights by calling the Avios call centre

First attempt

On Sunday, March 29, 2020, I tried calling the British Airways Avios call centre to cancel all our flight redemption for South America. I was really sad to cancel because one of the bookings was a rare redemption to fly to Easter Island.

As I tried to get through calling the North America line, I was informed by the pre-recorded message that all calls have now been consolidated to one number (877-767-7970). This is due to the Coronavirus pandemic congesting the call centres.

The operating hours have also changed to British time. This means when I called during the afternoon, their call centre is already closed. The new call centre hours were now from 2 am EST to 4:45 pm EST. This is equivalent to 11 pm PST to 1:45 pm PST (my time zone).

Second attempt

I then waited until it was 11:30 pm PST until I made another attempt to reach the British Airways Avios call centre. This time, it took 25 minutes to get through the call centre and I’m always pleasantly surprised at how much more efficient the Avios call centre is at processing this sort of request.

We had a total of 6 redemptions that we had to cancel and the man that was helping us was relatively patient with us. After about 30 minutes talking to him on the phone, he was able to cancel all our flights and our Avios points were deposited back to our account immediately. However, only the cancelled flights in our itinerary qualified for an immediate tax refund. For flights that are not yet cancelled by the airlines themselves, the man helping us said that we may or may not be eligible for a tax refund as per the British Airways Avios policy.

He told us that he will put in a request to get us refunded but he said there’s a 50% chance it won’t happen.

We thanked the man for helping us and we are now hoping for the best that we would get refunded.

Why we cancelled over the phone

Another option was to cancel our Avios flights online. The problem was, cancelling it online will not get your Avios refunded back to you. Instead, they will issue you a flight voucher instead. We didn’t want the voucher because we might not want to fly those flights anymore. By calling the call centre, we can get our Avios back for use towards future bookings.

Conclusion

While it’s terrible that we have to cancel our flights, I’m also happy that we got it done. There’s a lot of uncertainty about whether we would get our miles or taxes back. We are hoping that Aeroplan pulls through and we get our refund within their promised time frame of 2-3 months.

We are also hoping that we will get our refund back from Avios. But, we aren’t holding our breath for that one.

From this experience, it seems that Avios is becoming a stronger program than Aeroplan for Canadians. Moving forward, as I learn how to use the Avios Multi-City Carrier method, I may start making more redemptions with Avios as oppose to Aeroplan.

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