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I have been looking around and I see many question related to flights being cancelled due to COVID-19.

Some questions are about flights with TAP - Air Portugal, British Airways, AlItalia etc. other questions about countries: Netherlands, etc.

I have seen this question and answers:

Can I get a refund for COVID-19 related cancellations?

There is still one thing that is not clear to me.

I will write my case:

I have 3 holidays booked (from a long time ago when we did not know about COVID-19).

The origin of the flights, and my country of residence is England.

  1. The first is to Brazil in August 2020 with TAP - Portugal
  2. The second is to Italy in September 2020 with British Airways
  3. The third is to India in October 2020 with British Airways

My family is me and wife, one boy 6 years old and 2 twin girls born 4-dec-2018 (less than 2 years old).

My question is about the 2 (less than 2 years old girls). I am OK to cancel any of these tickets, but the price for any airline ticket for a toddler (less than 2 years old) is WAY cheaper than the same ticket for a child (from 2 years old on).

If the airlines give me a voucher in money to buy another ticket, I will not be able to buy another family ticket with that money. If they give me instead let's take for instance the ticket to India with the British - instead of the money I paid for the ticket I want 5 ticket vouchers, each values one ticket to India to be booked in 2021 (the girls would then be 3 years old).

I would be happy then. No problem.

Question is:

How can I get a refund of the ticket not the value of the ticket?

Basically I booked 5 tickets to India, I want 5 vouchers of tickets to India, does not matter if this year I am a 2 years old and next year I will be a 3 years old and my ticket would nearly double the price - so to say.

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    Airlines are certainly not under any obligation to offer something like this. Depending on the situation in August/September (whether flights are operating and legal restrictions on travel) and the fare conditions, it might even get difficult to get any refund or voucher. – Relaxed Jun 7 at 16:38
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    Also, a one-year old infant can travel on your lap, a three-year old needs a seat, you can see how, from the airlines' perspective, it might not be the same service at all. Did you book a seat for them this time around? – Relaxed Jun 7 at 16:42
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    It is even possible that the new tickets you buy end up being cheaper than the original tickets! – Michael Hampton Jun 7 at 18:05
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    Sounds like you're asking for a free upgrade. You might be able to haggle that out of the airline, if you'd accept vouchers instead of a cash refund. But then, if the airline goes bankrupt, you get nothing. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 8 at 1:54
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    This approach is impractical because the value of a ticket depends on when you travel among other things. You shouldn't be able to exchange an off-season ticket for a peak-season one without paying more money. – DJClayworth Jun 8 at 17:17
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The exact details can depend on the tickets you've purchased, but as a general rule British Airways has 4 types of ticket based on age :

  1. Infant (below 2 years) WITHOUT a seat. 10% of the standard adult fare.
  2. Infant (below 2 years) WITH a seat. 75% of the standard adult fare.
  3. Child (2-11 years old) WITH a seat. 75% of the standard adult fare.
  4. Adult (12+ years old)

As you can see, if the infant/child has a seat assigned to them, the fare is the same regardless of their age. On this basis, it would appear that the ticket you purchased was for an infant without a seat, or what is often known as a 'lap child' because you or you partner would need to hold the infant the entire flight. In effect, you have not purchased a seat for your twins, which is why the fare is so low.

Lap children are only legally allowed for people up to 2 years old. Given that your twins will be greater than 2 years old when you end up flying, you will be required to purchase a seat, and thus pay the higher price.

It would not be realistic to expect BA to allow your 2+ year old child - for which a seat is legally required - to travel without paying for a seat. If you were to simply change the date on your ticket as you've suggested (keeping the ticket active, rather than the price paid for it), then you would hold a ticket that was not suitable for the 3 year old passengers, and you would likely be denied boarding.

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As far as I am aware you can't (and it wouldn't make sense to the airline to allow that) the voucher you are being given is simply the monetary value of the ticket. (Certainly the case on BA)

If one of those seats cost you £100 for as person as an example and in future if the flight you wish to use the voucher on is triple the cost you paid so £300 for that single person, you will be paying the additional cost of £200 yourself.

These vouchers are not redeemable for the same ticket but only for the monetary value paid.

The wording from BA is: "If you would like to claim a voucher to the value of your booking, please complete the voucher form here. Vouchers can be used as payment, or part payment, for a future booking."

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    That's why it's almost never a good idea to take the voucher. Always demand the full monetary refund. It took me two weeks and over 2000 (yes, two thousand) attempts to contact TUI to get my money back for a cancelled holiday instead of their "voucher", which is only valid for 1 year - but it's well worth it. – Aleks G Jun 8 at 16:05
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    @AleksG I am curious. If you paid a personal assistant to make those 2,000 calls on your behalf, and paid them at market-rate for their time, would you still consider it "well worth it?" As for me, I can't imagine dedicating that much of my own energy to anything worth less than $5K. – jpaugh Jun 8 at 17:47
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    @jpaugh Fortunately (or unfortunately) not. I made the calls myself. Most of the calls were less than 30 seconds long - just enough to press a few buttons on the IVR and get message "Sorry, we're getting a lot more calls than normal and can't take your call. Please call again later..." - after which it would disconnect automatically. A phone lying on my desk - and just keep pressing "redial" easily gives me 155-200 calls a day - for two weeks every day. Once I did eventually got through, it was about 2 hours on hold ("in a queue") – Aleks G Jun 8 at 19:04
  • @AleksG I guess that's not so bad. If paying someone else to do it makes it less worthwhile, it means you're not valuing your own time well. (You could possibly have made even more money by working as a PA for the same amount of time.) – jpaugh Jun 8 at 20:56
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You will need to negotiate with the airline. You want vouchers that allow "Huey, Dewey and Louie" to travel to India at X time. This may actually be the way they are the vouchers, with them being unaware of the difference (but there's probably a note in the fine print like "in the same conditions of the original ticket", which per Doc answer wouldn't apply).

Airlines would usually not want to provide such voucher, since it would not be in their interest to do so. However, nowadays airlines are eager to get their passengers to accept vouchers, rather than needing to pay for all the cancellations in cash. So there is a good chance that they will agree to that, instead of needing to refund your money (specially if it's for a time when they might not expect to fill the plane). Be sure to get in writing all the relevant information, not just some verbal assurance that their age won't be a problem!

And as noted by Harper - Reinstate Monica in a comment, if the airline bankrupts you can expect your vouchers to be worthless.

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    I doubt any airline would issue vouchers like that. I would always demand cash refund. If the airline resists, dispute the transaction with the credit cart. All else fails, you have your travel insurance - right? – Aleks G Jun 8 at 16:07
  • @AleksG I very much doubt travel insurance would help here in any way. Also, it is usually not worth buying. One needs mainly health insurance. – Vladimir F Jun 9 at 10:19
  • @VladimirF Well, it's arguable. I get travel insurance free for the whole family as part of my house insurance, but in other instances, everyone needs to make their own decisions. In the past for me travel insurance was handy when I missed a connection and the airline only reimbursed the cost of the hotel and the meal in the transit city - but not any other related costs - travel insurance picked up the remaining about £100. – Aleks G Jun 9 at 11:41

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