I am aware that flight cancellation and refund issues are generally covered by the specific conditions of carriage associated with the ticket. My question has to do with British Airways in particular however if there is reference for where it is extended for airlines traveling to the UK and USA it would be helpful.

I have a funeral to attend in London on the 22nd and 24th of this month. As most are aware, UK has been hit four times by violent terrorists within the past three months including thrice in the last two weeks alone leading to the threat level in London being raised. It was raised after the first attack to the highest level, and then lowered after which the second attack happened just yesterday. The USA has also issued travel warnings for UK.

The US has issued warnings to its citizens about travelling to the UK and continental Europe this summer. An update from the State Department, issued on Monday evening, warned that Isis and al-Qaeda ‘have the ability to plan and execute terrorist attacks in Europe’

Is one allowed to cancel flights to the destination without penalty in events like this? Is there some general legal precedent establishing this, i.e. a terror attack as a material event? I am asking more for precedent than opinion.

UPDATE: June 4th

Malaysia Airlines has told customers they can get a full refund for any flights booked to London over the coming days in the wake of Saturday’s terror attacks

London terror attacks: Airline offers full refund on flights to London in days after attacks

For the Brits who seem strangely indignant or upset about this question, this is not and has never been a question about whether the USA where I live is safer than London/UK. The statistics are abundantly clear on that and known to all.

  • 2
    Where are you travelling from? In which country did you buy the ticket? Refund regulations are highly likely to be different in different jurisdictions. Do you have travel insurance? That may also cover refunds even if the airline doesn't. Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 11:43
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    I doubt you will be able to rely on the threat level as a factor. The current threat level is severe, and it has been at severe since 29th August 2014 except for four days from 23rd - 27th May 2017. Presumably when you booked your ticket the threat level was severe. In that sense nothing is any different right now.
    – JBentley
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 14:34
  • 1
    "Malaysia Airlines has told customers they can get a full refund for any flights booked to London over the coming days in the wake of Saturday’s terror attacks." uk.news.yahoo.com/…
    – jcaron
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 6:48
  • Not much use to you on June 20 though even if you were somehow flying on MH
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 10:14
  • 1
    I don't think it does at all. You asked about your rights, not whether there's a possibility the airline will issue a travel waiver
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 11:03

2 Answers 2


In general airlines are not obliged to give a refund if you cancel voluntarily, whatever the reason. It is true that some airlines do offer refunds voluntarily under circumstances like this. British Airways is unlikely to do this because it would imply that they believed traveling to Britain was dangerous, something they are unlikely to say.

Even if there is official advice to not travel to a country, airlines rarely offer refunds if they are still flying there. Your travel insurance would normally what pays out under those circumstances.


It is not unheard of. There is some precedence for this, although typically initiated as a courtesy by the airlines.

Amid Terror Threat, Can I Call Off My Trip to Europe?

After the attacks, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines waived some change fees for flights to France for a limited time. They didn’t offer refunds, except for canceled flights, and there’s no assurance that they will waive change fees for a future attack.

Brussels Attacks

American Airlines canceled flight 751 from Brussels to Philadelphia and said it would make new arrangements for those travelers. The airline reported no injuries to its workers. American is offering alternative travel plans for passengers booked Tuesday and Wednesday to request a refund, choose another airport or reschedule their flight through April 5.

  • This does not answer the question, as it is is only very tangentially related. In both the cases you quote, it was not about passengers refusing to fly but about to carrier cancelling flights, which is a very different situation.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 20:44
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    @SJuan76 No, the change fee waiver mentioned in the first example was not due to cancelled flights. These types of waivers are common for airlines to issue when various kinds of situations arise, ranging from security issues to expected bad weather to problems with the airline's IT systems. While, in this particular case, they only offered refunds in the case of actual cancellations, they waived change fees for other flights (meaning you could change dates, fly somewhere else instead, or just use the ticket's funds within a year to fly somewhere else.)
    – reirab
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 4:00

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