British Airways won’t give me proof that my ticket was nonrefundable


After a terrorist attack in London, Kelly Bukaty cancels her British Airways flight. But her travel insurance company won’t reimburse her airfare without proof that her ticket was nonrefundable. Can our advocates help Bukaty get British Airways to provide documentation to resolve her insurance claim?

Question: I booked a flight to London on British Airways. After the terrorist attack on London Bridge, I canceled the flight during conversations with British Airways booking agents. Although they promised to email me a confirmation of the cancellation, I never received it.

I then filed a claim with my travel insurance company for the airfare. The insurance company is asking for a letter on British Airways letterhead, confirming the flight number, dates, and nonrefundable status of my ticket. I have asked British Airways to supply one, but the airline hasn’t provided it.

The clock is running out on the time necessary to send my insurance company all the documentation they are requesting to process the claim. Can you help me get British Airways to send me the letter my insurance company is requesting? — Kelly Bukaty, Lake Forest, Ill.

Answer: I sympathize with the loss of your trip because of your desire to cancel your flight after the terrorist attack.

But your case underscores the importance of keeping documentation of your transactions with companies for big-ticket purchases, such as airfares. If you’re conducting business by telephone, it’s especially important to request written confirmations of your transactions.


Without written documentation, as you discovered the hard way, you may not be able to get reimbursement for your costs, which could result in the loss of significant prepayments (as in the case of a flight cancellation). And it is important for you to follow up with the company if you don’t receive documentation promptly. Otherwise, you’re out of luck if the company or your insurance carrier denies your claim for reimbursement.

Related story:   This traveler says that her flight was canceled. But was it?

Your insurance company’s demand for proof on the airline’s letterhead is unusual. It was necessary because you didn’t have a paper trail of your interactions with the airline’s personnel. But it wasn’t British Airways’ responsibility to provide you with such a letter, which may be why British Airways hasn’t provided it.

When the email confirmation British Airways’ agents promised you didn’t arrive, you could have followed up with the airline’s customer service before filing your insurance claim. Alternatively, you might have been able to get the proof of cancellation you needed by logging into British Airways’ website.

You also could have used our executive contacts for British Airways to escalate your request for the letter, but you asked our advocates to help you get the proof you needed that your flight was nonrefundable.

Our advocates reached out to British Airways on your behalf to secure the proof you needed that you had canceled your nonrefundable airline ticket. You notified us that British Airways provided the proof your travel insurance company needed to process your claim, and that you are awaiting the insurance company’s response. We hope it responds soon with reimbursement for your airfare.


Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org.

  • Alan Gore

    Is there a standard notification that an air reservation has expired worthless, which would be proof to an insurance company that a trip was not taken and that no (or partial) credit was given on the reservation? That “written statement on company letterhead” request would normally be a last resort if there were no automated way of getting the information.

  • Lindabator

    Print out the ticket receipt – clearly shows the nonrefundability of a ticket, as well as the ticket cost lost

  • Alan Gore

    That would show the initial terms of the ticket, but what if the flight was delayed and the pax took a refund or a credit?

  • MarkKelling

    I was thinking the same thing, but unfortunately that does not show if the pax received a travel voucher/credit for the flight they could use at a later date. I do think the request for something on letterhead paper by the insurance company was a bit extreme. I would think an email directly from the airline that is traceable would be enough.

  • cscasi

    I am fairly certain the insurance company can go to the airline and by providing the ticket number, find out whether the ticket was cancelled, partially used or any credit was issued.

  • Annie M

    And this is exactly why the insurance company won’t reimburse first.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    “I do think the request for something on letterhead paper by the insurance company was a bit extreme.”

    Based upon this “It was necessary because you didn’t have a paper trail of your interactions with the airline’s personnel.”, it seems like the OP didn’t have a paper trail. A person can easily fake an e-mail especially in a chain of e-mails. I have seen it at least 10 times. Unless British Airways sent the e-mail directly to the insurance company, the insurance company could have doubts if the person was double dipping, etc.

  • Pegtoo

    Question: In a situation where a voucher is given, do you have to wait til it expires to seek insurance reimbursement? (assuming there was NO use of voucher/funds)

  • Michael__K

    I can’t speak to British Airways, but no, ticket receipts don’t necessarily show that.
    AA shows it, but looking through ticket receipts emailed to me by other carriers, they don’t generally disclose whether the ticket is refundable or non-refundable.

  • Lindabator

    The insurance company can clearly see the terms and conditions on the ticket – such as ticket number, class of service (which lets them know if refundable category or not), and do so regularly – since she had nothing by email to give them, they would require more information – which could have easily been retrieved with a receipt

  • Michael__K

    The receipts do generally include the record locator and e-ticket numbers which could potentially be used to contact the airline to get the information. But then why didn’t they just ask her for her record locator or ticket number(s) if they were willing and able to follow-up with the airline themselves?

  • John McDonald

    yes what’s so hard about doing this ?

  • The Original Joe S

    Another BA story…………..

  • fairmont1955

    I will say this, I do like how all of these articles include the ways the travelers don’t bother to explore before they punt it onto this team to fix their issue. No wonder people have so many issues – many don’t have comprehensive problem solving skills.

  • joycexyz

    Or its just easier to get someone else to do it.

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