British Airways lost my airline ticket. Can you help me find it (and get a refund)?

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By Christopher Elliott

British Airways lost Louis Hyman’s airline ticket. The airline canceled his flight and promised him a ticket credit or refund. Where is it?

Question

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 have no 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

I almost didn’t believe British Airways lost your airline ticket. But a look at your correspondence suggests that’s exactly what happened. You had a ticket, and then British Airways somehow lost it. And 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. (Related: Road Scholar refund: She wants her business class ticket back.)

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.

What happened to this lost airline ticket?

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 is more difficult to retrieve.

AirAdvisor is a claims management company. We fight for air passenger rights in cases of flight disruptions all over the world. Our mission is to ensure that air passengers are fairly compensated for the inconvenience and frustration caused by delays, cancellations, or overbooking.

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, in which you try to resolve this problem through the airline’s regular customer service channels. It’s a slam dunk. (Related: British Airways refund disaster: I’m still waiting for my pandemic ticket refund!)

You contacted my advocacy team for help. 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.  (Related: British Airways refund disaster: I’m still waiting for my pandemic ticket refund!)

British Airways referred your ticket to its refunds team, which retrieved the purged data.  (Here’s how to win a credit card dispute.)

“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. (Related: Why won’t Expedia refund our missing flight leg?)

About this story

This may be the final pandemic travel case my advocacy team and I will mediate, so this one was special to all of us. It took a lot of digging to find out how airlines handle old flight records, but fortunately, British Airways was cooperative and helped us find a solution. Speaking for all of us, I’m happy to put the pandemic behind us and move on. it’s been a difficult few years. This story was researched and advocated by Dwayne Coward, written by Christopher Elliott and edited by Andy Smith and his team. Dustin Elliott did the abstract illustration.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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