Cancellation Without Representation – British Airways Cancels Business Class Award Flight

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Earlier this year we booked an ultimate award trip with British Airways and American Airlines. The ultimate golf trip, a once in a lifetime trip for the Weekly Flyer family gents to where the game of golf began. We’ve been very excited and busy tweaking the flights as availability opens up until today, when everything seemed to have fallen apart with our return award ticket.

At booking, we slept well that our flights were ticketed on both American Airlines and British Airways across the Atlantic. Our itinerary had us flying in First Class on American and Business Class British Airways.

Since this is a trip of a lifetime, we’ve been staying on top of ticket changes using simple methods, like checking our reservation at the American Airlines website and monitoring emails. But today, things changed for the worse and we didn’t receive any notification.

Cancellation Message From AA

Today, we noticed that the American Airlines website was showing the following error.

American Air flight cancellation

So we called them up to find out what the problem was.

Outbound Ticket Routing

The original outbound ticket was still intact. No changes to the First Class award from Orlando to Miami through London to Manchester in First Class. So we’d get to Manchester in time for our first round at the Royal Birkdale golf course, a regular host to the British Open.

Return Ticket Routing – British Tyranny

The return flight is where it got bad. British Airways changed our flight to a day earlier which meant we’d miss our reserved date to play at St Andrews Old Course, the most famous links in all of golf.

For anyone that plans a golf trip to Scotland, you know how lucky you feel when you get confirmed to play a course on a specific day, especially the Old Course at St Andrews. It isn’t like you can just change a date of play for a specific golf course. So we were in trouble if we couldn’t get a later flight.


We were shocked when we found out that British Airways cancelled the afternoon flight for our return. British Airways cancelled the afternoon flight from LGW to MCO and didn’t even inform us of the change. Instead, they changed our return flight to a completely different day which would impact our ability to play the oldest course in golf.

Tyranny…. This cancellation without representation will not stand.

American Airlines Steps Up

Since I booked the award with American Airlines I gave them a call to explain the situation and see if they can help resolve the problem. They agreed that the flight should not have been re-booked on a different day.

There is plenty of availability on AA metal (with double connection) and there is an actual British Airways flight just a few hours earlier on the same day and same route. So American Airlines sent a “message” to British Airways requesting availability on the same day flight which is just a few hours earlier than our original departure time.

If we can’t get on the earlier same day British Airways flight, we’ll simply move to the same day American Airlines (double connection flight) that has plenty of availability.

Bottom Line

American Airlines handled the situation very well. It is just plane tyranny that British Airways cancelled the early afternoon flight and booked us on a completely different day when there is plenty of availability on the same day earlier flight.

This one isn’t over yet. Stay tuned for updates on how this one plays out…


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The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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  1. I think you title and whole rant is misrepresenting the issue at hand. The fact AA had to go to BA to get the seats means that point seats were not available and so when they rebooked you they put you on a flight that had available seats. Also they quickly addressed your issue which is normal. AA did something similar to me a while back but I had booked everything through BA and BA had to make the changes.

  2. Hi Jeff – Thanks.

    Hi Darrell – I disagree. They cancelled my flight, didn’t inform me, and I had no say in what flight they rebooked me on. As a result, they cut my trip short by one day which didn’t work because that would have cut out our play at the St Andrews Old Course. Thanks for reading.

  3. As the booking agent and issuing carrier, any notice of change should have come from American Airlines. If your tickets were re-issued that should have generated an e-mail, I’d be surprised if one wasn’t sent actually, although it likely wouldn’t have flagged that there wa a change — it would have shown your new itinerary, and it’s easy to miss that the dates would have been different.

    This will certainly all get sorted, hopefully you’ll be in BA’s business class on the earlier flight since that’s a much better hard product than business on American (although I actually prefer American’s food, for what it’s worth).

  4. Did you put a note in your booking, or did you expect BA to read your blog to know about your golf reservation?

    In case of a cancelation, pretty much any airline system will rebook you automatically. If you don’t like the result, just call back like you did and ask for a change that suites your schedule and don’t make a rant with irrelevant details about it.

  5. How frustrating! Am sure it will work out but it’s a cautionary tale to check check check your reservation.

    I believe it was AA’s responsibility to notify you of the change in this case, as they are your agent.

    Good luck!

  6. Hi Gary – I’m sure it will get sorted out. I was just caught by surprise that my family members and I weren’t notified until I checked the website. I even searched all email folders in multiple accounts on the record. I guess it was a technical glitch that automatically rebooked me onto the same flight, just a day earlier instead of rebooking me on a same day flight at a different time.

    Hi Eager Traveler – Agree, I monitor awards up until departure.

    Hi Lack – Yeah…. Actually, I didn’t have to put a note in my BA account because BA “Knows Who I Am.” <-sarcasm

    Unfortunately I had to fire my award booking assistant because they didn't inform me when the CEO of British Airways called me to ask if they could cancel the flight, DYKWIA 😀 <-sarcasm

    Hi Srptraveller – I'm sure it will get sorted out. When I called AA and noted the issue, they had to research it a bit, then the agent seemed very surprised at what occured. I think this was either a very recent change or a technical glitch that AA wasn't aware of.

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