Two-Minute Travel Tip: How To Call British Airways For Free

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If you have ever had cause to call British Airways Executive Club, you will no doubt be all too familiar with the seventh circle of hell your mind enters as you wait… and wait… and…

ba executive club status

The ‘soothing’ voice repeatedly telling you that anything you need can be sorted out on the website, when it definitely can’t (hence the call!) is my personal highlight, but others prefer the ‘relaxing’ sounds of BA’s own classical guitar version of “The Flower Duet” (from Leo Delibes’ opera, Lakmé – in case you’ve ever wondered):

I’ve spent so much time over the years (usually early in the morning when BA have inexplicably cancelled my flight) listening to that piece of music, that even just the opening bar produces a Pavlovian jolt of instant stress!

If you do have to call British Airways, after about 30 minutes of waiting (I can’t remember ever waiting for less than that), what remains of your mind might begin to wonder how much the call is costing.

Yes, to truly add (financial) injury to insult, you get charged 7p per minute for the privilege of waiting to speak to someone. The fact that BA doesn’t employ enough customer service staff, has a website that lacks key functionality, and may or may not have just cancelled your flight, is completely immaterial.

british airways
Your flight? Well it could be if they picked up the phone!

7p per minute might not sound like all that much, but you’ve got to take into account that your call can easily take well over an hour, depending on how bad the wait is.

Paying a company £4.20 per hour for wasting your time might appeal to some people, but I suspect it’s likely to remain a minority interest.

I can’t help with the waiting times (I really wish I could – seriously, if anyone has any tips, please let me know!), but I can help with the cost.

British Airways Executive Club lists two main phone numbers for customers from the UK:

  • The usual number is 0844 493 0 747. This is the number that costs 7p per minute.
  • The other number is supposed to be for when you are away and need to call from abroad, +44 191 4907901.

Note that the second number is actually just a local number (Newcastle area?) with the UK country code tacked on the front.

ba call centre
The entire customer service team

Therefore, you should be able to use that number and pay local rates simply by dropping the +44 and adding a 0 instead, so 0191 4907901.

If you try that though, the BA ‘soothing’ voice tells you that the number you have called can only be accessed from abroad and that you need to call the 0844 number instead.

The solution is to simply to add 141 to the start of the number when you dial, as this stops BA’s system knowing where you are calling from.

The number to use is: 141 0191 4907901

Being a local UK number, many people will be able to call completely for free on their landlines if calls are included in their package, and anyone who gets free/included minutes as part of their mobile contract can use their minutes.

So next time you need to call British Airways, as painful as it sometimes is, at least you won’t have to pay!

Bonus Tip

The British Airways Executive Club call centre in the UK is only open from 07:30 to 20:00, which isn’t ideal if you’re in a different time zone or have an early/late flight that gets cancelled.

They do have other offices around the world that are open at different times, but finding out what is open when and how to contact them can be surprisingly difficult.

Fortunately, a character named ‘Dunk’ over on the US-based travel forum Flyertalk created the BA Contact Finder page. The Contact Finder is extremely easy to use and instantly tells you which offices are open at any given moment and how to contact them – thank you ‘Dunk’!

Comments

  1. Ian says

    I’m sure I tried the 141 + overseas number trick before and it didn’t work, maybe something changed? There are other options:

    Using the very useful,. but not exactly ‘contemporary’ design website, Saynoto0870 which maintains a crowd sourced list of alternative geographical numbers for many companies.
    This link (http://www.saynoto0870.com/companysearch.php) takes you to the search page, where you can enter the expensive number 0844…. or the company name.

    There are a *LOT* of entries for British Airways, but I have had success before now with the numbers listed for silver or gold members, and they are 0800 numbers (I am only a Blue member, and once you get passed the initial welcome message, I suspect you get to the same bunch of people) YMMV, but the worst that can happen is they refuse to help you and you have to re-dial.

    If you have a BA branded Amex, call them (it’s free) and select the Avios option from the menu, that gets you through to BA too.

    I seem to recall reading somewhere of an Ofcom ruling that companies shouldn’t make customers pay premium rates to call them, and just after that Virgin changed their customer service number to 03 numbers. That ruling obviously passed BA by?

    • Joe Deeney says

      Thanks for the additional info Ian!

      I can confirm that the 141 + overseas number trick still worked from my mobile and landline as of yesterday.

      Saynoto0870 is a fantastic resource, but you’re not wrong about its somewhat retro style… I’ve never actually tried the 0800 numbers for members with status before, so didn’t want to write about them, but it’s good to hear they work.

      The BA branded Amex tip is a great one (and one I genuinely had no idea about)! Some mobile contracts don’t include 0800 numbers in the included minutes (in which case it’s best to use the 141 number in the post), but from a landline (particularly if you don’t have calls included as part of the package) that’s ideal.

      Cheers!

  2. Ian says

    Oh forgot one more option, book a First class flight, then you get a freephone number to call, but it’s probably cheaper to pay the £4.20/hour!

    Don’t really see the logic in that, those who have paid £000’s for their flight, wouldn’t want to pay for a phone call??

  3. Ian says

    The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 were published by BIS on 13 December 2013 and came into force on 13 June 2014. Regulation 41 requires retailers, traders and passenger transport companies to use numbers starting 01, 02, 03 or 080 for after-sales enquiries and issues. This includes, amendments, upgrades, downgrades, cancellations, refunds, complaints, etc. Calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers are inclusive in allowances else charged at “geographic rate”. Calls to 080 numbers are free-to-caller on landlines and on mobiles.

    In offering a premium rate 084, 087 or 09 number, in this case an 0844 number, BA appears to be in breach of the regulations.

    The cost of calling the 0844 number is not 7p per minute. The actual cost is 7p per minute plus an Access Charge of up to 55p per minute.

    In cases of non-compliance, Regulation 41(2) gives callers the right to a refund of any excess call costs incurred over and above whatever an equivalent call to an 01, 02 or 03 number would have cost.

    Complaints can also be directed to the Citizen’s Advice national Consumer Helpline on 0345 404 0506. They can escalate to Trading Standards where necessary.

    BA does advertise an 0344 number for some, but not all, functions. This does not go far enough.

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