British Airways Introduces Fares Without Checked Bag – Becoming No Frills Airline?

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British Airways has introduced fares out from London Gatwick to Amsterdam, Jersey, Dubrovnik, Turin and Tunis on a “trial” bases starting on travel from February 26, 2013. Previously, the airline has advertised being a full service airline with no add ons required for checked bags and on board refreshments even on short haul routes.

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Thing to note that this only affects the above five routes from London Gatwick on a trial base. If this trial is successful, I wouldn’t be surprised this to spread to all shorthaul destinations server from Gatwick and eventually from London Heathrow as well. There is very little information that you can find about this trial on BA.com. Here’s link to a PDF that is aimed for travel agents that tries to explain the rationale behind this decision.

british-airways-bags-charge-gatwick

British Airways is claiming that they are NOT charging for bags, but rather that they have only introduced fare base that doesn’t include this option and lowered the fare. I believe this when I see it.

Air France just launched a HOP! Subsidiary, which fares do not include bag. KLM, part of Air France-KLM, shortly followed and will start charging for even the first bag on most European routes. All Flying Blue and SkyTeam Elite and Elite Plus members are exempt of these charges.

If you buy a bag only fare from British Airways, there are no exceptions for not having to pay for the bag. It doesn’t matter if you are BA Silver, BA Gold or hold similar status with any other Oneworld alliance carrier. You are required to pay for the bag.

Oneworld Emerald Status Holders Extra Bag Benefit?

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Oneworld alliance didn’t used to have a luggage allowance benefit for its top tier frequent fliers. This was just introduced on February 1, but now these BA “bags only fares” are excluded from this benefit. Wonder how long it is going to take for other airlines to get exceptions as well?

oneworld-extra-bag-benefit

Cabin bag allowance

BA still allows you to carry a rather heavy black 22 and a computer bag free of charge on board. The combined allowance is 23 kilos per BA.

What is my hand baggage allowance?

All customers are allowed to carry one item of hand baggage plus a laptop or handbag. A 23kg maximum bag weight applies, which means that customers must be able to lift the bag unaided into the overhead lockers. Laptops and handbags should be able to fit underneath the seat in front.

Here’s the new price display for Gatwick to Tunis BA RT

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The outbound has this new bag only option and it is 16 GBP less than the bag inclusive one.

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On the return, however, there is only option with the bag available.

Conclusion

It must be very difficult for BA to compete with the Easyjets and Ryanairs of Europe that don’t offer all inclusive pricing. Personally, I don’t tend to fly with airlines that nickel and dime their passengers.

Although BA is calling this a “trial”, it is not that difficult to see this spreading wider that just these five flights out of Gatwick.

Here are the frequently asked questions about these fares by BA:

How does the hand baggage only fare work?

The hand baggage only fare means our customers bring no hold baggage, but are still able to benefit from our generous hand baggage allowance and take one piece (plus a handbag or laptop bag) on board. The new hand baggage only fares will be available for selected direct European (including domestic) flights to and from London Gatwick and will start at just £39 one way. These fares will not be available on any flights with connections and may not be used via London Heathrow or London City airports.

Customers will be able to purchase the hand baggage only fares via ba.com, which now offers both hand baggage only, and the standard fares for customers with bags to check in.

When does hand baggage only start?

Hand baggage only fares will go on sale on 19 February 2013 for travel from 26 February 2013 on the following routes: Gatwick to and from Amsterdam, Jersey, Dubrovnik, Turin and Tunis.

Other Gatwick shorthaul routes follow at a later stage. The fares apply to shorthaul routes operated by British Airways with a BA flight prefix, and are not available on flights operated by franchise or codeshare partners.

Does this mean British Airways is charging for bags?

No, British Airways will continue to offer shorthaul economy fares including a checked baggage allowance (one item at 23kg). Hand baggage only fares provide an additional lower cost choice for customers who do not wish to take checked baggage.

What is my hand baggage allowance?

All customers are allowed to carry one item of hand baggage plus a laptop or handbag. A 23kg maximum bag weight applies, which means that customers must be able to lift the bag unaided into the overhead lockers. Laptops and handbags should be able to fit underneath the seat in front.

How do I know what my baggage allowance is?

When purchasing a hand baggage only fare, ba.com or travel agents will advise customers of the bag allowance. Ba.com e-ticket receipts will also show a zero piece (0pc) baggage allowance.

Can I purchase hand baggage only fares on longhaul flights?

No, these fares are only available on selected shorthaul flights to and from London Gatwick.

Can I purchase hand baggage only fares from London Heathrow or London City?

No, these fares are exclusively available on selected British Airways flights from London Gatwick.

Can I purchase hand baggage only fares one-way?

Yes, Hand baggage only fares can be purchased for a single or return trip.

Can I purchase a hand baggage only fare if I am travelling out of Gatwick and returning into Heathrow?

No, these fares are exclusive to customers travelling to and from London Gatwick on British Airways flights.

If I am connecting from a shorthaul flight to a longhaul flight at Gatwick, can I purchase a hand baggage only fare on the shorthaul sector?

No, these fares are only available on direct journeys.

Can I purchase a hand baggage only fare if I only need to check a bag in, in one direction?

The best option for you may be to purchase the standard fare. However, you may wish to purchase a hand baggage only fare and then purchase excess baggage for £20 via ba.com/managemybooking in one direction.

Can I purchase a Hand baggage only fare if I am travelling with my family and we won’t all have bags to check in?

The best option for you may be to purchase the standard fare for your entire party, as this provides all customers with a one item baggage allowance. Alternatively you may wish to purchase Hand baggage only fares and buy the excess bags that you require.

If I am travelling as part of a large group, can I purchase hand baggage only fares?

These fares are not available for Group bookings (above nine customers). The standard fare which includes a baggage allowance should be purchased for all Group bookings.

I am a Gold Executive Club card holder and normally get an additional baggage allowance when flying in economy, will this apply if I purchase a hand baggage only fare?

Gold and Silver customers will continue to have a minimum two item baggage allowance when purchasing standard fares (which include a baggage allowance). If a hand baggage only fare is purchased then the zero bag allowance will apply.

Will I earn Avios and Tier points when purchasing hand baggage only fares?

Yes, normal Avios and tier points will apply.

Can I upgrade to Club Europe if I have bought a hand baggage only fare?

Yes, by paying the difference in fare and any other charges applicable.

What can I do if I have bought a hand baggage only fare but now need to check a bag in?

The cheapest option is to purchase a one item baggage allowance for £20 via ba.com/managemybooking. The £20 applies to the first bag only. Subsequent bags will be charged at the normal excess baggage rate.  At the airport the normal airport excess baggage rate will apply for all bags.

Can I book hand baggage only fares for Unaccompanied Minors (UM)?

Yes, hand baggage only fares can be purchased for Unaccompanied Minors.

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