Discount For No Checked Bags on Short Haul British Airways Flights

Sep 11, 2013

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British Airways imposes some ridiculous fees on its passengers including seat selection fees that regularly top $100 and fuel surcharges that can cost flyers over a thousand dollars on some trips, and it’s not alone since airline ancillary fees have risen across the board in the past few years. However, BA is giving some of its passengers some relief since it announced today that it would be discounting tickets for flyers who are not checking bags.

Starting September 24, passengers from London Heathrow to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paris, Rome, Rotterdam and Stockholm will be able to claim a £10 ($16) each way on the lowest discounted tickets when they do not check bags.

The airline is already displaying the hand baggage only option.
The airline is already displaying the hand baggage only option.

Although the airline is spinning it as a discount, another way of looking at it is that passengers who purchase the lowest discount tickets on these routes but who want to check bags will end up paying $32 roundtrip per bag of up to 23kg, sort of like they would with a discount carrier like Easyjet or Ryanair. However, the £10 fee is the same as Easyjet’s for a checked piece of luggage and £5  less than Ryanair would charge you.

The airline already put this policy in place for short-haul flights from Gatwick and will implement it on certain routes from London City Airport (LCY) to the same destinations as Heathrow.

British Airways is not expected to change its long-haul flight baggage policy where economy passengers are allowed one free checked bag of up to 23kg.

I think it’s interesting the spin the airline has put on this – that it’s actually discounting low economy fares even further if you don’t check bags rather than operating the other way around, which is to price out the lowest possible fare and then make flyers select add-ons including checked luggage. But if the fares it’s advertising are the same as competitors and it’s actually discounting further from that, then this is a net positive for flyers.

However, based on one quick example, this is not the case. For instance, British Airways will charge you 78.54 GBP roundtrip from London Gatwick to Glasgow in October if you take the discount no-luggage option:

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 12.40.01 PMOn the same dates, you can find a fare on Easyjet – with just carry on allowed – for a full 10 GBP ($16) less!

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 12.41.19 PMSo I’m not convinced just yet – though I do think it’s a good thing that the airline is at least unbundling a service, checked baggage, that many flyers on these routes might not be taking advantage of and offering them slightly more competitive pricing on tickets.

This is definitely something to take into consideration if you’re flying into or out of London (or flying there from one of the select cities where these fares are available) on a Europe trip where you won’t have checked bags since you can now think about taking BA and earning miles on your Oneworld carrier of choice rather than having to take a discount carrier where you won’t earn any miles. Although the amount of Avios you earn on BA short-haul flights on discount economy fares can be pretty tiny, at least BA doesn’t ding you with a ton of other fees like a bag drop fee at the airport or at the gate, or advance seat selection on all tickets (with BA, Executive Club elites and even non-elites get seat assignment reservations opened up to them ahead of time for no charge, as do full-flex fare ticket holders).

And as for not taking checked bags – I try never to have to check a suitcase since things go wrong all the time.  After the Twitter war the airline got into with one irate passenger who bought sponsored tweets to excoriate the airline for losing his bags last week, you might not want to check anything with BA for a while either!

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