British Airways is planning to add up to £240 to the cost of a return long-haul flight if passengers want to check in an extra bag.
On each flight passengers will face a £120 bill per extra bag on long-haul trips. There will be a £60 fee per extra bag on European journeys and £30 on domestic flights.
Many passengers are only expected to learn of the new charges, being introduced from Tuesday, when they check in at airports next week.
The airline claims the fees will simplify its charge rates and in some cases may be cheaper for customers.
Under the changes most customers will be able to put a bag with a maximum weight of 32kg in the hold – but only in a single item of luggage. This allowance will be cut to 23kg after September 30.
Anyone who spreads the weight over more than one bag will be hit by the extra charge. The fee applies even if the combined weight of the two bags is below the limit.
A BA spokesman said: “British Airways has absolutely no intention of discriminating against passengers who cannot comfortably carry a 23kg bag.
“Where it is clear that a passenger cannot manage one bag, we will let them check in an additional bag, or more, provided the total weight is within the 23kg limit.
“Our free luggage allowances, for both carry-on and checked-in luggage, remain among the most generous in the aviation industry.
“Many other airlines offer smaller free allowances and charge for additional items such as skis, golf bags or other sports equipment.”
Until September 30, passengers will receive a discount if they pay in advance online – the extra charge per bag will be £168, £84 and £42 for return long-haul, short-haul and domestic flights respectively.
However, paying in advance – through BA’s website – is not available on certain routes, and some credit cards cannot be used as payment methods.
Passengers will be able to carry one piece of sporting equipment, such as a golf bag, on to the plane as well as stowing one bag in the hold.
Flights to America, Canada, the Caribbean, Nigeria, Brazil and Mexico will be exempt from the new charges to bring its new excess charging policy “in line with the local government regulations”, according to BA’s website.
Passengers to the US, the Caribbean, Nigeria, Mexico and Brazil will still be able to check in two pieces of luggage free of charge.
Passengers flying First and Club Class on long-haul flights can check in up to three bags free of charge.
Those flying Club Class to Europe can check in two bags free of charge.
Infants will be allowed to check one bag, plus a collapsible baby buggy and a car seat, into the aircraft hold free of charge in all classes on all routes.
Present charges vary according to weight, route and class of travel and 98 per cent of passengers travel within their free luggage limit.
The spokesman said: “In the vast majority of instances, the new policy will be cheaper or comparable for customers who wish to fly with excess baggage on top of their free allowances.”
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