BA is introducing a new ‘basic fare’ on 10 routes from London.
Passengers who choose it will no longer be allowed to check-in luggage for free, or decide where they want to sit. BA says that as a result these tickets will be up to £60 cheaper than the standard return fare.
The new fares will be offered on flights to Austin, Boston, Delhi, Denver, Dubai, Hong Kong, Oakland, Philadelphia, Punta Cana and Singapore.
With the basic fare, passengers can pay extra to check in a bag, from £80 return, while seat selection will cost from £20 each way. They will also be served a meal during flights and they’ll be allowed to take two items of hand luggage on-board, with a weight limit of 23kg for each. BA’s partners American Airlines and Finnair are introducing similar fares.
Competing with Norwegian?
The change sees British Airways move closer to the model of its low-cost rivals. All of the routes being trialled, apart from Delhi, Hong Kong and Philadelphia, are also operated from Gatwick by Norwegian, which already has a similar ‘basic fare’. This is despite the fact that BA’s parent company IAG has just bought a 4.61% stake in Norwegian and is considering making a full offer for the firm.
Virgin Atlantic also introduced an ‘economy light’ hand-luggage-only ticket last month.
British Airways was criticised in Which? Travel’s most recent airlines survey, with members rating it particularly poorly for value for money. In recent years the airline has removed its free food service from short-haul flights and added new seats to some of its long-haul routes, reducing passengers’ space.
In response to the survey BA said that it was investing £4.5bn in new aircraft and interiors. It also says that the new tickets will give passengers more choice.
BA’s chief commercial officer Adam Daniels said: ‘We know that when our customers travel with us their needs vary from trip to trip, some will be flying on business, some for leisure, some will be on short hops, others will be longer stays. We need to ensure that the fares we provide reflect those differing needs so customers can select the best option for them on that occasion.’