New British Airways hand baggage policy (ie less) and boarding plan announced

You may have noticed that British Airways has been carrying out a number of trials at Heathrow over the last few months to smooth the boarding process.

Fundamentally, there have been three issues (as I see it):

The introduction of the Bronze tier means that there are too many passengers who qualify for priority boarding.  On peak business flights the priority queue is bigger than the standard queue.

The introduction of ‘hand baggage only’ tickets has encouraged people to save money by not checking in a case and bringing a disproportionate amount of luggage into the cabin

The introduction of another two and a half rows of seats has added a huge number of extra bags on full flights

Overhead locker

This is what is changing:


Boarding will be done by cabin and by Executive Club status.  Non-status passengers will then board by seat row number.

Hand baggage

This is likely to be more contentious.

The size of your second piece of hand baggage is being cut.

Your second item must now be no larger than 40cm x 30cm x 15cm unless you are travelling in First or Club World on long haul.  There is no exception for Club Europe on short haul.  The previous limit for the 2nd item was 45cm x 36 cm x 20 cm.

The first item limit is unchanged at 56cm x 45cm x 25cm with a 23kg weight limit.

The second item MUST be placed under the seat in front of you.  It will receive a yellow tag at the boarding gate and must not be placed in an overhead locker unless you are sat on an exit row or in Row 1.

If you second item of hand baggage is larger than 40 x 30 x 15 then it will NOT be accepted onto the aircraft and must be placed in the hold.  Tough luck about that expensive new handbag you bought.

If your second item meets the size guidelines above then you are guaranteed to be able to take it on the aircraft.  If the overhead lockers are full, passengers will be selected to have their main piece of hand baggage removed and placed in the hold.

Implementation of these changes will be rolled out over the next few weeks.

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  1. This is a good policy, sick and tired of people carrying in their all house on the plane!

  2. Sussex Bantam says:

    OT – has anyone had any success with the Air Italia status match ? I keep getting rejected because the “original card is not clear/missing”. This despite me sending a PDF of my gold card downloaded from the BA site. Any tips ?

    • Yes it took me a few attempts but finally got it (through to March 2017 :D) – they seem to really just want a scan of the physical card itself, website statements and app BA card screenshots didn’t seem to do it.

    • Since Alitalia has been mentioned, has anyone managed to get any sense out of Etihad re Alitalia redemptions please?

    • Henrik says:

      I got a correct status match from baec silver though it took 2 weeks and I provided both card copy and statement screenshot.

    • I sent my card details in and got an email last week apologising for the delay as they were swamped with applications. Still waiting.

  3. I always avoid Row 1, and always pick Row 3. You get overhead locker space, in Row 1 it’s a bit more limited and the crew often seem to take it, also there is no seat in front to store that 2nd bag. Also Rows 1 and 3 are served at the exact time for the drinks service. This is for domestic, First Class is a different matter! As I type this I am wondering if a post on BA seat rules/policies may be useful to readers, e.g. Seats 1A and 1K in First are blocked for Gold, but then become available at online check in, the first 6 rows of domestic are blocked off for Golds until T minus 72 hrs.

    • James67 says:

      Same here, I always try to get 3C or D on domestic. On BKK route which I fly most often I always go for 1D. it is a 772 3class so this is front row next to closets with no adjacent aisle seats which begin row 2. Toilets are other side of galley so no issue there. Some noise from galley before main meal but it’s minimal. As far as CW seats go, it is as good as it gets for solo travel. A few times cabin crew try to reseat me saying I will be disturbed by galley but I lways refuse. I suspect they want it for themselves but are too polite to push the issue. On my upcoming KUL flight I just took aise seat at front on CW cabin. Somehow hoping for op-up but doubt it.

  4. Ross Parker says:

    I have flown 50+ European shorthauls across BA, Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines, Swiss, Easyjet and a couple of others. The only flights on which there was not a bunfight for overhead space was Easyjet, which is the only one of the airlines that takes a hard line on carry-on luggage. It made boarding a much more pleasant experience. And given boarding is roughly 15 minutes vs a typical 1h15m flight, the improvement is quite noticeable. Also, I pity the cabin crew on some flights who have to continually explain that bags within ridiculously high limits simply cannot fit on board, and the aggro they get as a result.

  5. chantelle says:

    Im not sure if this i the right place to post this, but i bought one of the business class fares to Hong Kong that you mentioned a few weeks ago.

    It says im allowed 3 x 32kilo bags, i was wondering how strict BA is for business class holders on the number of bags, ie if i have 4 bags, but the weight is the same. There is no loyalty card attached to this booking.

    Also the handluggage was 25 kilo, is this different now? Im planning on taking A LOT of stuff.

    Thanks in advance

    • Fairly strict but 32kg is a lot – my 7 year old weighs that ….

      • chantelle says:

        actually its not the weight as i know already i have almost the 93 kilo, its the number of pieces im worried about. I am bringing over all the items for my babies nursery so i will have a lot of weight, but i think it will be more than 3 items.

        • It’s definitely the 3 bags at max 32kgs per bag, but make sure each bag is within the maximum,. They won’t let you have one heavier than the other eg one at 36kgs and one at 28kgs. It’s a health and safety issue also. Then you got your hold bag too. Hope you manage it all.

        • chantelle says:

          thanks 🙂

    • Whatever it states on your ticket is what you are entitled to. These new rules are just coming in. Enjoy your flight, ESP if it’s one of those bargain club world ones!

      • chantelle says:

        thanks 🙂 yes it was a great deal! And seen as I need to take SO much luggage then the BA is a great option. Cathay business only allows for 1 x 32 kilo bag so even in baggage alone its a great deal!

  6. The amount of luggage that people take into the cabin is very annoying and probably not safe.
    It is especially annoying as we were recently charged excess weight on hold baggage although our two bags were within the sum of the limits for two people!

  7. Another smack in the face for Club Europe…

  8. The same thing happened on Lufthansa when they changed the short haul seats to ones with a 1cm thick backrest and packed in a few more rows. They soon had to control the hand luggage more strictly since they had added more seats but no extra cabin storage space (they also took out wardrobes to pack in extra seats). I don’t know how effective the policing of this was though, I cut my lufthansa flights from 20/year to about 2/year due to the micro thin seats.

  9. MrHandBaggageOnly says:

    One of my biggest frustrations with fellow passengers at boarding time are those who believe that (as they rushed on to the plane first) the space above their head is for their bag(s) and the space alongside that is for their coat.

    The number of times I see crew moving coats around is ridiculous. If coats are not placed on top of hand luggage they should be removed and shredded.

    • quote: If coats are not placed on top of hand luggage they should be removed and shredded.

      Awesome – I would volunteer to help with the shredding 🙂
      I’ve even seen passengers get annoyed when their coats are moved to make way for luggage !

  10. JamesWag says:

    Are they ignoring OneWorld status in the boarding process ?

  11. I don’t see the logic behind the reduction in size of the 2nd piece … since it has to be kept at your feet (absolutely fair enough) – surely reducing the size by a couple of inches is pointless ??

    btw, I’ve just measured my man-bag, and it’s well within the new size limit – so I’m alright jack !

  12. In addition to the above why don’t they load window seat passengers first? Seems a no brainer to me.
    Also a little slide message on the overhead bins when that says ‘Space’ to slide to ‘Full’.
    What do I know?
    Just a Gold for Life passenger!

  13. Yasminah says:

    When I travelled from LHR to TXL on Monday the boarding procedures were the same as usual. CE was not boarded first and there was the normal massive queue for priority boarding with those at the front of the queue heading straight towards the back of the plane (after leaving their bags in the overhead lockers in CE). Would be interesting to know if this new boarding process was being used at the discretion of the ground staff or whether it will be rolled out.