Bits: new BA strike dates, Qatar relaxes baggage rules – will BA follow?

News in brief:

New British Airways strike announced

Another wave of mixed fleet cabin crew strikes have been announced for next week.

Certain cabin crew will walk out from Friday 3rd March to Thursday 9th March.

Disruption will be minimised by merging certain flights and using charter aircraft for others.  BA is promising that everyone will be able to fly on the day they are booked if not on the exact flight.

Services from Gatwick and London City are not affected.

Updates will be announced on this page of ba.com.

British Airways 350 2

Qatar Airways relaxes baggage rules …. will BA follow?

Last year, the oneworld airline alliance – of which British Airways is a core member – relaxed a rule which obliged members to check through baggage when flights were booked on separate tickets but both airlines were oneworld members.

British Airways went a step further.  It now refuses to check through luggage between its own flights when they are on separate tickets.

Let’s assume you book an Avios flight from London to Bangkok but pay cash for a connecting BA flight from Manchester to London.  As these will be on separate tickets, you will need to reclaim your baggage in Heathrow and check it in again.  This creates pointless additional stress for the passenger.

Cathay Pacific recently gave in to passenger pressure and decided that it would check through bags when both flights were operated by Cathay.  Qatar Airways has now gone a step further.  From 1st March, it will reportedly return to checking through bags between itself and other oneworld airlines.

It won’t work in the other direction though.  If you are flying Bangkok to Doha on Qatar and Qatar to London on BA, on separate tickets, Qatar will ensure your bags travel with you on the outbound.  On your return, BA will not do so, forcing you to collect your bags in Doha, clear customs, pay for a Qatari visa (if you did not arrange a free one in advance), head up to departures and check in again.

How long can BA hold out with its ‘customer unfriendly’ policy?

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Comments

  1. Hi Rob – not quite right on the oneworld baggage changes. After the new rule came in Cathay stopped through-checking on separate tickets to alliance flights, but continued to allow through-checking on CX/CX or CX/KA flights. Its recent rule change has been to return to the policy of allowing through-check to all other oneworld alliance flights, i.e. the same policy that QR has now re-adopted. There is zero chance of BA following suit seeing as they were the airline that lobbied Oneworld to scotch the rule in the first place!

    • Anthony Dunn says:

      I have now spent 20 minutes on the BAEC Gold line explaining just how irritated I am at BA’s utterly dogmatic stance over interlining between OW carriers on separate PNRs. As a user of BA’s Amex Platinum card, this is sold on the basis of the 241 vouchers. There is now a question mark over my being potentially being downgraded in favour of a full revenue passenger – at BA’s discretion. Then there is the issue that, when using such redemptions, having to buy another ticket (on a separate PNR) when connecting onto another destination. In my case, this is onto Sri Lanka through India. Owing to the separate issue of the ongoing tit-for-tat approach taken by the Indians towards the UK over visa regimes and costs, I am faced with having to go through the rigmarole of obtaining 2x £60 visas (my wife and me) simply to collect bags, take them through Indian customs and then check them back in again. Probably a “stay” on Indian territory of some 30-45 minutes.

      BAEC Gold line were clearly unaware that QR – one of IAG/BA’s biggest single investors – has resiled from the OW interlining policy, as has, in certain respects, Cathay Pacific.

      I would strongly advise people to ring BAEC to make clear their considerable irritation and annoyance at BA’s hardline over this as part of BA’s perpetual focus on cost reduction first and last.

      • Any possibility to save yourself £60 by just getting one visa and you do the heavy lifting while your wife relaxes airside?

      • I will be in a similar position in August with a 2 hour connection at Heathrow. I rang BA a few weeks ago and they said to ask the ground staff at GCM to check the bags all the way through. It’s a very small, friendly airport (they say “Welcome Home” when you go through passport control because it’s a BOT), so I can imagine them agreeing in principle, but will their computers and whatnot actually allow it?

        • Is Cayman Islands any good as a holiday resort? I looked into moving there to work a few years ago (but never did) and IIRC food and drink etc are v expensive.

          Where will you stay? The Ritz Carlton looks like a good aspirational redemption.

  2. I flew 2 weekend ago to MLE on 2separate tickets
    STN-SAW-DOH on Pegasus (CheapOair ticket 120GBP per PAX)
    At DOHa I went to transfer desk and I Could redirect Bags to MLE (redemtion Flight with Qatar) it took me just 5minutes (I jad 4hours connection) – one bag was late 1day another 3days I and Qatar pay me cash 50+100 dollars on Way back at checkin desk

    Retuurn was little more time consume to redirect bags at Doha You have one line on transfers for another Airlines (BA cathey Pegasus) and I transfer bags from Qatar Airways to Pegasus without clear security visa etc…It took me 1,5h becouse lady at transfer saud that they must be sure first to Find my bags , before give me tickets to SAW-STN

    So at Doha You can transfer bags without pick them and clear security and pay for visa

  3. The baggage rules frustrate me. Before Christmas I flew Phuket-Bangkok with Thai (Star Alliance) and then Bangkok-Doha-Paris on Qatar. Thai checked my bags in all the way to Paris. Makes a mockery of the One World rules in my opinion. I wander if all Star Alliance members can do that?

    • Lady London says:

      Even Qantas was trying not to through check luggage in Sydney last March. The Oneworld rule about they should through check luggage to final destination if all Oneworld tickets held by passenger on route, was still in force. When I politely asked, the Qantas staff checked with supervisor and got an OK. Made it sound like a favour though ‘on this occasion…’

      This was Qantas own staff not subcontracted staff who sometimes would not know all the rules (a risk at outstations and non-hubs these days).

      I’m doing well upwards of 100 flights this year. BA could have had a big chunk of them. But the purpose I interpret behind BA’s various withdrawals of privileges that made them easier to use has meant sadly Easyjet and even the dreaded Ryanair are currently back in my flight plans for short haul. For longhaul BA still gets about 25%. There just wasn’t any reason to focus on booking BA first.

  4. Canny Kenny says:

    Going slightly off topic here. As great as QR as, it has a unique & very annoying baggage transfer policy. If connecting at DOH (all QR flights on 1 ticket), QR will NOT allow you to reclaim your baggage and re-check in at DOH irrespective of the transfer time involved – eg if you have an overnight transit stay at Doha city and require your toiletries (>100ml) or wish to cram your luggage with new shopping. When i enquired with QR ground staff the logic behind this policy, they said its to stop their Qatar based passengers buying significantly cheaper ex-DOH tickets eg DXB-DOH-LHR-DOH-DXB and not flying the last leg DOH-DXB (assuming their pax have checked-in luggage). Yet the likes of EK and EY don’t impose this policy.

    • Just like BA with ex-EU tickets then…

      What Doha needs is a second airport so you can do the LHR-LGW transfer trick and pick up your bags…

      Oh I forgot, Qatar has a forward thinking government who build one airport big enough and scalable enough to rule them all – no arguing for 20 years on where to build a new runway there…

      • Well it certainly helps when 90% of your population aren’t citizens and don’t have any rights.

      • what’s the trick you refer to please?

        • If you change airport they can’t through-check your bags. Personally I prefer to fly the entire ticket but flying from outside London means its only one extra flight anyway.

        • the real harry1 says:

          dropping the last leg of your return flight, ie no need to fly out to the middle of nowhere to collect your bag

    • I experienced this over the Xmas period with a 23.5 hour layover on a flight to AUH.

      When told this at check-in at HEL i fully intended challenging the rules upon arrival at DOH.

      In the end though I decided to let it go and walked out of the yermi6nal with my hand luggage. It felt very cathartic!

      Toiletries were not a problem as I purloined a toothbrush from the plane and also retained my amenity kit. I did buy a t-shirt and a pair of cheap summer shoes and was set for sightseeing the following day!

      As long as you are aware of this it is not a problem. Certainly less of an inconvenience than BAs refusal to interline bags

      • Did you have a Doha transit visa? The fare rules for QR connecting flights, which formed part of the contract between you and Qatar Airways when you purchased your tickets, clearly state:

        IF PASSENGER DOES NOT HOLD TRANSIT VISA
        THEN BAGS WILL ALWAYS BE CHECKED-IN THROUGH TO THE
        FINAL DESTINATION. THE PASSENGERS
        SHOULD CARRY EVERYTHING THEY NEED IN DOHA IN A
        HAND BAG

        IN CASE THE PASSENGER NEEDS THE BAGS IN DOHA
        TWO SEPARATE TICKETS NEED TO BE BOUGHT.

        So if you didn’t have a transit visa printout to show in HEL, thank goodness you didn’t argue against something you already agreed to….

    • This is slightly incorrect.

      Qatar now has free-of-charge transit visa as of December 2016, for DOH stopovers lasting 5-96 hours. You can get this only if your tickets are issued by QR, and do not originate from a Middle Eastern airport, and you apply 7 days in advance by scanning your passport on QR’s website.

      You get something to print out (which is not needed in Qatar itself) but if you show this printout at your origin, they are able to check your bags only to DOH. However, this transit visa is only available once per roundtrip. If you want to visit DOH twice, then you have to use this on the outbound (provided you qualify) or buy a visit visa on arrival the first time, then apply for the transit visa later (provided you have at least 7 days to do it). But the visit visa on arrival will not let you short check your bags since there is nothing to show at your origin.

      BUT check the fare rules of your ticket, as short-checking was completely prohibited in the past.

  5. Rob – my recent experiences with the Oneworld baggage fiasco have been different to what you suggest in your penultimate paragraph. In November I flew London to Amsterdam (BA) and Amsterdam to Bangkok with Qatar. On the outbound, BA refused to check bags through to BKK and I had to collect and recheck in at AMS with huge queues at Immigration. On the return Qatar check the bags through to LHR with no problem. In December I flew to Colombo with BA from LHR to Chennai and then connecting flight on separate ticket from Chennai to London on Sri Lankan (also Oneworld). On the outbound BA refused to check bags further than Chennai (fortunately I had Indian transit visa to deal with this eventuality). On the return Sri Lanka checked the bags straight through to London although we had to reidentify bags in Chenna for security reasons as we had left the airport to tho to nearby Hilton as long overnight transit time.

    • Jonathan Hannah says:

      Was this one of the original reasons for the (punitive) change? Perhaps BA are growing tired of shuttling RFS passengers to European Qatar pick-up points. That wouldn’t explain the insistence on not interlining between their own flights though.

    • laineyling says:

      Hi Nick

      My husband and I are planning to do the same trip (lhr to chennai with BA, separate ticket with Sri Lanka airways to Colombo). Is there any way to avoid getting a visa? Eg Is there a service for transferring luggage as described in Doha? If not is there the possibility to check in airside to the SL flight? My husband is German so it’s significantly cheaper for him to get an Indian transit and thought he could exit and recheck bags and I will stay airside.

      How was chennai airport? Did any of the one world business class lounges have showers?

      Thanks!

      • Anthony Dunn says:

        Same here: BA 241 LHR-MAA and then onto UL MAA-CMB in June. As things stand, I now need to obtain two (very expensive) Indian visas simply so that I can collect our ex-BA bags and then check them in for our UL flight. Or could I get away with just obtaining one visa and leaving the missus in the OW/UL airside lounge whilst I do the bags?

        Whatever, this is a serious inconvenience and a considerable necessary annoyance courtesy of BA’s hardline stance over interlining baggage.

  6. Gareth Jones says:

    Having just flown with Cathay, and found out that they have started to check through baggage was a relief, as I once almost miss my flight via BKK. That gave me an extra 1 hour to relax in the Peir First Class Lounge in HK, so much nicer than the BA/Qantas lounge before I boarded my flight back to London with BA. So I had no problem with BA excepting my bags as they arrived slowly in LHR.
    I do have to say that service is going down hill fast at BA, as a BA gold member I seem to get better treated on other airlines.

    • Canny Kenny says:

      Indeed, until end of 2016 I was a BA Gold member and once when travelling from DOH to LHR on QR cattle class, i was personally greeted by the flight purser shortly after take off with the customary “we”ll treat you a like a king” chit chat. Had great service in-flight service until 7 hrs later at LHR when Special Branch officers boarded the plane and took me in for questioning….LOL. [I was coming back from Basra (Iraq) on a Shell business trip]

      • The flight purser on qatar does that introduction chit chat to me whenever i fly QR economy and i’m only QR silver (OW ruby). Even takes my meal order.

        It’s only a small thing but it’s a nice personal touch that I appreciate!

    • Well in HKG you can just ask the transit desks to retrieve your bags for you, even if they weren’t checked through. You may have to wait a while but at least you don’t have to do it yourself.

  7. BA going even more LCC at EDI this AM – no jetbridge and long queue on the stairs! Lots of passengers grumbling they should have gone easyJet!

  8. MH also allow through checked baggage on multiple OW airlines:
    https://www.malaysiaairlines.com/my/en/plan/check-in/counter.html

  9. Great, so not only do I have to worry about being downgraded on my upcoming JNB flights on 8/3 due to 2×241 booking, I now also have to worry if my flight will run at all! It will be my first time flying CW with BA, after years of VS flights in upper, really hope it exceeds my expectations (hopefully not to difficult, after reading here and on FT they’re not very high!)

  10. OT – Amex travel offer up today, any recommendations for a U.K hotel break in the south? I’ve priced up some EU city break flights but seem to come out more expensive than booking direct

    • The south is pretty wide, not all convenient for a short break depending where you are starting?
      Talking where I know (where I am!) £200 might get you a 2 nights midweek at the Hilton Bournemouth or 3 nights (or a weekend) at the connected Hampton. Round it out with a good dinner bargain. https://www.travelzoo.com/uk/local-deals/Dorset/Restaurant/245193/Hilton-Bournemouth/ (before Easter).
      Of course there are lots of other hotels here too which would work fine. Don’t spend your days in Bournemouth: use it as a base for the New Forest and the Isle of Purbeck if you’ve never visited the area.

  11. OT but my domestic booking on ba.com is now showing as Club Europe!

    • Were you originally booked into X and now U ?

    • Same here – originally showing ‘U’ economy. Now showing ‘U’ Club Europe but does not allow me to select seats in the first 5 rows.

      • Same for me. Looks as though you can’t book flights in the class for March until tomorrow. Might be that some changes are yet ironed out. I am in a party of two, one of whom is currently assigned the middle seat which presumably will not actually be there. I’m assuming this will change…

        • Things seem to be moving around for me too. I got a MyFlights alert on a redemption booking in August late afternoon. That was X domestics(economy redemption) either side of a F/J redemption (z/u classes). MyFlights says domestics cancelled, but I have 2 domestics with same flight numbers showing in MMB. In the app they are showing as Club Europe but won’t let me select seats. I’m getting an error on the desktop site on the seat selector for entire booking. Interestingly it’s an evening flight to LHR and onward following morning, all on the same booking ref.

          Other one is a cash booking in J/I/I/J in December (JFK) also showing as CE for domestic in app and desktop – it’s showing me a seat map but can’t select seats.

          I’ll give it a few days and get on the phone if it’s not settled down.

          • It’s all over the shop. Back in Euro Traveller for my X domestics, got 4 seats on a 2 person booking on the cash ones.

            Should step away from the computer really….

    • Booking now showing as Club Europe, and rows 2 to 5 available for seat selection on a 2 x 2 layout.
      Entire Row 1 blocked out, assume for Golds.

  12. My experience two weeks ago of returning to LHR from Tokyo via Doha and Pisa (separate BA ticket from Pisa to LHR) was that QR were happy to check baggage all the way through to LHR. Our bags were the first two to appear at LHR too!

    • Hi, do you just show them the other booking when you checked in at Tokyo?

      • Yes, Kathryn, all they seemed to need was the BA ticket number, lifted from my phone, and the computer did the rest. It seemed happy to print out the multiple destination luggage label. Of course, I was expecting a ‘computer says no’ response!
        There was one small wrinkle at Pisa. We were met at the foot of the aircraft steps by a QR staffer who explained that as Pisa had no suitable luggage transfer facility we would have to collect the bags and re-deposit them (no new luggage receipts). This took about 10 minutes and then we were into the excellent lounge. This definitely appeared to be an airport issue and not a BA/One World complication.

        • Cool, thanks. My flight back is actually to TXL, so hopefully they’ll have the facilities :)

  13. Anyone had any recent strike day experience of First out of LHR? We are (hoping) to be using a 241 to IAD on Friday.
    Further, although our MMB appears fully complete for both flights I am told our return ticket ‘has yet to be issued’. Calls to the helpline over the last 10 days have yet to resolve things but I’ve been reassured that ‘they might be behind issuing tickets’. When should I start to get really concerned?! (return flight is not until 24/3

    • I would have thought they should be issued by now. Have BA taken the money for the return? I’m waiting for the return info/ money to appear for a 241 open jaw and complete ticket details. The flights are all there on MMB, just not the final e-receipt. Our flight is months away, so not as anxious as you. I would be on to CS, logging names ,dates,times , documenting assurances etc. Enjoy the F experience and hope it’s not marred by strike action

      • Thanks. I believe the complication is that several weeks back I changed the return flight from BWI to IAD and moved the seats from CW to F. I guess that gave rise to a small increase in charges from those already paid but it is that difference that they have not, apparently, taken due to their not having kept the four digit cc security code. That has been re-provided several times now. They tell me that 48 hours before departure they are allowed to call the ticket issuing team to chase the ticket….

        • Did you speak with YouFirst about it or is it too soon for that?

          • Ah! Not our first experience in F but wasn’t aware of YouFirst… Have called them and they say ‘don’t worry, all in hand’.
            Further more they say that it is not a mixed fleet flight on Friday so it will be ‘full service as usual’.
            Well, I guess we’ll see.
            Thanks, John

        • > due to their not having kept the four digit cc security code.

          I assume that this is the four figure code on the front of an Amex card?

          Under the PCIDSS rules retailers are not allowed to keep a record of these if they use a merchant aquirer. Depending on their sytems, though, the data should have been storable in an encrypted form, to which no one should ever have access, for a certain length of time. Also, I would expect that after an initial successful card transaction, the system may well be automatically programmed to accept further transactions on that card number and expiry date without the security code.

          But I guess that we are talking about BA’s systems…

          • Yes, that code.
            Of course the ‘system’ is one thing but then you have the people who use the system / interpret the system. Not to mention the training of the people. Plenty of opportunity for balls to be dropped…
            To be fair I’ve never had problems before. But recent experiences of Qatar and Etihad leave me nervous about the gulf (pun intended) in product / delivery that we are going to experience with BA! (assuming tickets are issued and we are not bumped..)

  14. OT Amex Gold > Platinum upgrade offer

    Was the new link for the offer ever posted? Can’t seem to find it…

    • There’s nothing official. Contact Amex and persuade them to cut you a deal

      • The was a post a few weeks back where someone said they had a new link…

        • LaineyLing says:

          I tried to see if Amex would do me a similar offer but was told that there was no deals currently available and that they would be unable to offer me an alternative.

        • There wasn’t – or if someone said they had one, they didn’t post it.

          • It was exactly that – said there was a link, & would post “later” & never did…

  15. LaserBeams says:

    OT – How often do HSBC run the offer that ran a few months ago whereby if you transfer their Elite Mastercard reward points to Avios, there is a 50% bonus?

  16. the real harry1 says:

    O/T Virgin Trains launches celebratory 20th Birthday Seat Sale
    https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/about/media-room/?awc=3892_1488296327_fd53f986ef41388dcef823f0c467ea98&utm_source=Affiliate+Window&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=47868#/pressreleases/virgin-trains-launches-celebratory-20th-birthday-seat-sale-1830299

    Discounted Standard fares include the below Advance Single tickets*:

    London to Manchester: before £22, now £10
    London to Birmingham: before £8, now £4
    London to Chester: before £16.50, now £10
    London to Glasgow: before £30, now £14

    Discounted First Class fares include the below Advance Single tickets*:

    London to Manchester: before £43, now £28
    London to Birmingham: before £26, now £17
    London to Chester: before £45, now £28
    London to Glasgow: before £55, now £35

    • Thanks for this but only available to book from 9-14 March. Maybe repost in the comments on 8th March.

      Seems to only apply to the 2 cheapest buckets of fares anyway, so no good for most trains in April. For my upcoming yet-to-be-booked trip to Scotland, there’s only one train left from all of 25 March to 10 April that still has first class available in the cheapest and 2nd cheapest buckets

      I also have a nectar voucher for £7.50 off a sainsbury’s shop for any VTWC purchase before 8 March. Worth checking your nectar account.

      • Genghis says:

        Thanks for the heads up John. I need a Virgin trains ticket but will wait for the sale. However, I got 1,000 Nectar points offer so just booked a Haymarket-Waverley…

  17. the real harry1 says:
  18. OT: Any logical reason why the LHR-KUL leg of my LHR-KUL-HKT trip has registered with 0 avios and tier points? In my BAEC it just has 0 without explanation. My partner’s goes as far as to state “Ineligible Flight”. The KUL-HKT leg shows fine (although oddly I am given 5 tier points yet my partner has those taken off her).

    Anything to this or just yet another waste of time on the phone to customer services looming?

    • I presume MH? Don’t some of their lowest fare buckets not pay avios/TPs?

      • BA Avios calculator says “Economy Lowest” should get 1,600 Avios for this leg. Or is there a class lower than the lowest of the low?

        • the real harry1 says:

          in the deepest deep, a deeper deep etc – Milton

          it can always get worse

          • the real harry1 says:

            remembered it
            And in the deepest deep, a deeper deep; threat’ning to devour me opens wide, to which the hell I suffer seems a heaven – John Milton

    • It depends on the fare class. I think N,Q,G and O don’t earn anything.

      • I see. Thanks. I’ve thrown my ticket stubs away now, and the original booking confirmation doesn’t have a letter attached. I suppose I’ll query it and see what the response is. Thanks for your help.

  19. David2910 says:

    Completely OT: anyone know if there’s a lounge at Seville airport? Seems to have shut a couple of years ago, then opened this year (according to FT), but no evidence of it on OW page? Any recent experience? Thanks