Bits: BA selling Heathrow economy flights from £26, new Maldives hand baggage rules

News in brief:

BA now selling economy fares at Heathrow from £26

British Airways has announced a wave of price cuts for the Winter schedules.  It has to be said that they are getting very aggressive on pricing.

On the BA press event earlier this year, Alex Cruz was saying that people who fly to Rome for £29 shouldn’t be getting free snacks.  Which was a good point, except that BA wasn’t actually selling tickets to Rome for £29.

Perhaps we spoke too soon.  They are getting there.  Here are some headline prices from the Winter schedule:

Luxembourg (photo below) – £26 each-way

Palma – £28 each-way

Malaga – £30 each-way

Bilbao – £30 each-way

These are based on a return trip.  You cannot actually buy a one-way ticket at this price as far as I can see.  I found days with more than nine seats to Luxembourg available for £26, so they haven’t just released a token 2-3 seats per flight at these prices.

According to BA, the “bulk” of Heathrow short-haul routes now have some seats for £39 or less.

I’m worried that BA is actually pricing these too low.  Any status member who books one of these and uses fast track security and the lounge will be losing BA quite a bit of money.

Luxembourg, for example, is a Terminal 3 flight and anyone using the Cathay Pacific lounge (click for review) or – from November – Qantas lounge (which any sane person would do) will be incurring a bill for BA greater than their ticket price.   A £52 return ticket to Luxembourg is actually £11 of base fare and £41 of taxes and charges.  These are all ‘real’ taxes and charges so BA is only getting £11 of your money.

So … BA chips away at leg room and free food and snacks in order to sell tickets to Luxembourg for £52 return.  There are, however, plenty of people who need to travel to Luxembourg at short notice who will have to pay £649 return in economy – and those are the people who are most likely to be defecting to other airlines with more leg room and better refreshments.  One of those passengers brings in the same revenue as 12 passengers who have paid the cheapest economy fare.  This is why I worry about the BA strategy.

New hand baggage restrictions to The Maldives

Male has been added to the list of departure points where there are severe hand baggage restrictions on flights TO the UK.  Outbound flights are not affected.

Here is the full BA guidance:

“You will not be able to carry laptops, tablets and larger mobile phones in your hand baggage on these flights. Only mobile phones smaller than the following dimensions will be allowed in the cabin:

  • Length: 16 cm
  • Width: 9.3 cm
  • Depth: 1.5 cm

In addition, certain items known as peripheral devices (which can be attached to a laptop, tablet or larger mobile phone) are also subject to new security requirements.  Please be aware that some peripheral devices will not be allowed on board the aircraft at all.”

You can find more details on here.

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  1. If they are going to start selling fares st that price, they need to depart and arrive at more economical airports just like Ryanair and easyJet.

    • the_real_a says:

      What is often forgotten is that much of the growth of the lo cost airlines was driven by much of the population not wanting to travel between TWO big cities / airports. Often the airport in the middle of nowhere is actually the preferred departure/destination to a significant number of local offices/homes.

  2. Id prefer they kept the service levels high and the prices at £99 rtrn+

    • I’d prefer a cheap seat from LHR – as long as it gets me to my destination and it’s not too stressful, I couldn’t give 2 hoots about the rest of it

  3. Hi Rob, I assume you can see my email address from this comment – would you be able to send me a referral for an AmEx Gold please?

    Much appreciated!

  4. Lady London says:

    Too late for me. Easyjet, and for a couple of flights the dreaded Ryanair, already has the big chunk of my currently foreseen business (about 80 flights) through to end of next summer. BA’s getting about 7 short haul legs and 1 or 2 longhaul trips, at best, from me each each year right now. When I know what other flights I need I will have to choose on which airline at the time. But the Easyjet model works for me. Thank you to other posters on here for helping me work that out. There is nothing more entertaining right now than watching the fiasco that is British Airways Buy on Board, compared to the slick service of well chosen items on Easyjet.

    British Airways doesn’t need to make a profit on each seat. They just need to make sure the total of all flights sold, whatever the mix, is more than the total of their costs. Each seat here is bringing in marginal revenue that can do that. Agreed if they sold every seat at these kinds of prices then with their cost base they’d be losing money.

    But theoretically they could be covering up to the value of their costs by other revenue. In which case the marginal, say £11, value of each seat sold here goes above the line and is pure profit. This theory works better if more of their costs are fixed of course, than variable according to services used by each seat. But they probably have some volume deal/lump sum cost provision for lounges and security. These seats will definitely contribute to profit I would say. It’s all just too late for me so far as my upcoming flights are concerned though – they’ve already gone elsewhere.

    • Lady London says:

      And getting done over by British Airways Customer (Dis-)Services in India, to the point of being reduced to tears on the phone, when I was fully in the right, has not helped my willingness to book British Airways if I can find any other flight when I need one.

      • They are dreadful! I’ve called the UK centre the last 2 times I needed to, since I learned (on HFP) the trick of withholding my number, it’s a completely different experience. It makes you wasn’t to weep, but with relief and gratitude!

        • the real harry1 says:

          what trick do you use & which telephone number? the only (obvious) thing I’ve done is use the Gold or Silver BAEC numbers, which the call centre staff don’t seem to care about (I’m a Bluey)

        • does everyone realise the new/current Amex ‘chat’ facility is now India, not Brighton? (regardless of the daft western names they use)

        • the real harry1 says:

          well, in itself not a big problem

          small one since you already OT’d – I refuse to pay for Sky Sports since I like live sport too much! sounds contradictory but basically I am forcing myself to not watch live sport on TV all the time. so my method is to wangle free NowTV Sky Sports passes to ration it a bit, I am very successful. the Chat team – all in India no doubt – are absolutely brilliant at giving away free passes, just wangled another free week just by being the nice guy & asking (ie a code not working) – the deal is to give them top feedback so everybody’s happy, I guess the variable cost for NowTV is very low as well

          anyway, India Chat team = brilliant in this instance, they don’t call themselves Tommy or Michelle, though 🙂

  5. Completely OT but I promised someone I would feed back on the Accor – opinion polls thing.

    It has now been 12 months and 4 days since my last Accor stay but my points are still available. I don’t know how quickly they usually cancel the points but, assuming that they automatically cancel exactly 12 months after your last stay, then it appears that completing a survey does extend your points lifetime.

  6. Some carrier’s routes only work on £1 or £2 profit per flight – not per seat. They’ve bought the routes to stop other airlines getting them.

  7. BA must be confident that they are starting to turn marginal costs into marginal revenue (such as BOB, baggage charges etc). Perhaps a real turning point for the carrier if correct, as these low fares will become the norm.

  8. Re comment on revenue of 12 people on £52 fares, if you net of the tax and charges (assuming charges don’t go to ba) the base fare is £11 v maybe £600 on the £649 fare. So approx. 55

  9. Graham Walsh says:

    OT – Just in case it catches anyone else out, I had a Priority Pass 10 visit pack that I got last year in a Black Friday deal. Noticed on my new cc statement this morning a charge of £159, so rang to cancel as I’ve got it with Amex plat now.

    • Yep, priority pass recently charged my credit card 4!!! weeks before renewal date..You can get 15 months unlimited membership for 219 pound, so why would I pay full price for renewal

      • Graham Walsh says:

        Actually mine was nearly 4 weeks too, really bad of them. I just did my house insurance, 2 days before it expires.

        • Like you Graham I bought PriorityPass last year in the Black Friday sale. Found yesterday they’d charged £69 to renew. I rang them this afternoon to cancel the renewal. I’ve still got a month to use anyway.

  10. At that price it’s almost worth buying a flight, getting absolutely trashed in the lounge and then just go home again!

    • the real harry1 says:

      My elder bro had the free Airport Angels lounge passes from Barclays a couple of years ago & being somewhat of a toper, planned to do exactly that! never actually got round to it

      I don’t think it would mess up conformance & as long as you were polite enough not to check in luggage then not make the plane – nobody is that stupid, surely? – could even now be quite a fun day if you had a decent book on the go, esp if you had the unlimited Priority Pass & several lounges available, I guess you’d just need to pick a flight leaving (say) 5-6 hrs after you arrive @ airport – brings back flash memories of the milk round/ graduate recruitment when I was at Univ… 🙂

      • Ah i miss the Airport Angel card, whole family had them! Related, but when you cancel the Amex Plat the Priority Pass card is also cancelled, however, 2 years later my OH received a shiny new replacement PP card, which works.

        • the real harry1 says:

          that’s karma for you 🙂 – I did hear that occasionally a few slip under the radar

          Airport Angels – I was slow to the party but getting them free for a couple of years was nice lol

          I think the closest we might wangle to free/ well, cheap lounge passes now would be:

          a) self & wife get Plat at just the right time for the rare times we all 5 travel out and back on the same flights to our place in the sun, it can happen at Xmas & once May/June half term – get the 2 PPs and guest in 2 kids, get the third a cheap entry (maybe!) – 8 lounge entries for not too much when Plat gets refunded pro rata

          b) the Barclays current a/c 6x Dragonpass entries – these are going to cost you minimum 6 months x £15.50 for the Travel Plus Pack – however, I do actually pay for breakdown insurance on 2 cars, so I could genuinely take off (say) £50 for 6 months’ breakdown insurance – so £93 minus £50 = £43, 6 lounge passes @ £7.16 each, a bit less in your mind if you ascribe some value to the other benefits of the Travel Plus Pack

          c) the 10 shot Priority Pass on offer with cashback comes out at about £11 per lounge pass – I’d be well into this if they allowed you to use the 10 passes any way you like, eg self + 3 kids (this is how Dragonpass works on the Barclays offer)

    • It’s a cheap night out….go to T5 with a mate (or two if your GGL), and for £58 (£87), drink them dry and get a dodgy burger or two to cure the hangover!

      • the real harry1 says:

        T5 is a bit limited, though? OK with high status you can get by, otherwise no go, right? – but with PP, what is the best terminal?

        T3 LHR, presumably

        other airports?

        • T5 in theory will have two PP lounges very soon.

          Club Aspire and No 1 in T3 are good (and bigger than the T5 lounges).

  11. I’d be tempted with a 20% avios bonus though not a given.
    The 3x Uber works well for us for the occasional Uber (so as long remains in London) and I can convert to cash through work Ubers to LGW/LHR. Used the other day for 3x but given no cash back / rewards its more like c.2.5x.
    So would I add to the avios stash at 2.88x (1p val) with further arbitrage opportunity but to be used years down the line or take the 2.5x on and 3x on Uber now? It’s a tough one.

    • the real harry1 says:

      I think I’ll add a few more Virgin miles next time there’s a 20% bonus, I was on the point of going for it just recently but chickened out – the AF/ KLM thing probably will be a game changer for European use – if BA comes up trumps first I guess they’ll get them instead; no Uber round here

  12. Ammar Ghouri says:

    Ot – OH needs to 2 eligible flights to hit silver.

    The BA website states “Marketed and operated by Iberia’ means the flight will have an IB flight number and the aircraft you travel on is an Iberia aircraft (including franchises).”

    So, If i book my wife a return trip from BHX-MAD on Iberia website but operated by Iberia express (hand baggage only fare), will that count as 2 flights?

  13. OT – the new IHG Points break preview is out. Looking forward to Rob’s take on this quarter’s offering….

  14. laura baden-powell says:

    OT but i can’t find the info anywhere. Have a BA EX premium card and have earned 1 companion voucher already. We are a family of 3, when I get the next voucher is it useless for the 3rd person? IE would I need 2 full price tix to get my 2 children on board with me? Is there a way round this with another card? TIA

    • The 3rd person would be ‘full Avios’, yes.

      Plan B is to get the Lloyds Avios Rewards card and spend £7k on that to trigger the upgrade voucher. You can then do:

      2 x Club World tickets for the Avios of one, using the BA voucher
      1 x Club World ticket for the cost of a World Traveller Plus ticket, using the Lloyds voucher

      However …. I THINK (and I am not sure on this) that the Lloyds voucher would need to be in the name of the other adult to whoever has the BA Amex, because the Lloyds voucher can only be used for the named cardholder. If the BA card is in your name, you’d use the 241 to book yourself and the child, with hubby having the Lloyds card in his name and using the upgrade voucher for his ticket.

  15. BA customer service is a popular theme at the moment.
    This recent article from one of our founders triggered a deluge of debate around how BAs cost cutting actually costs more in the long run.*a115291*s123774