BA launches ‘no suitcase’ fares from Gatwick – first step to a low-cost model?

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

For some time, there has a been a view that – in a continued attempt to make BA’s Gatwick operation profitable – it would move towards more of an easyJet approach to life.

Gatwick already has ‘self bag tag’ machines, where you need to print your own baggage tag before taking it to the desk.

And now …

British Airways has launched ‘hand baggage only’ fares from Gatwick. Initially, they are only available on the Amsterdam, Dubrovnok, Jersey, Tunis and Turin flights, from February 26th. Other routes will follow later.

Hand-baggage will remain free.

The discount is £10-£11 each way. Does this really reflect BA’s costs for handling a case? And is this even a real discount, or have the fares with a case actually been bumped up by £10-£11?

What is not clear is the position of Gold and equivalent oneworld status card holders, who theoretically get an extra free item of checked baggage. Does this mean you can book one of these fares and still check a suitcase? This does not seem to have been fully thought through.

Given that Heathrow will not be adopting this policy, it could all go horribly wrong. Let’s see.

Ironically, the one bit of the low cost model I would like to see BA bring in – buy on board food – has not happened. Frankly, given the choice, I would rather pay for something from an easyJet style food menu than be given a free cup of tea and a ‘savoury snack’ with no option of getting anything better ….

Off to NYC Part 3 - Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Frankfurt review and photos
Off to NYC Part 2 - Lufthansa business class, Hamburg to Frankfurt

Click here to join the 15,000 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Nutmeg ad
Amazon ad
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. Paul Goffin says:

    BA have confirmed in the t&c’s that if gold or silver card holders book a ‘hand baggage only’ fare they won’t be able to check a bag for free.

  2. More pressure on hand luggage stowage on short haul..just what we need!

  3. If you proceed with a booking, this message pops up:

    The baggage allowance for this fare is:

    1 piece of hand baggage, plus 1 laptop sized bag or handbag
    A collapsible pushchair and one car seat if you are travelling with small children or an infant
    No checked baggage. Executive Club Gold, Silver and oneworld equivalent members’ additional checked baggage allowance does not apply to this fare.

  4. Just done a quick search on the LGW to AMS route, BA want £38.79 yet easyjet want £43.99 on 04/03/2013

  5. Johnny5a says:

    What will happen if they run out of overhead locker space? I assume this will be the start of cabin baggage size enforcement. My Samsonite is precisely the size of the sizer frame, more often I’ve seen bags much bigger! than mine being dragged onto the flight. More recently Tunis!

    • Never seen BA ever actually check cabin baggage size, guess they will have to start checking hand luggage size now

  6. Blackberryaddict says:

    “And is this even a real discount, or have the fares with a case actually been bumped up by £10-£11?”

    Having had a look on the LGW-AMS – they are indeed cheaper than before. It changes the equation a little vs the Reward Flight Saver tickets – I’ve just cancelled an Avios booking and bought the hand-luggage only tickets.

    • At £39 its better to pay cash than use avios points at these prices plus you earn the standard rate of avios at points for economy – not reduced!

      • That’s a fair point … AMS is a poor use of Avios even with RFS at these levels, unless you need flexibility.

        Let’s see if those fares stay so low, though!

        • Blackberryaddict says:

          Yes, so that what I did. But I was miles rich and cash poor, and needed 4 tickets. It was marginal anyway, but with these fares the margin slipped away.

  7. BA introduced the ‘self bag tag’ option at London City quite some time ago. It surprises me why it’s taken airlines so long to introduce this when Swissair and Sabena were doing it back in 2000.

    The no suitcase fare is actually BA copying Air France’s Mini fares which they launched back in January. “With our Mini offer you will enjoy a simplified service at great fare, starting from 50 EUR* one way.”

    If you buy this fare and then decide you want to take luggage you can providing you pay – online before departure for €15 or at the airport for €30.

    You don’t get Flying Blue Miles whilst you do get Avios & status points with BA’s no suitcase fare.

  8. Thunderbirds says:

    I think that BA should continue to un-bundle their prices which is what is happening here. To a large extent Low Cost airline simply means no legacy costs, it has nothing really to do with levels of (paid for) service.

  9. What happens if a couple want to take one bag? I suppose they would have to book separately?

    • … Which would be a mess if only 1 had BA status, because you couldn’t select seats for both people if on separate bookings!

    • Blackberryaddict says:

      book both with hand luggage only , and add a bag separately in MMB. Or if that is more expensive, just stick to the original, normal fare.

  10. Thunderbirds says:

    I think you are confusing the underlying requirement with how BA have implemented it via their web-site. You should be able to book two pasengers on one booking with different ticket specifications. Just like on Parador hotels web-site where you can book multiple rooms of different types on one booking. As someone who flies 90% of the time with hand luggage only this would be better. If only they would enforce their hand baggage regulations!

  11. Dark Horse says:

    Here’s a funny thing though: pricing up my usual LGW-JER routine has usually cost around £75 return (ET with about two-months notice). Now it comes in at £69. They’ve saved money, sure, but not £10 worth.

    Curiously, the money saved hasn’t come off the underlying price, which is still £4 each way. And it can’t come off the taxes, obviously. Which only leaves the fuel-surcharge.

    Draw your own conclusions from that.

    • Blackberryaddict says:

      I guess the bags weigh so much that not taking them reduces the fuel surcharge 😉

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.