British Airways launched a new feature a couple of weeks ago – the ability to lock-in the price of a ticket for up to 72 hours.
Since this is a new feature (with nothing taken away in return!) and it will benefit some people, it has to been seen as a positive move. When you dig into the detail, though, it is not very exciting.
You can hold your seats and the current price for 72 hours
There is a charge of £5 per person short-haul and £10 per person long-haul
You get the fee back if you confirm the booking, otherwise it is lost
So far, so good.
There are three snags:
It is not available within 21 days of departure
You cannot do it if you have an infant in your booking
The ’21 days’ rule is a key one. As we all know, flight prices ramp up sharply the nearer you get to the departure date.
If you are booking a flight four months in advance, you would be a little unlucky if the price went up overnight whilst you ‘had a think’. If you are booking a flight seven days in advance, you can be pretty certain that it will increase day to day.
It is also worth remembering that British Airways has a 24 hour cooling off period. If you have booked a flight and need to cancel within 24 hours, you can do so for a full refund. (I think this rule was forced on BA by the US authorities and it made sense to roll it out to all routes.)
If you need less than 24 hours to get all your friends or family to agree to travel, you might as well save yourself £5 each and just book the flights. If someone doesn’t want to go you can cancel under the cooling off period. The ‘hold your price’ feature only has any merit if you need between 25 and 72 hours to firm up your plans!
There is one occasion where this feature may come in handy and that is at the end of a British Airways sale. If I run an article saying “Last chance – today is the last day to book a flight in the current BA sale”, you could use this new service to buy yourself an extra three days grace to decide.