British Airways clamping down on dropped final legs of ex-EU tickets

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Historically, British Airways has been very casual about people who dropped the final segment on an ex-EU long haul flight.

What I mean, in plain English, is that if you booked a Club World ticket from Dublin to London to Somewhere to London to Dublin, BA would not cause you any trouble if you did not fly the final London to Dublin leg.

(Why would you book a ticket out of Dublin in the first place?  Because, given the right sale conditions, it could be 75% cheaper than starting in London!)

Two people, independently, told me last week that British Airways will begin to take a harder line.  Both of these people are very close to the situation.

The trigger has been the ludicrously cheap tickets to Hong Kong which British Airways is selling from Germany.  These are £1,000 return in Club World – the offer has been extended to this Friday as my other article today explains.  It appears that BA intends to continue to sell tickets at these prices to counteract heavy discounting by the Middle East carriers and Turkish, but needs to ensure it protects its revenue.

If the final leg of your Germany to Hong Kong ticket is a few months after the Hong Kong to London leg, be aware.  Your card is marked.  British Airways will be watching to make sure you take the final flight to Germany.

British Airways clamping down on dropped final legs of ex-EU tickets

Anyone who booked the final leg for the same day or day after their return from Hong Kong has less to worry about.  Those tickets look real and there are many genuine reasons why an unexpected situation could detain you in London and meant you missed the last flight ….

If you do not take the final leg of a booked flight, BA has the right to reassess your fare and charge you for the cost of a Germany – Hong Kong – London ticket.  This would be a bill for a large amount of money.

This could all be ‘talk’ by British Airways, of course.  If you refused to pay their invoice, they would need to pursue you in court for the money and I doubt that they would want to risk a judgement going against them.

However, the two people who told me about this do not know each other and work at totally different ends of the travel spectrum.  Both have seen or heard this message directly from BA in the last week.

If you have a one-way ticket from London to Frankfurt showing in for next year, months after you return from Hong Kong, you may want to take a day off work and make a day trip.  You’d get the tier points and Avios from the Club Europe leg anyway so it is worth doing it!

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  1. I think this is probably more an issue for those who live in London – I’d have to book a return to EDI from LHR anyway and once Little Red disappear that could only be with BA. Given that’s not an option if trying to miss your last leg then you’re stuck travelling to another London airport – personally I’d prefer just to enjoy the lounge and extra points, then connect on to my EU destination and home from there. AA are strict about denying FF points on their cheap Caribbean fares for those who miss the last leg and I agree that BAEC account closure is the most likely consequence, rather than court action. Personally I wouldn’t want to risk that given my Avios balance!

  2. where2travel says:

    The strange thing here is that they seem to be going after the wrong group.

    So for my ex-FRA flight to HKG, I have deliberately but the final London-Berlin leg several months after the return flight to London. For a small fare increase, I get the start of a weekend away in Berlin when I want it.

    Presumably it’s those that book the same day final legs that are most likely to skip it, no? And that’s the scenario they’re not bothered about?

    • Brian says:

      Good point. As you say, if you weren’t intending to take the flight, why would you bother booking it for much later??

    • The through-checking of bags makes it difficult unless you take the last leg from another airport. You can book Germany flights from City Airport though …

  3. Interestingly I booked an ex EU with BA on Friday and noticed for the first time that in the email there was “A Very Important” message that stated that not checking your bags to the final destination could lead to additional charges being levied. It seems as though BA are attacking the practice from various fronts. Fortunately, the ticket rules allowed me a free stopover in London on the return and so for the first time I will be using the final leg – even if it is to start my next ex EU trip!!

  4. Hey BA (as I’m sure you’re reading), before you start worrying about this, can you sort out why it’s currently taking around 6 weeks to manually process a refund…

    • Which is actually a breach of consumer law. They are legally obliged to process refunds within 30 days, if they don’t then take them to court, it’s the only way they will sit up, listen and learn!

      • Well that may be so, but how many people would be happy to just wait for 6 weeks and get a full refund rather than having to bother going to court (which would incur some sort of costs even if BA ends up paying a bit more)

  5. I’m surprised BA’s IT can handle this, given that it couldn’t sort out the correct procedure for managing the clocks going back in November for my ex KUL flight.

    I’m also surprised this is BA’s attempt to counter the middle east carriers. If I fly from Europe then its ‘direct’ to a middle east hub before onward travel. With BA it means flying back to Heathrow, enduring various delays, queues and a below average lounge experience, followed by using a business class product which can’t compete with the likes of Qatar. If I lived in Germany this isn’t how I would want to get to Hong Kong!

    • @alastairtravel says:

      I can assure you that the BA IT team can handle identifying this practice.

      The issue to me is what is enforceable.

    • This is the point – if you were going to the trouble of taking an exEU, why go BA?

  6. To be honest I really don’t care anymore, as soon as I have used my BA companion vouchers I’ll just stop using BA. For short haul, easyjet and other carriers suit me fine. For long haul, I’ve flown with Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, qantas and the service, entertainment and food has been always much better than BA. I only fly economy, so I couldn’t care less if they start doing this. After the Avios devaluation there’s no reason anymore to be using BA uncourteous service.
    Even the BA companion voucher is flawed for those, like me, travelling economy. I was last week looking at a redemption LHR – JNB for my 2-4-1 voucher and the price came as 41250 Avios + £ 708, meaning £354pp.
    For the same journey, on the same dates, I’d be paying £472 with Middle east carriers. So, what’s the point of going through the hassle of collecting miles to pay absurd taxes? It’s way more flexible just to buy a standard ticket with Emirates and the like. Unless you have a last minute issue and for some miracle are to redeem a ticket last minute, Avios are now close to useless.

    • czechoslovakia says:

      Those miracles occasionally actually happen. Managed to get a last minute Club Europe (last 1) MAN-PRG, only 3 days in advance last week. Cheapest economy was £400+ with anybody with seats, Easyjet / Jet2 were full. For once I feel I got value out of those 13k avios – cash price was £565!

    • If you only travel economy the Avios ‘devaluation’ doesn’t affect you negatively. In fact if you travel ‘off-peak’, economy redemptions with BA require fewer Avios than before.

      That said if I only ever travelled economy I doubt I would be going out of my way to collect 2for1 vouchers. On a long haul flight you’re generally likely to find it cheaper to go with the cheapest cash fare and use any Avios towards hotel accommodation (or focus your collection opportunities elsewhere) than doing a flight redemption. That’s nothing new, in fact it is less true since April for off-peak economy redemptions.

      The best use of Avios for economy flights is short haul where a 2for1 is worth relatively little.

  7. James67 says:

    BA are ludicrous, just another example of why EU needs to introduce further regulatiins to protect passengers interests. Also shows BA continue sleepwalking to disaster. The ME3 are here too, in the recent EY 30% discount you could get J seat UK-Asia for £1200 rtn including tax. If BA want to compete they should give ‘B’customers £1k fares too. Why should we pay more for what is a premium economy product with a privacy screen. My greatest hope is that Scottish Government halves or scraps APD as soon as they can do so, and the ME3 plus TK start offering sub £1* fares from here too.

    • Interesting to see if Scottish Government scraps/reduces APD. We could be talking about ex-Scotland fares instead 😉

  8. James says:

    It would be interesting to know whether this information came from people working for BA, or from a travel agency for example.

    • Indeed. I really don’t see how they can make this stick against individuals. Travel agents are another thing altogether.

  9. Marly says:

    If you really dont care about collecting avios but just want a ‘nice’ seat by flying CW, open an AA account and just don’t put your BAEC number into your booking. Period.

  10. Cheshire Pete says:

    Out of interest, if your bags are checked thru and you ‘miss’ a connecting flight for whatever reason, don’t they get off loaded anyhow? What’s the procedure for then picking them up again? Anyone done this?

    • No. Don’t go there – you’ll end up delaying the flight and give them a really good reason to come after you.

  11. If you were worried surely you could use the free combine my avios to transfer your points out to Iberia or before undertaking any flight?

    I have an ex-Dub booked, and BA have already cancelled the final Dublin leg (actually they have cancelled or changed three out of four legs already!), and rebooked me onto an unworkable alternative 5 hours earlier, leaving from Gatwick three hours after I land in Heathrow. I don’t see that being possible by the time I get through immigration, baggage, get my car back out of parking, get to Gatwick, and check in and get through Gatwick security! Unfortunately, I think it will be their fault when I miss that leg and if they try to penalise me I can’t see it being legal. I booked a workable transfer and they have cancelled it!

    • Oh and should mention that is all in the morning rush hour following an overnight flight. Heathrow to Gatwick in Rush hour? No chance!

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