BA clamping down on ex-EU tickets – our first example?

Three weeks ago I wrote about the new British Airways campaign to clamp down on travellers who buy tickets from another European country – because they are substantially cheaper than starting in London – but then fail to take the last leg from London to their starting point.

There was much discussion, both on here and elsewhere, about whether British Airways was serious.

Here is an email I received from a long-time HFP reader a couple of days ago.  I have not edited it at all.

British Airways 350 2

“You recently ran an article on a BA clampdown on the final leg of ex-EU flights. I have recently returned from the US and thought I would share my experience as is fits with what you described.

We had book a US flight ex Dublin arriving back in LHR and then connecting to Dublin. As a precaution had our return to London from Dublin booked later in the evening. I thought we would escape because the final leg was going to be the same day!

When we requested to have our bags put through only to London we were met with major resistance at the airport. The check in desk declined to do this and issued our boarding passes and referred us to the ticket desk. At the ticket desk they initially indicated that it would be a change of ticket and we would have to pay a price difference.

We were asked to prove we intended to take the flight to Dublin and they asked for the booking reference of the positioning flight to show that we were planning to fly and not simply going to miss the flights. The request was escalated to the back office and eventually they agreed to book the bags only through to London – security was also given as a reason for not wanting to permit this as well etc! It was made very clear that we were lucky they agreed to let us do this and that it would not be allowed again.

However as things worked out I needed to take the Dublin flight as a family emergency arose. (My colleague missed his connection.)

I share the above as it seems that there is a clear push to make sure people connect to their final destination when returning to another EU city on the same day.”

Whilst one example does not mean much in itself, it is worth bearing in mind.  The only way to ensure that this does not happen to you is to book your final leg from Gatwick or City, or leave a gap of a week or month before taking the last leg – although this adds Air Passenger Duty to your fare and actually makes your ticket look suspicious.
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  1. Sorry, but I think BA should have refused his request.

    If he had just booked an overnight in LHR then it would not have been an issue.

    If people wish to avoid paying the UK taxes, then they must be prepared to do the full journey. Or book two separate flights. Simples.

    • I agree.
      I always wonder whether any of the people who take this opportunity to avoid paying tax then rant about other ‘wicked tax avoiders’.

    • This is nothing to do with avoiding tax. The additional tax is only £162 but savings are usually £1000+

      • so that is £162 tax avoided. It is the principle that matters not the amount.
        There are other savings too.

        • So I imagine you’ll be getting on your high-horse about how BA pockets AA fuel surcharges when booking on, when the fuel surcharges themselves don’t even exist?

  2. To avoid any real drama:

    – Take carry on luggage only
    – Change airports in London (LCY/LGW)
    – Take the final leg

  3. Just fly ex EU on QR or another OW , then just position yourself there and back. You still get TP and avios, and less risk all around of annoying BA. Let’s not kill another golden goose, for goodness!

    • Richard says:

      Quite right. Have done this multiple times without grief 🙂

    • Exactly, for cash tickets why endure the hassles of flying to Europe, to then fly into LHR, to then fly back out (and all of it with BA). Flying out of the EU direct with Qatar sounds a far better idea. Only issue is this doesn’t work (yet) for flying to the US.

    • I don’t think I’d ever bother dropping the last leg – too much hassle, too much risk. Not worth it. It’s flagrant abuse of the fare to do so – equivalent of travelling short on a train ticket. I still don’t really buy the logic behind the huge difference in fares if departing ex-EU, but them’s the rules, so you have to play by them.

      The only exception I’d make to that is 1) genuine serious ill health; and 2) the situation set out by Danksy above, where the airline’s own error means you do not have time for the last leg. I think that in those situations, the airline should allow you to get off at LHR.

  4. Cheshire Pete says:

    Complete opposite happened when I flew ALC-MAD-LHR-MAN year before, they said we would need to either collect our bags at MAD or LHR and would not check thru as they said it wasn’t possible. All One World flights.

    I never believed this for 1 minute and have since done the same journey again fully checked thru, which brings me to the point that sometimes it’s just the happen chance of the checkin staff on duty knowing / not knowing the procedures.

    Interesting also I’ve had bags checked through involving multiple booking numbers, and they happily piece them together and check it all through. Which brings up the point if you did have a flight backed booked to Dublin via LHR and then a separate booking to bring you back to London, would they then do the full check thru back to London again !

  5. Change airport is the best solution, has to work every time….

  6. Blah blah blah. Go hand baggage only. Don’t start unnecessary conversations with checkin agents etc. This is basic stuff guys.

    All the people who worry about this and who love to keep posting about this should really just start paying full price from London. It’ll make life easier for you and for us by not having to constantly want to smash my head against a wall when I read another ‘report’ of ‘clamping down’.

  7. encountered the same in JFK the other week, agent was not really willing to check bag to LHR due to the fact I “only” had 12 hour layover for the last leg, however, the guys on the gold check in desk were more helpful, no questions asked.

  8. j peters says:

    It is a well known industry fact that hundreds of these go through weekly without any kind of incident. I would not be surprised if this was a scare article deliberately put out there in order to scare people.

    Perhaps the more interesting question is why a certain airline considers it morally credit to regard UK as a centre for rip off tactics. Yet another reason for the flying public to vote with their feet.

    • I have an Ex DUB to SEA and have a change from LHR to LGW on the return journey. I Have a separate ticket booked LHR to GLA.

      This is the first time I have done this kind of cheap ticket, but in the future I will just do the final leg. I’m rather stressed that by the time I take the flight in Jan BA might penalise my Account in some way (ie not award the Avios/TP) or worse still close it down.

      My lesson has been learned !

      • It wont happen, people just panick for nothing, what would they earn on doing this? losing customers?
        I mean if you want to travel just to have a nice seat, dont put your membership number in, what do they worth these days anyway, if you really need the avios, then just fly the last leg as everyone suggest.
        I am still adamant to the fact that if they want people to respect their fare rules, they should tax less, period.
        I dont see it as a tax evasion as some boring comments I saw earlier state, it’s a free world, do whatever pleases or is convenient to you.

    • No, the author is a long-time HFP reader

    • All airlines do it from the UK. You seem to imply it’s just BA but that’s plainly not true.

  9. BlackberryAddict says:

    Firstly, this has got nothing to tax evasion. Secondly, it has nothing to do with “rip off” tactics. It is market pricing, pure and simple. And equally KL, QR, EK and many other airlines will offer discounts for flying indirect from the UK via their homehub to somewhere else, but they too charge higher prices for tickets originating in their home market. Passenger, and especially business travellers, will pay more for direct flights without the hassle of connections. In fat, reading the letter writer’s story, it would appear this was a business traveller (he is talking about his colleague). That might actually irk BA more, because they do expect business travellers to pay the full whack (although many don’t)

    Now, we came back from the US last week as well on an ex-DUB. While we intended to take the final sector and had booked the positioning flight, by the time BA had messed us around with their cancellations, our return flights were a day later, and I did not have the extra time off work. So we skipped the final sector as well. When we checked in, there was no problem in short checking the bag to London. And my Avios/TPs have posted.

  10. I almost feel sorry for you BA flyers. Almost being the operative word. Then I sit back and laugh.

    Christ, how much must it suck to have what is essentially a budget airline that charges premium prices, as a national monopolised carrier.

  11. To be honest, I think this is just rubbish talk.

    There’s nothing on the law that says that I have to fly even if I bought a ticket. I still consider that we live in a free world. If you buy a sandwich do you have to eat it even if you aren’t hungry? Can’t you just toss it? Or a car? Or a house? One can argue that it would’t be morally corrupt behaviour, but it is my right, as it is my right not to take a particular flight. I paid for the flight, full stop. Whether I’ve started my journey in Dublin, in Madrid or Dusseldorf and end my journey in Lisbon, Paris or London that’s nobody’s concern. If the system let me book the ticket I’m doing nothing wrong. It is my right to take the first flight, the second or the last flight. Or Not. If they refuse to reroute my bag to the stopover destination I can understand that. But financial penalties or Avios penalties? They would’t be in business for long, if for each missed last leg (either intentionally or accidentally) they would apply any kind of penalty.

    As for the greedy argument of doing this kind of game? Why is that? It is just as greed as someone looking into different supermarkets trying to find a cheaper product or ordering something from China or the USA because it’s cheaper. And talking of greedy? Isn’t the overbooking process greedy?

    I think it’s about time aviation play the same rules as other industry sectors and not behave as a powerful all mighty that treat customers, passengers as they will and nobody interferes. I’m indeed very glad that the EU started to clamp down on the aviation and the like.

    • I don’t understand this arguement…If I pay for a service and dont use it what. BA has my cash…theyve probably had it for months. I fly to where ever..and on the way home..i dont finish the what.I’ve payed what they wanted for the flight…surely I can do what I want with it. If I decide I want to cut it short…surely thats my decision. If i order a meal..and pay for it…but dont finish it…so the bar staff and the chef come over to my table and refuse to let me leave without finishing my burger and chips??

      • Equally, I don’t get what’s so hard to understand about you agreeing to fly all flights at the time specified.

        Though you know full well that your argument is a load of rubbish. At least I hope you do, it’s very basic common sense… Your barman isn’t charging different prices based on where you start drinking the beer. A more apt example is you going into a Scarborough pub, buying a drink then taking it to a more expensive London branch. “But it’s the same drink and I’ve bought it from your company – what are you losing…” – the London premium. Which is exactly what BA lose with these fares.

        Which doesn’t mean I see anything morally wrong with “abusing” them (I do it too), merely that you have no right to whinge about it.

  12. PantsFlyer says:

    Rightly or wrongly I’ve booked an Ex-Eu with the family in tow.
    We have the last leg on the day after we return to LHR, so I was hoping to avoid these issues.
    However even if it goes to plan these ‘rumours’ have had the desired affect, and I won’t have to stomach to book another Ex-Eu in the future.


    It’s fine to me to join this program

  14. Often booking ex-EU as an open jaw terminating in the UK is no more expensive than a straight return to the departure point.

    • Sometimes that is the case but others not – I recently tried to book an Ex-Eu ticket ending in London and it added almost 240 to the price quoted.

      • Daniel…Not bad though if you have saved 2k on the flights in the first place. …I now look at that option too. It might take the pressure off the return part.

  15. BA have added this warning to ex-EU bookings in the last few weeks ….
    “Very important information
    If you do not check your bags through to your final destination you may incure (sic) additional charges”

    • Good spot. But if you have a different departure airport from London they can’t do a next day bag transfer? So technically you might not make flight for any number of reasons. .

    • Richmond says:

      This warning is absolutely non relevant if you change airport, do overnight stay or fly hand baggage only. It may be relevant if you don’t take last flight, your bag is offloaded from plane and it causes delays.

  16. scibuff says:

    That is just dumb … if you not gonna take the last flight, don’t ask for having your bags short-checked. If the reader didn’t plan on flying the last segment, he should have had it moved for the following day so that there would be an overnight at LON. So simple an easy, instead of alerting the airline to the scheme … but what can one expect from people who have absolutely no idea about how tricks work but happily use them to save a $

    • You being a prime example of such a person….

      Moving your connection to the following day can result in additional charges. You did a same day airport change to take advantage of this…

      • scibuff says:

        no it wont because a stop of less than 24 hours is not a stopover but a connection and as long as the flight has seats available in the required fare, the price will be the same.

  17. Boddingtons says:

    As a side note, a relative who lives in Doha booked MAN-DOH-BAH with a 12 hour layover in Doha since it was cheaper than just MAN-DOH. Check-in agent at MAN refused to check bags to Doha only. The tried to claim they had a medical need for the bags to be retrieved upon arrival in Doha however they would not release the bags without paying the fare difference to get off at DOH.

    I think Qatar have a note in their fare rules citing that if layover in Doha is less than 24hours bags must be tagged to final destination.

  18. Patrick says:

    Have booked from DUB to LA via Heathrow, on the return I understand that the chances of getting bags tagged just to LHR is slim. At Heathrow, if I was to clear immigration and go landside and wait until after the DUB flight (the last DUB of the day) had departed, then I would not have met conformance so bags should not have been loaded and cause no delay to the flight. If they offer to rebook me for the morning would they allow me to have my bags back overnight?