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How do BA’s new short-haul fare classes (Basic, Plus, Plus Flex) price up?

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Back in February, British Airways announced an overhaul of its short haul economy fare structure yesterday.

Then it all went quiet although the fares were available for purchase.

This was because someone at BA decided that the names for the three fare classes – ‘Hand Baggage Only’, ‘With Checked Bag’ and ‘Fully Flex’ – were not catchy enough.

The new ticket class names which have just been introduced are ‘Basic’, ‘Plus’ and ‘Plus Flex’.

British Airways 350 2

What has changed?

The first big change is that Basic (previously Hand Baggage Only) is no longer sold as semi-flexible or fully flexible tickets.  This removed the stupid situation whereby – as happened to my wife recently – someone could pay £500 for a fully flexible short-haul economy flight but, because it was booked as Hand Baggage Only, could not select a seat until check-in opened.  Even status did not help.

The second big change is that Plus and Plus Flex tickets can be changed for FREE on the day of departure.

Ah, but won’t this cost me a fortune?

I am a grumpy old cynic and wrote, back in February:

“the only thing that is not clear is how big the price gap between ‘Hand Baggage Only’ and ‘With Checked Bag’ will be.  It almost certainly will not be the £10 or so currently seen.”

And yet, I am wrong.  Plus tickets do seem to offer excellent value for money, primarily due to the ability to change planes for free.

Here are a couple of examples of varying distances:

Hamburg – Plus is £15 each-way more than Basic

Milan – Plus is £15 each-way more than Basic

Istanbul – Plus is £20-£26 each-way more than Basic

On most routes, an extra £30 per person will get you free seat selection from 48 hours before departure (or immediately if you have status), 1 x free suitcase and the option to change your seat to another flight on the day of departure.

You can play games with this new policy of course.  If you are prepared to live with a small amount of risk, you could book the cheapest flight on any particular day in Flex, knowing that you can switch to another – more expensive – flight on the day.  Unless that flight is 100% full, you can move without paying a penny.  Changes can be made up to one hour before departure.

The new fare classes in detail

Here are the key characteristics of each new short-haul ticket class:

Basic

Standard hand baggage allowance (no Checked Baggage allowance)

Seating allocated at check-in or paid for seat selection

Flight changes can be made for a fee plus any difference in fare

Plus

Includes a 23kg Checked Baggage allowance, plus the standard hand baggage allowance

Free seat selection from 48 hours prior to departure

Free flight changes on the day of departure, up to one hour before scheduled flight time

Plus Flex

Fully refundable

Includes a 23kg Checked Baggage allowance, plus the standard hand baggage allowance

Free seat selection at time of booking

Free flight changes on the day of departure, up to one hour before scheduled flight time

No change fees (a fare difference may apply if flight is changed before day of departure)

On UK domestic routes, Fully Flex fares will be branded ‘Business UK’. These fares include access to British Airways’ lounges and Priority Boarding.

Club Europe fares are unaffected.  Short haul tickets booked as a transfer to a long haul flight will also not be covered by these changes and will be driven by the fare rules of the long haul ticket.

Here are the rules for the ‘free flight changes’ on Plus and Plus Flex tickets:

Flights can be changed on the same day for free to an earlier or later available flight. The customer’s original flight and the flight they change to must both be within 00:00 and 23:59 local time of the departure airport. At least one hour’s notice must be given prior to the scheduled departure time.

The routing (origin and destination airports) must remain unchanged. Routing or date changesmade on the original day of departure may incur fare and/or tax differences, as usual.

Changes are subject to availability on the new flight in the same cabin as the original flight.

These changes are genuinely positive for short haul travellers, especially as the fare difference between Basic and Flex is modest.


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As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

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Until 18th July 2022 there is an astonishing special offer on these cards. You get 50,000 Avios on the Avios Plus Mastercard and 10,000 Avios on the free Avios Mastercard. You can apply here. We strongly recommend getting the Avios Plus card whilst this offer is running.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

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There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

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You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

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Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

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You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

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There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

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Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (103)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • harry says:

    Early adopters probably queered it for the rest of us!

    Raffles you complete *!&££!

  • harry says:

    No matter I’m still quids in, sailors!

    £200 a month @ ATM & my shopping @ Lidl means I’ll get 5000 more Avios a year, which surely justifies my £75 fee 🙂

  • David says:

    Its a financial product and as they’ve signed up customers and taken payment Curve can’t argue the product is in Beta snymote

    They will need to give customers 28 days notice of these changes in writing. Still worth a punt if you are in business, which is the target audience.

  • Robin says:

    Be warned that the new Plus fare flexibility only seems to work smoothly on the outbound flight. I’ve just tried to make a change to an inbound flight (where I had changed the outbound previously). Website doesn’t allow the change at all, and call centre staff (Silver Hotline) have no knowledge of the Same Day Free Changes rule.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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