Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Heathrow cuts domestic landing charges – but will fares follow?

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

In a surprisingly low key move, Heathrow Airport reduced the Passenger Service Charge on domestic flights on 1st January.

The cut is a sharp one, although at the same time you might be surprised at how high the fees remain:

Point-to-point departing domestic passengers are now charged £19.13, a reduction of 35%

Passengers transferring to a domestic flight are now charged £14.35, a reduction of 35%

Heathrow Terminal 3 Virgin

The airport calculates that passengers flying to Edinburgh will gain the most, with £6.2m saved each year.

However …..

There is no guarantee that lower fees will result in lower fares.  Logically there is no reason why they should.  British Airways currently has a monopoly from Heathrow on domestic routes.  If it can fill those planes charging its current fares, why should it bother reducing them?  It makes more sense for the airline to pocket the extra £7.75 – £10.35 per passenger.

(BA would argue that it does face competition, from trains and from flights from other London airports.  My personal view is that for most passengers it would take more than £10 to persuade them to change their existing preferred routing.  I live 35 minutes from Heathrow on a quiet day so it would need to be one heck of a saving before I would head out to Luton or Stansted to get a domestic flight.  Similarly it would need to be a pretty chunky saving before I would want to spend hours on a train to Scotland compared to sitting in a BA lounge and then hopping onto a short flight.)

Things are likely to change in March when Flybe launches domestic services on the Heathrow to Edinburgh and Heathrow to Aberdeen routes (see the Flybe website here).  As I wrote here, these services will use the slots previously taken by Virgin Atlantic for its now defunct Little Red operation.  This is what is likely to spur BA to reduce fares, not a cut in the Passenger Service Charge.

Even if Flybe makes a success of these two routes, it has zero possibility of expansion at Heathrow.  With Oman Air paying $76m to Kenya Airways for a landing slot last year – with some additional sweeteners on top – Flybe certainly isn’t going to be picking up any additional routes in a hurry.

What we may see is British Airways moving some aircraft and landing slots from European flights to domestic.  The airline now has a cost base which is up to £10 per person lower when flying to, say, Birmingham instead of Amsterdam.  If it could get the same average fare per available seat, and if all other costs were the same (which obviously they aren’t), it would be generating an additional £1,000+ profit per flight.

How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 2022)

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

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

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

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

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

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

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

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

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.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

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.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

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 (55)

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

  • bill says:

    Living in IOM, the lack of connectivity to LHR means it may as well be the moon. The likes of LGW DUB MAN BHX get more of my flights

  • Allan says:

    I used the plane relief offer in the summer from Edinburgh to Kings cross before taking the tube and HEX to LHR before a CE flight – saved money as no Avios seats from EDI that day and enjoyable train ride. Shame about the weekend catering though in first class.

  • Mark1980 says:

    We desperately need a MAN – LGW service…

  • Polly says:

    In Galleries North, T 5 if anyone wanted guesting in, sorry, meant to post sooner!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Sure someone will take you up on the kind offer.

      FYI wasn’t something I saw suggested in the Open forum but could a page be set up to offer guesting HfP members into lounges? Sure lots of us have status/access but never know when someone has 2 guests vs 1 and could use an additional guesting. Sure some could benefit from being guested into a nicer lounge.

      All part of the fun of travelling for me.

      • Lady London says:

        There’s a page on Flyertalk.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          I know, different “community” though

          I guess it wouldn’t really work unless there was registration of a name rather than free reign like now.

      • Rob says:

        BA had the ‘guesting’ page on Flyertalk removed and I doubt it would last long here.

  • BlueThroughCrimp says:

    I have an ATOC Priv ticket, (so free on the train), and I’ve done the train instead of the domestic to Edinburgh once.
    Never again.
    It’s just not worth the hassle of traipsing the bags through London on the tube/HEX.

  • ThinkSquare says:

    I remember a Virgin West Coast “Plane Relief” where they gave a free 1st Class return to London from Manchester (or Crewe, Stockport etc). You just had to produce a MAN-LHR boarding pass.

    It was a nice freebie but didn’t get me off the plane long term. It’s rare I need to go city centre to city centre, which makes the train a pain.

  • TripleB says:

    The Flyby economic modelling for their LHR routes just got a whole lot healthier!

    If they are planning on running them (potentially at a loss) for 3 IATA years to be able to then use them on European routes (as was suggested on here a few weeks back) – then this is surely a godsend.

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.