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Shock BA announcements – some priority baggage WILL now receive priority, and a First Class bus!

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You know the yellow ‘Priority’ tags that British Airways puts on your suitcases when you travel in First Class, Club World or Club Europe?  They don’t do anything.  Nothing.

British Airways has at least now come clean about this, with the launch of a new ‘First for First’ service.

Here are two new services which are being trialled – so don’t get too carried away – at Heathrow:

A dedicated bus for First Class passengers landing on a remote stand

9% of British Airways flights land on remote stands at Heathrow and require a bus transfer to the terminal.

A dedicated First Class bus will now be waiting for long-haul flights.  Other passengers will be blocked from leaving the aircraft until First Class passengers have been driven away.  BA estimates that this will save 10 minutes.

It will NOT be the bus below, which is the bus that Emirates uses for First Class passengers.

Emirates shuttle

I have also reviewed the Qatar Airways first class bus (!).  I doubt it will look like that either ….

Priority baggage handling for First Class passengers

Yes, BA will genuinely be offering priority baggage services to First Class passengers.

Obviously this comes with caveats:

It is only a trial

It only applies for flights from New York JFK, Los Angeles, Dubai and Johannesburg into Heathrow

First Class bags will all be placed in the same container which will be loaded last.  This means that it will be the first container unloaded after landing.  An area will be cordoned off next to the luggage belt and the First Class bags lifted off by a staff member and placed there for collection.

This is clearly beyond the scope of the baggage handlers at Heathrow so it won’t be happening on your outbound flight.

We shouldn’t be too cynical, of course, as positive change is generally the result of many small incremental steps instead of one ‘big bang’ event.  BA does tend to take very small steps though …

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  1. BluehorizonUK says:
    • Interesting. It says you won’t get a sign up because bonus for the credit card as an existing charge card holder, but it’s not clear if that means you still wouldn’t get one if you closed the charge card and waited 6 months. Maybe that’s what all the rumours have been about recently!

      • You will if you wait 6 months. Standard rules apply – you get a bonus if you’ve had no MR account for 6 months.

        • Great, strategy not totally derailed then. You even get the Lounge Club cards as well!

  2. I thought the T5 baggage system could cope with priority containers (based on ticket information, not the presence of other tags). So it would be a fairly easy task to put all the First (+ CW?) bags together.

    What may be needed is “Unload me first” stickers, in multiple languages, stuck to the side of the container(s) so that they can be easily identified at the destination. The problem with having a dedicated container is that if they are unloaded in the wrong order then all the first class bags may be delivered last.

    It is also desirable to avoid a fake priority baggage system where instead of speeding up priority bags the rest are merely slowed down- having priority bags arrive at the same time as they would have anyway but delaying everyone else is a bit pointless (apart from the egos of the people collecting their bags first!).

  3. For what it’s worth, bags for first class passengers are consistently the first ones off when flying to PHX, generally at the same time as crew bags, even when they are tagged with orange tags by an outstation on connecting flights. I do think that BA already puts the first class bags in a separate container, but not enough airports unload bags in the right order.

  4. I saw the First Class baggage collection yesterday at the Dubai/Joburg carousel. It just has some barriers saying “first collection point” at the end of the carousel. No one used it and we all waited an hour for the luggage to materialise!!

  5. So there has always been priority baggage… This announcement is that First will have dedicated priority instead of mixed with Club…

    • 50% of bags will come out in the first half, it doesn’t mean they’ve been prioritised 🙂

      • Ha Ha

        • Newquay Brown says:

          xcalx: I grabbed Truro-LHR for £1 on Europcar today as well as it might be easier getting there (& cancellation is free T-48hrs). Their computer was rubbish again so I somehow managed to book 2 of the same £1 one-way date/ combo. Even though it said only 1 available.

          Proves that there is loads of availability on defined routes, which have suddenly multiplied. They probably worked out it is saving them plenty of money vs shipping a rental car back on a lorry.

  6. Thanks ( totally) , to HFP I have managed some first class award flights in the last couple of years. Never did it occur to me that the bags were not prioritised. Until , of course at JFK a mix of passengers ( and my nearest and dearest) were all queuing to file a lost bag claim. And still I did not join up the dots. Thank you for the reality check.

  7. ChrisC says:

    “This is clearly beyond the scope of the baggage handlers at Heathrow so it won’t be happening on your outbound flight.”

    That’s rather insulting. Making it look like it’s too complicated for the staff to manage.

    If BA wanted it to happen at LHR then it would happen – they would change the contracts of those involved in baggage handling and if necessary pay HAL to make the software changes to the sorting system.

  8. Tarka says:


    Your experiences of BA lately matches others that I read about on Flyertalk and I have also experienced some of what you talk about. Is it possible for you to fly wth other airlines at all? I have been slowly trying out other alternatives such as Brussels Airlines, Swiss, SAS and even Air Europa to Madrid. I might just have been lucky but so far (touch wood) they have all been better experiences than BA.

    I have a BA to Brussels soon and am actually dreading it (it will probably be ok) with the amount of GCH and Priority boarders on this flight and me with my wheelie case, will I get it in an overhead locker or not?

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