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British Airways has stopped selling tickets for short-haul flights from Heathrow

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British Airways has decided to suspend the sale of tickets on short haul flights from London Heathrow for travel today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday).

This may be extended beyond Saturday but a decision has yet to be taken.

This appears to have been done to both meet Heathrow’s capacity caps and to give BA flexibility to move passengers whose flights are cancelled at short notice.

BA has stopped selling tickets for short-haul flights from Heathrow for today and tomorrow

Here is the notice circulated to the travel trade a few minutes ago:

“To further support this goal and minimise additional close-in bookings which risk us exceeding the caps, as well as to enable us to reaccommodate any passengers whose flights are impacted at short notice, we’ve made the difficult decision to temporarily limit access to inventory on short-haul flights from London Heathrow, currently until the 30th July.

For technical reasons, we still need to permit access to BA office ID’s / IATA’s to allow us to reaccommodate passengers which consequently means that you may see some inventory available via ba.com that is not available via any GDS or via NDC.

Please be aware that the aim of this additional action is not to favour or drive last-minute sales via ba.com at a time when we’re operating within strict capacity caps and are encouraging customers to voluntarily move their travel plans to alternate dates. For technical reasons, we’re simply unable to open British Airways inventory designed for passenger reaccommodation without the side effect of also enabling some minimal selling.

We don’t intend to keep this additional short-term measure in place a moment longer than necessary and will be reviewing next week with a view to lifting it as soon as we possibly can. That said, we do want to be open and transparent in that limited inventory will continue to be a challenge in all channels for carriers operating from Heathrow until the capacity caps are removed. 

We apologise for the inconvenience this will cause and would like to thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we work through this challenging period together.

Whilst travel agents have been blocked entirely from selling tickets, some ba.com availability remains bookable because this is the only way that agents can rebook. However if we look at, say, Amsterdam for tomorrow, this is what you get:

The Business tickets being sold are fully flexible ones, at £681 each way …. if you’re willing to pay that then BA will ensure you get on, even if someone else does not.


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Comments (48)

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

  • James says:

    They have also withdrawn some LCY

  • Lady London says:

    All as predicted. Miraculously BA will be able to accommodate anyone paying an outrageously high fare even if it means denying travel to someone who paid a fair and lower fare months ago who will lose a lot of money in car parking extra charges, potential loss of uncancellable hotel where they’re travelling to, and possibly things like redoing covid tests if required for the other, ex-EU trip, they were connecting to possibly on a separate ticket or even separate airline, may even miss their ex-EU, and all for no compensation.

    Unfortunately despite this meaning some travel passengers booked and paid for will now be taken away and effevtively ‘auctioned’ off to others, BA and the nomperforming airports have got it sewn up to classify as ATC requiring this and not their own attempts to reduce staff pay packages that have backfired on them.

    I hope you’ve all got decent travel insurance because the knock-on effects of this could be very costly for some people.

    • Allan says:

      How are they managing to call it an ATC restriction at this short notice?

    • Stu N says:

      LadyLondon, I usually enjoy your contributions but you seem to have taken a bit of a flier on this one.

      From the article:
      “Whilst travel agents have been blocked entirely from selling tickets, some ba.com availability remains bookable because this is the only way that agents can rebook.”

      BA are basically saying “We can’t rebook people if we have pulled all our inventory from the system so anything that is available is now full fare Y/ J to discourage new bookings”.

      • AirMax says:

        Thank you for interpreting it Stu. Not sure about GDS or NDC but it’s evident that they aren’t trying to sell more.

        • meta says:

          It’s the limitation of their IT. It is the way decided to design their IT and it’s deliberately designed like that. Nothing else. Just like their 12 month validity rule. It is just that. IATA systems allow all sorts of things in case of irregular operations, but BA is not using it and not training their agents to know about them.

          • Nick says:

            @meta it might be a limitation of BA IT but it’s also the limitation of every airline around the world that uses Amadeus as PSS. Yes BA’s IT is crap, but not everything is by their design or entirely their fault. I’d like to see you try getting Amadeus to change anything…

          • meta says:

            @Nick That’s not true. There are no such limitations within Amadeus. Bad airlines pretend there are. I have been rebooked beyond 12 months validity on many airlines during pandemic. Airlines can keep inventory hidden as I have also been rebooked on a flight when flights were seemingly off sale pre-pandemic.

          • Nick says:

            I meant the sale class limitation, which is 100% an Amadeus thing. Ticketing limits are an IATA rule, but as you say technology-wise this can be overruled.

      • meta says:

        It is not discouraging new booking though. Anyone can book those and claim from BA later should they wish. BA decides to cancel your ticket, you can book yourself one of those flexible tickets straight away on the same flight. You can go to court and I am pretty sure you’ll not only get the price difference returned, but compensation as well. Flight took off and you were practically denied boarding.

        • Lady London says:

          What a good idea @meta. So we know BA is going to get away with an exemption from payng compensation due to being able yo point to the exceptional circumstance of “Air Traffic Control made us do it”.

          But if you are still able to purchase a seat on that same flight, albeit it will be at a very high price, then that turns your claim into a denied boarding one. For which exemption from paying compo does not apply?

          It would be nice to imagine that in court BA’s protestations of “but we only left seats available on flights we offloaded people from because we only wanted travel agents to be able to use them”, would not hold up?

          • Jen T says:

            Significant air traffic control restrictions are generally available online at the Eurocontrol website – easily checked by members of the public. I don’t think that “excuse” has been used much this year, as another writer above suggests.

        • Stu N says:

          @meta it will cut new bookings to a trickle. Passengers at this time of year is almost all leisure traffic so no-one is going to shell out that amount of money to get somewhere unless they really have to. Even “family emergency” type situations, you’d probably look at alternatives given the eyewatering price of a full fare ticket on BA.

          • meta says:

            You’d be surprised how desparate people are to get away. Travelling is still a privelege mind you. People have money saved up so money is not usually a problem. See @Froggee’s family trip report to Jersey for example.

    • Ian says:

      I’ve just checked Manchester to Heathrow tomorrow and BA will offer me an economy ticket for £111. That doesn’t strike me as an “outrageously high fare”.

      • Rob says:

        No rules on flights into Heathrow, only out of it.

        • Pete M says:

          Husband’s company just paid over £700 one way to fly him LCY-BER later in August…

  • Brian78 says:

    Terrible use of apostrophes in their statement

    • Mike says:

      That is what I thought too. Do BA not have anyone that can grammar check before release.

      • Alan says:

        They don’t have people with a decent grasp of IT or geography outwith the M25 so I wouldn’t be hopeful!

  • Roberto says:

    There does seem a lot of capacity still in the short term. My next Malaga to London flight on the 12th of August in one of 9 flights that day into Heathrow (5) , Gatwick (2) and LCY (2).

    I was fully expecting some of the flights to have been culled by now as its T+14 today but as yet all remain in place.

    Tickets are available for 8 of the 9 flights. The last is full to the brim. Demand must be sky high still as are the prices on most of them.

  • Insider says:

    This has been the case for a week or so and extends further than today and tomorrow on some routes

  • Lady London says:

    I would expect this to repeat from now at least for peak summer weekends

    @Stu N yeah I take a lot of fliers as you say :-). That’s how it’s presented but auctioning is a natural consequence.

  • BJ says:

    It is increasingly unacceptable to me that while state run companies and organisations along with individuals who are totally or partly reliant on State benefits are all subject to targets and sanctions yet the private sector from energy to transport and everything inbetween largely escape such accountability, regulation and sanctions and continue to profit in the face of enormous failures in consumer standards, servicing and protections. Surely at some point something has to give and the private sector must be brought into line? And for clarity, I am not referring to the self employed or small business owners but to those large national and multinational organisations.

    • Andrew says:

      State run organisations are subject to more sanctions than large private companies?? Councils have been on a go slow for over two years now, getting an appointment with your GP takes weeks, ambulances have waiting times of hours and schools closed because it was hot for two days. Users of these public services have literally zero comeback over these deficiences. At least when an airline cancels your flight they’re obligated to get you where you wanted to go and maybe pay compensation as well. Energy supply is also hugely regulated. Thank heavens there’s a price cap even if it has caused over 30 private companies to go bust over the last year.

      This isn’t a public sector good, private sector bad issue. All companies and organisations have been screwed over by disruption from covid, lockdowns and now rising costs and all need to raise their game to get back to the level of service they were providing three years ago.

      • John says:

        @Andrew

        * Councils are on a “go slow” as you describe it because they have been decimated by cuts to staffing and services. Their already paltry salaries are less competitive than ever in the labour market.
        * GP surgeries are private businesses. They are essentially reimbursed by the NHS for seeing you. Perhaps the consultation recharge isn’t generous enough, or perhaps being GP is actually quite sh** and too few people want to prescribe anti depressants for their whole career.
        * Did independent (private) and academy schools exceptionally remain open during Covid and/or the heatwave? No they did not…

        • Andrew says:

          I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make @John. I agree with everything in your post. My post was merely pointing out that these problems exist in both the private and public sector and a user of these services actually has more comeback when the provider is a private company which is completely contrary to what @BJ wrote.

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    Yes, still Avios tickets INBOUND to LHR from Scotland.

    Obviously you don’t need as many staff to unload bags as you do to load them!

    • Nick says:

      Somewhat unbelievably, BA actually has the staff, this move is entirely driven by the HAL cap. This is only imposed on LHR outbounds, not inbounds, hence the view you’re seeing. There are actually Europe-LHR O/Q class tickets available for €40 this weekend, but nothing outside Y/J outbound.

      What hasn’t come out in the press release (for obvious reasons) is that BA accidentally breached the HAL cap last weekend because of other (external) issues… this move is to prevent the same happening this week.

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