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EXTENDED: BA stops selling tickets for ALL Heathrow short-haul flights until 15th August

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British Airways has just circulated a note to the travel trade to state that the ban on OUTBOUND short haul ticket sales from London Heathrow has been extended.

There are now no tickets available for travel up to 15th August.

As we wrote in our article yesterday, 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

To clarify what this means:

  • you cannot buy any short haul flight, to any destination, on British Airways from London Heathrow for travel up to 15th August
  • you CAN buy inbound flights, if you choose to travel out on another airline
  • existing ticketed flights are not impacted

For a route such as Oslo that is only served by British Airways from Heathrow, here is what you see for 12th August:

If you thinking of booking a British Airways flight for travel from 15th August, you may want to lock it in now. If you don’t, you may find that you can’t book at all …..

(If you didn’t take my advice to do this when I wrote it in the article yesterday, you would have lost out if you needed to travel between the 9th and 15th.)

Here is the note sent to travel agents today:

Last week we wrote to you advising of actions we were taking in response to capacity capping at Heathrow Airport.

We communicated that we would review our actions this week and would like to provide you with an update.

To help maximise rebooking options for existing customers, we’ve decided to take further responsible action and limit the available fares on some Heathrow services.

Short-haul flights departing from Heathrow will now be closed for sale until 15 August 2022 in all channels. These flights will not be available to book via ba.com or via our partners.

We apologise for the inconvenience this will cause and would like to thank you for your continued patience and understanding.”

British Airways issued a statement yesterday to say:

“As a result of Heathrow’s request to limit new bookings, we’ve decided to take responsible action and limit the available fares on some Heathrow services to help maximise rebooking options for existing customers, given the restrictions imposed on us and the ongoing challenges facing the entire aviation industry.”


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Comments (72)

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

  • Jeff says:

    It’s a shame that they don’t incentivise leisure travellers in August to delay their leisure travel by offering to extend short expiry Amex 241 vouchers. I’d “help out” by delaying and would be happy to give up 2 seats up front to a more worthy traveller. 🙂

    • Niall says:

      I agree. A shame they haven’t done anything at all to incentivise moving flights. I have / had multiple, including one which was booked from LCY and rearranged recently to LHR! Really any incentive at all and I would have moved.

      • Jeff says:

        Indeed. I have two seats booked on a VIE flight for the 29th August returning a few days later. If I cancel I’ll get no cash back but my miles and a 241 that expires within a couple of days that is worthless. So instead of cancelling now I’ll wait until the day before in the hope that THEY cancel with some sort of voucher. If not – hey ho..

  • Petr says:

    Travelled from T5 yesterday afternoon. Very quick to get through security (less than 5 min). A lot of staff at check-in counters and very light occupancy in the terminal. It appeared a number of people arrived more than 3 hours before check-in and were asked to wait in the public area before being allowed to check-in and move inside the terminal (so avoid coming too early).

  • TM says:

    Nice to see you quoted in the FT Rob!

    • Rob says:

      Full house today – The Times (front page of print), The Telegraph (page 2 of print), Indy, i, FT. Only The Guardian and BBC News let the side down by not speaking to me 🙂

  • Nick says:

    I’d be very surprised if this didn’t extend to (some) longhaul soon as well.

  • Ian M says:

    What an absolute shambles. Why are Heathrow and BA so hopelessly woeful at operating?

    • Will says:

      Mainly because they were forced to shut during a pandemic, took on loads of debt to survive and the government support of employees was not only costly to the airline/airport (they had to pay a significant contribution to furlough at the end) but also ended way before passenger traffic returned to airports due to testing requirements.

      Add to that a labour market squeeze and the fact that it takes a long time to train/security clear airport workers and you have the answer.

      • BuildBackBetter says:

        All those are just silly excuses.
        Airlines and airport not hiring enough – cause they don’t want to commit higher wages in case travel demand goes down again.

        • JDB says:

          It really isn’t “silly excuses”. If you talk to business owners and managers across sectors, it isn’t a question of paying up, there just aren’t the people at the moment. It will change as the economic environment worsens but today, right across the UK and equally across Europe, recruitment at low to mid/upper level is desperately difficult. Hospitality is particularly difficult from maids/waiters to revenue or f&b managers, but also in food processing, distribution, financial services, retail, construction, tech etc.

          • ChrisBCN says:

            NOT equally across Europe

          • Paul says:

            For the most part correct but this is not “equally across Europe” Brexit, the word that cannot speak its name! and the particular form of Brexit chosen by the government, makes the situation in the U.K. more difficult
            Recruitment in public sector is also desperately difficult with poverty pay levels and a workforce targeted by politicians for being sick, lame of lazy (they are not)
            The airports have paid billions in dividends , awarded senior staff obscene pay awards and complained constantly that they were ready and government was holding the back. It was not true.
            So between incompetent government and incompetent management you have the perfect storm with passengers caught in the middle

          • Brian78 says:

            So if airport staff were offered eg £80k a year (silly/extreme example I know) there wouldn’t be a big increase in people applying for those jobs?

          • HBommie says:

            If you think Europe and the rest of the world are ticking along nicely https://www.wsj.com/story/the-10-worst-busy-airports-for-flight-delays-89999df6

          • Charles Martel says:

            European countries with embarrassingly high levels of youth unemployment seem to be doing well in aviation recruitment. If only our economy were a basket case too, we could get through the airport a little quicker!

    • Alan says:

      Nail it @Paul. I find it amazing people continue to defend Brexit when there’s yet to be any discernable benefit – where’s all that spare cash that was written on the side of the bus we were promised?

      • JDB says:

        @Alan neither my comment, nor I believe the others, have anything to do with Brexit. That’s a sterile discussion. Rather, through my direct and indirect experience working with companies in the UK and Europe and reading company result statements, recruitment is a massive issue across Europe despite high unemployment levels in some countries. Recruitment is also a growing problem in the US. The nature of the employment market has changed markedly since covid for a multiplicity of reasons as many have left the workforce or retrained and and/or are now self employed, some won’t move in their own countries , even for much higher pay either for job security reasons or Covid making them want to stay nearer family support. Others have left towns to do simpler jobs in more rural areas as a lifestyle choice. It’s complicated and has caught employers by surprise.

      • 2ilent8cho says:

        The benefit is Sovereignty that is the purpose, not some slogan down a bus. The rules you want from now on should be made by governments we elect, not unelected people controlling us. Don’t like them, elect a different government.

        If you cannot grasp that there is not much we can do for you.

        • Rob says:

          Ah yes, that unelected European parliament 🙂

        • Jek says:

          The government we elect? Repeating this lie does not make it valid. Not only do we have the unelected House of Lords, but soon we will have an unelected PM.

  • pigeon says:

    How much of this is a Heathrow powerplay to increase landing fees?

    The government should draw a line under it, send in contractors/the army/whatever to man security and baggage, and send Heathrow an enormous bill.

    • Will says:

      It’s affecting other airports in the U.K., and across the wider world too.

    • Nick says:

      Because the army are trained in airport baggage screening? They’d need the same course as everyone else.

      Send in contractors? Are there companies that have people with DFT-standard baggage screening qualifications waiting on standby?

      • Brian78 says:

        “ Because the army are trained in airport baggage screening? ”

        How long does the training take?

        • JDB says:

          About five weeks and many – 30% + fail the tests so need extra training before retaking it. The security checks for a pass take longer and even army personnel need them.

          • Brian78 says:

            So get the security clearance for the army people initiated now as there aren’t suddenly going to be an influx of workers at any point in the next few months unless wages are increased to match what workers can get elsewhere

          • Rob says:

            The Army people will probably fail too. The requirements are massively strict – my understandig is that you need to account for literally every day of employment in the past 3 (I think) years and every job must be verified. If you worked in a pub for 2 weeks, the pub must verify that. If the pub has gone bust or has better things to do than complete paperwork for someone who was there for 2 weeks, you’re not getting the job. Fundamentally you need to show what you were doing every single day over that period, just in case you’d nipped off to Afghanistan for a few weeks of terrorist training.

            The accreditation requirements have not caught up with gig economy work or the advent of short term contracts.

          • JDB says:

            @Brian78 there isn’t a shortage of security staff at LHR. The still significant shortages are at BA and the independent handlers; the army can hardly be called in to fill those vacancies.

          • will says:

            And the Army is no longer a huge resource of idle manpower that it possibly once was. They’re now a small, well trained, expensive and largely busy unit of people.

            The cost to temporarily relocate and deploy them to LHR would surely be more than simply training new people, which I think is what airports and airlines are currently doing, albeit with a sensibly eye on a future whereby people might not be flush with money forever and airports could well be over staffed just as quickly as they became under staffed.

            Sometimes, you can’t plan for everything perfectly and solve every problem instantly, perhaps the government handing out cash at any sign of any problem recently has distorted our expectations on this.

          • Nick Burch says:

            It’s not quite that bad Rob. 5 years of references for employment or training, any gaps over 28 days need a “gap reference” where someone confirms you were eg at home unemployed. If the employer has gone bust, HMRC records showing you were employed and paying tax are accepted.

            BA used to have loads of temporary workers at Heathrow, employed via DHL, who did cleaning and catering. All with airside passes, doing variable hours, many of them getting their shifts confirmed via an app gig-economy style. Between the shift of catering to Do&Co and the pandemic downturn, all gone. There’s certainly interest in temporary agency workers back at Heathrow (+ expanding at other airports which kept some), but it’s not quick to setup, and needs sufficient pay + margin which aren’t always offered by the airlines…

          • Rob says:

            Isn’t that worse? The sort of people who do baggage handling are likely to be the sort of people who’ve had lots of short-term gig economy jobs over the last five years, and so will struggle to get a reference from EVERY employer – and it has to be 100% compliance.

        • Rob says:

          10 minutes for the training, 3 months for the security clearance.

    • Londonsteve says:

      Nationalise LHR. Turn off the profit taps to shareholders and greedy management, any residual benefit should flow to the government who is the only entity with the clout and broad shoulders to sort out this mess. As ever, when all else fails, call in the government for a bail-out, emergency legislation or full nationalisation, like the retail banking and rail sector has seen in recent years.

      • will says:

        As someone who is able to see how private ownership of railways and strategic industry (power for example) has not served the country well, I don’t really understand how the government could do a better job of training and clearing airport workers than the airport industry is currently doing.

        What’s the conspiracy theory here? That airports and airlines want fewer customers or that they are simply incompetent.

        Whichever the accusation is, it’s far more widespread than BA and LHR, which means they’re all in on it together.

        • Londonsteve says:

          There is no conspiracy theory or accusation as such, beyond the typically short-termist approach adopted by UK PLC, who, rather than avail themselves of the government’s generous furlough arrangements, decided it was a better option to ditch staff permanently. This was heavily motivated by the desire to ensure that all ‘expensive’ staff on legacy contracts could be got rid of in this golden window of opportunity. I have (limited) sympathy for an aviation industry seeking to legally sack staff whose salaries were unsustainable in an operating environment where an apex ticket to Milan no longer cost £400 in today’s money. No company could afford to pay £80k to some cabin crew members when they’re selling tickets at lead-in fares of £29, while also having to cover Heathrow’s hideous PSCs and handling charges. Alas, the cuts went far further than that, management across the industry assumed (quite wrongly) that they could start recruiting again in the future in an environment where candidates for employment are plentiful, Covid having wrought devastation on national economies and there would be lots of hungry people. This was an error of judgement on a monumental scale and while they couldn’t predict the future, prudent management would not have gambled the company’s basic operational capability and good name on the assumption of a plentiful supply of cheap labour available at short notice, especially not in a post Brexit employment market, and not when the government was willing to shoulder 80% of the wage bill to keep existing staff on the books. The assumption that has proven to be quite wrong, is that ex-staffers could be cast into the long grass, were unlikely to find meaningful employment in the meantime in a shackled and sclerotic economy and would come running back when they were offered their old jobs back.

  • GS says:

    Someone mentioned to me that they have a BA long haul flight with a regional connection from Manchester next week, however the regional connections both ways have been cancelled. They are making their own way to LHR. Is there any way of getting a partial refund from BA easily?

    • Lady London says:

      I”d suggest not asking for any refund whatsoever. 2 main reasons:

      1. fare consruction rules mean the amount extra for a domestic leg on a ticket with more legs esp if longhaul, is negligible. It can be zero, close to zero or even negative (meaning it would reprice higher if starting from the LHR-departing leg). Really don’t bother.

      2. You bought a ticket from a departure point, in this case regional, to a destination. You retain the right for your transportation, however many legs it turns out to now need, to be either provided or paid by the airline from your departure point and to your destination for outward and return.

      So if you are forced to come by train, bus or other means from your ticketed departure point to LHR after an airline cancellation, charge it (after first giving the airline the opporunity to reroute you to cover your a$$ legally).

      So the options you may have overlooked are agreeing with the airline to do the first leg earlier, in which case make sure they know you will be claiming any extra hotel night from them plus reasonable local costs for meals falling within additional travel time.

      If I wasn”t taking the train I would charge thrn 45p per mile being the standard mileage cost recognised by HMRC (unless it’s increased) provided I could produce a fuel receipt on a near day covering a fill for the car likely
      to come close to covering those miles (to prove that there was an out of pocket expense). Your claim is for the journey to LHR at the mileage rate and not for the value of the receipt – make the claim based on mileage and hold the receipt back to produce as evidence if requested, that the expense occurred.

      This is standard practice with HMRC claims on expenses so I think BA would have a hard time resisting it.

    • NorthernLass says:

      It would be a very small refund. They be better claiming rail/taxi transport from BA. They also need to make sure they are still ticketed on the long haul sector. This happened to us a few years ago and BA cancelled the whole outbound journey, not just the MAN-LHR sector. Fortunately this was on the actual day of travel and ground staff realised what had happened and re-ticketed us.

  • Ken McLeod says:

    Flights are still available to book domestically ?

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