by Gavin Haines, The Daily Telegraph, April 22, 2016
British Airways has launched new fares in a bid to simplify short-haul travel and compete with its low-cost rivals.
Three new fare types – Basic, Plus and Plus Flex – went on sale this morning, replacing the airline’s six existing options.
“Our customers were telling us they wanted a simpler fare structure for economy short-haul flights, rather than six possible combinations,” said Robin Glover-Faure, head of short-haul at British Airways. “This new approach is much easier to understand and will make booking quicker and simpler.”
Basic is the cheapest of the new fares and doesn’t include checked luggage. Passengers will be allocated seating at check-in, though they can pay to choose where they sit, while flight changes will incur a £60 charge, plus any difference in fare.
The new Plus fare includes a 23kg checked baggage allowance and allows free flight changes until the day of departure, up to one hour before the scheduled take off, though fare differences may apply. Seat selection is free within 48 hours of departure.
The Plus Flex fare, meanwhile, is fully refundable and includes a 23kg checked baggage allowance, free flight changes on the day, free seat selection at booking and free advance changes subject to fare difference. On domestic flights, Plus Flex will be known as Business UK and will include priority boarding and lounge access.
British Airways passengers will be able to make changes to their bookings, subject to availability, via the airline’s app.
“Most passengers will probably welcome simpler fares, and more flexibility,” said Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s Consumer Editor. “But the real test will be the cost. In short-haul routes price is critical and BA needs to keep fares low if it is going to stay competitive with easyJet and Ryanair."
Conducting a price comparison online, Telegraph Travel pitched British Airways against low-cost carriers easyJet and Ryanair, which offer similarly flexible fares. We looked at return flights to Barcelona next weekend, flying out Friday and coming back on Sunday.
Departing from Luton, Ryanair’s Business Plus fare was cheapest at £274. British Airways’ Plus fare, from Gatwick, was second cheapest at £381 and easyJet’s FLEXI fare, also from Gatwick, was most expensive at £449. However, unlike its rivals, easyJet offered free route changes as part of the fare.
“Now a greater number of customers can quickly change their travel plans for free,” said Glover-Faure. “If a meeting ends early, they can be home earlier. If they want to stay on holiday a few hours longer and catch a later flight, they can.”
This article was written by Gavin Haines from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.