British Airways to offer new basic fare on some long-haul routes

British Airways passengers will now have to pay to check luggage on some long-haul routes. A new “basic” fare has been introduced for passengers who have only hand baggage, with tickets costing up to £60 less than the standard return fare, the airline said.

Basic fare tickets went on sale on Wednesday for flights from London to Austin, Boston, Delhi, Denver, Dubai, Hong Kong, Oakland, Philadelphia, Punta Cana and Singapore. The cheapest fare – to Dubai – will cost £143 each way.

Passengers will still be served complimentary food and drink and be able to take two items of hand luggage on board. But checking a bag for people flying on basic fare tickets will cost from £80 return, with seat selection starting at £20 each way. BA already offers this type of basic fare on its short-haul flights.

The airline said the move to offer a basic fare on long-haul routes was about being competitive with operators offering cheaper flights and was not about increasing the cost of a standard fare.

“We know that when our customers travel with us, their needs vary from trip to trip. Some will be flying on business, some for leisure, some will be on short hops, others will be longer stays,” said BA’s chief commercial officer, Adam Daniel. “We need to ensure that the fares we provide reflect those differing needs so customers can select the best option for them on that occasion.

“Someone travelling for a short meeting or leisure break, who isn’t planning to check in a bag and is happy for us to allocate them a seat, will appreciate the option to secure a lower fare. They’ll still receive our generous hand baggage allowance, a seat allocated to them in advance, complimentary food and drink, in-flight entertainment, blankets and headphones, all at no extra cost.”

The changes are part of a larger rollout by BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), which will see American Airlines, Iberia and Finnair also introduce the basic fare.

Last month Virgin Atlantic launched its first hand-baggage-only ticket in a major revamp of its economy service. It is offering cheaper fares on its routes that are similar to low-cost competitors, where passengers can take only cabin luggage and are not able to choose their seat in advance.

In January the budget airline Ryanair changed its rules to restrict passengers to take only one small piece of hand luggage into the cabin – rather than the two items previously allowed – unless they paid for priority boarding – £5 when first booked or £6 later.