BA to offer hand luggage discount

Travel with just hand luggage and BA will charge you less. BA's decision means the UK's national carrier is increasingly following the easyJet/Ryanair pricing model.

The discount - worth up to £15 - only applies to short-haul flights from Gatwick for the moment. But does this mean easyJet and Ryanair have the better business model?


Catch-up

In terms of no-frills basic costs, yes. The move looks overdue. EasyJet and Ryanair have a clear commercial advantage when quoting fares, even if their fares aren't necessarily always cheaper than the competition (and they are not). BA rival KLM will shortly also charge for checked-in luggage.

The move should make BA more competitive in the business market. Short haul corporate travel isn't what it used to be and many companies expect employees to travel cattle class, especially for short trips when only a computer and a change of clothes are often carried. Continental one-way commuters also often travel light.

Regular BA customers who travel with hold luggage may wonder if the move could mean price hikes, though director of Gatwick for British Airways, Peter Simpson, told the Telegraph that won't be the case.

Prices held

"It is all about giving our customers more freedom to choose the kind of flying they want. Many British Airways customers at Gatwick choose not to check in a bag as they're already taking advantage of our generous two-bag hand luggage policy. Those who still want to check in a bag will simply pay the same price they do now."

BA says the new type of fare will be available from Gatwick to Amsterdam, Dubrovnik, Jersey, Tunis and Turin for travel from the end of this month. The move slashes the cost of flights to £49 for Dubrovnik, for example, and £69 to Tunis.

Meanwhile IAG, owner of BA and Iberia, has recently been boosted as American Airlines and US Airways merge, meaning IAG could see its routes widen thanks to American's existing IAG relationship. Back in Europe, BA has been hit by Iberia cancellations following industrial action over job cuts.

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BA to offer hand luggage discount

If you are a victim of a strike, or any other event beyond the airline's control (including ash clouds!), they must offer you a refund (in which case it's up to you to find a way home) or an alternative flight. While you are waiting for the flight you have the right to food and refreshment and accommodation.

If you are on a package holiday, your tour operator is entirely responsible for looking after you until you get back to the UK.

This is more likely to happen due to the financial crisis, but in some situations you are covered. 

If you pay by credit card and it's over £100, you'll get a refund from the card company. 

Your travel insurance may well cover you too, but check before you go.  

Talk to the airline, and if it is temporarily misplaced they should arrange for it to be sent to your accommodation, and you should be either given cash to cover the essentials in the interim.

If it's completely lost you must wait 21 days and then make a claim for compensation. If you are travelling as part of a package you can claim costs from your operator.

If you are travelling within the EU you need an EHIC card, which gives you access to public healthcare. However, this won't necessarily be free, and if you need extra services such as accommodation for a carer, a helicopter home or a delayed flight, you could end up seriously out of pocket.

The only protection that will guarantee you will be looked after without running up a horrendous debt is by having travel insurance - which often covers up to £10 million of costs.

The most common form of theft is pick-pocketing, followed by theft from a car and bag snatching. Meanwhile, 752,000 of those surveyed had items stolen from their hotel room or villa.

If you have anything stolen, your only protection is insurance. You need to tell the local police immediately and get a crime reference for your travel insurer.

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