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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