British Airways Is Changing The Way It Files Short-Haul Fares From 4 April – Could This Be Good News?

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British Airways has sent a note out to travel industry professionals reminding them that the way the airline presents and files its short-haul fares will be changing from 4 April 2018. Normally how an airline presents its fares to the travel industry isn’t really of importance or interest to regular travelers but, in this instance, there may be more to this than just a few name and presentation changes.

In the information sent to the travel industry there was a lot of detail that has little bearing on you or I but there was one very interesting line in the FAQ section:

a white background with black text

British Airways Basic Fares are very similar to the Basic fares we see in the US (except perhaps not quite so draconian) and, as things stand now, they have one very annoying aspect to them – you cannot book a roundtrip fare where you combine both basic and regular fares into one trip.

If you head over to and selected a Basic fare for your outbound flight you’ll see that you’re prevented from booking anything but a Basic fare for the return leg of your journey…like on this return flight from Milan for example:

a screenshot of a flight schedule

If you want to get around this you have to book the flights as two one-way fares and that can work out to be significantly more expensive.

So, why would you want to book a Basic fare in one direction and a non-Basic fare (a Plus fare) in the other?

a screenshot of a web page

The main bonuses to booking a plus fare are:

  • A free checked bag
  • Free flight changes on the day of travel

And I can think of two good examples where mixing Basic and Plus fares in one roundtrip would be helpful.

  1. If you only need to have a luggage allowance on one part of your trip (bringing shopping back from somewhere where it’s cheaper than home?) it would be nice not to have to pay for a checked bag on the sector where it’s not needed.
  2. If you’re visiting somewhere on Business and you’re not sure what time you’ll be able to return home at the end of the week, having some extra flexibility would probably be nice – it would be nice to save some cash on the outward flight (by booking a Basic fare) and then have a Plus fare on the way back which would give you the option to switch your flight on the day of departure if you finish earlier or later than expected.

Taking the example of the fare I used earlier, the passengers only has the option of Basic fares on the return from Milan (because he/she) chose a Basic fare or the outbound flight. But, if BA was to allow passengers to combine Basic and Plus fares in one roundtrip booking, the same passenger could pay just a little bit more and book a Plus fare to gain a bit of flexibility:

a screenshot of a flight schedule

The Basic fare that was quoted for the return (see the screenshot posted earlier) costs £42 while the Plus fare costs just £14 more and I’m sure there are a good number of people who would pay £14 to have the option of changing flights on the day of departure.

So will this be something that BA allows?

I don’t actually know but, the fact that BA says that “Basic fares will be combinable with other fare types and will be available as half or full round trips” gives me hope that this is what BA is going to do.

What is a Basic fare “as half a round trip” if it isn’t a Basic fare that has been combined with another fare type to create a full roundtrip?

Back in December the airline also mentioned that it will….

[E]nhance its competitive position in the European short-haul market by introducing more price points on British Airways operated short-haul and UK domestic journeys (Basic and Plus fares only)

To me that sounds like the airline is adding more fare codes within each fare type.

British Airways Airbus A319

This could potentially mean that we’ll see a few cheaper fares appearing (in the bottom fare code) and it could mean that there won’t be big jumps in price as one fare class sells out and the airline begins to offer the next one up.

Bottom Line

If I’m reading this correctly, as of 4 April 2018 British Airways will allow customers to book Basic Economy fares as part of a mixed fare itinerary rather than forcing them to choose between two one way fares or a “Basic Economy only” booking.

When I discussed this possibility back in December I ended the post with the suggestion that “we may also be closer to seeing British Airways offer Basic Economy on one or more long-haul routes”. That’s something that I somehow got right so maybe I’m right about this too 🙂