British Airways is introducing changes to its baggage policies in an aim to make them easier for air travellers, reduce queues at airports and bring them in line with Department for Transport recommendations and requirements of the UK’s main airport operator, BAA.The new guidelines will mean changes to hand, checked and excess baggage allowances and will be phased in from early July across the airline’s global network.
Martin George, commercial director, said, “Making the airport experience simpler and speedier for our customers is one of our key objectives as we move towards the opening of Heathrow airport’s Terminal 5 in March 2008.
“We have created new policies which are easier to understand and will reduce queuing time at airports.
“As a package, our new baggage allowances remain comparable to or more generous than our current policies and our main competitors.”
Changes to the amount of hand baggage air travellers can carry on board British Airways’ aircraft will be introduced from July 5, 2006. All passengers will be able to carry one standard-sized bag and one briefcase, laptop computer bag or equivalent on all flights.
The maximum size of the bag must comply with Department for Transport, BAA and International Air Transport Association requirements (56cm x 45cm x 25cm). Weight restrictions will be removed but flyers must be able to lift their bag unaided into the overhead lockers of the aircraft. The briefcase, laptop computer bag or equivalent must fit under the seat in front of the passenger.
Changes to the airline’s free checked-in baggage allowances will consolidate two existing policies, which are based on the number of bags or total weight and depend upon route and class of travel.
A single allowance system for checked-in baggage will be introduced from October 11, based upon a set number of bags. The number of bags that can be checked-in will vary according to the class of travel and route. The maximum weight for any checked bag will be reduced to 23kg to comply with health and safety recommendations.
British Airways customers will be able to carry one piece of sporting equipment, such as golf clubs and skis, free of charge in addition to their checked-in baggage allowance.
Customers travelling with infants will benefit from a substantial increase in their checked-in baggage allowance from October 11. The free entitlement for infants will be one bag weighing up to 23kg plus a collapsible pushchair or buggy. In addition a parent will be allowed to carry a standard-sized bag onto the aircraft for their infant when flying as well as their own allowance.
The airline is also standardising its excess baggage charges from October 11. Bags that exceed a customer’s free checked-in baggage allowance will be charged at a fixed fee. The charges will apply to all customers and are dependent on journey length. In the majority of cases the new charges will be less than those currently levied by the airline.
In an innovative move, the airline is offering its customers the opportunity to pre-pay for their excess baggage on-line before arriving at the departure airport. Those taking advantage of the new scheme will benefit from a 20% discount.
Changes to the carriage of some sporting goods and pets will also be introduced from October 11.