what you need to know

what you need to know

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British Airways has suspended ticket sales for short-haul flights from Heathrow. How will this affect travelers and why did they do it?

Have more British Airways flights been cancelled?

No further flights were canceled due to the suspension of short-haul ticket sales.

Are passengers hit? What if you have a ticket?

no Passengers with existing bookings can continue to travel and inbound flights will not be affected. Long distance tickets are still on sale.

So what did BA do?

It has halted last-minute ticket sales on its short-haul flights from Heathrow to comply with the passenger cap announced by London Airport three weeks ago. BA suspended the sale last weekend and has now extended it until August 15th.

BA operates far more services from Heathrow than any other airline with its own dedicated terminal and immediately agreed to the cap, which caps airport-wide passenger numbers at 100,000 per day.

What was the cap for?

The cap should help scheduled services operate without delay in the event of last-minute cancellations as the airline industry continues to struggle to hire and retain enough staff to meet demand for flights once Covid travel restrictions are lifted.

Heathrow says there is a shortage of ground staff employed or contracted by airlines. This has contributed to large check-in lines and problems at baggage claim, with the possibility of delays or hiccups escalating into greater chaos.

So BA’s suspension of short-haul sales was simply part of that deal?

Yes. The airline says the decision will also “maximize rebooking options” for passengers bumped off flights it actually canceled four weeks ago.

Will it continue?

The cap is valid until September 11th. BA has now suspended short-haul ticket sales for a further week until August 15 and will review the decision. It also plans to cap sales ‘dynamically’ throughout the summer without a blanket ban on restricting seating on certain flights at peak times, although most outbound flights take place in the first few weeks of the school holidays.

Will it stop people from traveling?

Few people will be directly affected. The vast majority of summer passengers are leisure travelers and book well in advance. In a normal year, many services are fully booked in the high season. Anyone who wants to travel on a BA flight at short notice – for example business travelers and frequent flyers with points – could be disappointed. But BA Heathrow’s summer fares were already prohibitive for most people – even those with enough disposable income for a summer holiday.

The capacity limitation could increase airfares in general for people who stopped booking very late. Most short-haul destinations can be reached using alternative airlines from other London airports, or by less polluting methods such as train, boat or car. BA’s profits are only slightly affected by the loss of revenue from last-minute bookings.

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