Two years ago, British Airways introduced “Hand Baggage Only” fares on its short-haul route network. As their name suggests, passengers purchasing these fares have to pay a separate fee if they wish to check in a bag into the hold of the aircraft.
BA has long claimed that these fares have been a success. They enable the airline to keep headline fares low when competing against low cost carriers (who have the advantage of generating considerable ancillary revenues from pasengers).
In a somewhat surprising move, BA has today announced that Silver and Gold Executive club cardholders will no longer be able to choose a seat free of charge at the time of booking when booking a hand baggage only fare from Thursday 26 March 2015.
This applies to all types of hand baggage only fares, including semi-flexible and fully flexible fares.
Silver and Gold Executive Club cardholders have, for nearly ten years, had the privilege of being able to choose a seat at the time of booking. Those who do not hold a Silver or Gold Executive Club card have to wait until check-in opens (or 7 days before flying for Bronze cardholders) or pay an advance fee for seat selection.
Ostensibly, this move seems aimed at encouraging frequent flyers not to use hand baggage only fares, which seem aimed at discretionary price-sensitive leisure flyers.
However, it is understandable that many cardholders will be aggrieved at the removal of one the benefits of Silver/Gold Executive Club membership. Not least when it follows wide-ranging changes to the Executive Club announced in January.