News: BA comes into line with low-cost airlines
The best deals, the latest hot spots and what's new in travel
Saturday 26 November 2005
Quietly and without any public statement, British Airways has been abandoning one of its long-standing practices designed to restrict the availability of low fares. BA is now selling its very cheapest seats as one-way flights.
A decade ago, every airline could limit access to cheap European fares by making budget travellers jump through two hoops: insisting on a return trip, and stipulating a minimum stay of one Saturday night. By these means, business travellers were obliged to pay the highest fares.
Inconveniently for the airlines, a decade ago easyJet declared itself indifferent to how long its customers chose to stay away; they could return the same day, or from a different airport, or not at all, because the airline has only ever sold one-way flights.
Four years ago, the rise of no-frills flying undermined BA's "Saturday-night minimum" rule, which was ditched for most European flights. Now, the arcane fare structure whereby a one-way flight could cost much more than a return is coming to an end, too.
"Return trips are still the most popular option," says a spokeswoman for BA, "but we recognise the need of some short-haul passengers to have the flexibility of one-way fares."
That flexibility does not yet extend right across the European network; for a New Year trip to Moscow, the lowest return fare is £208, but a one-way flight is £200 more.
On most routes, though, BA has come into line with the low-cost airlines. As a result, Europe has opened up for people who prefer BA's service and route network.
For example, an itinerary for next week including a one-way from Heathrow to Prague, and a return from Berlin, comes in at a reasonable £140 - previously, the price of two one-way fares would have topped £500.
Until next Tuesday, 29 November, BA has a seat sale to Spain and Portugal with one-way fares designed to compete directly with those of easyJet, Monarch and Thomsonfly on key routes; in January, you can fly to Malaga from Gatwick for £34 or from Heathrow for £47.
Most other airlines are expected to fall into line with British Airways on routes to and from the UK.
BMI - British Airways' main European competitor - adopted the policy on many of its routes last year. On some "code-share" flights, however, outlandish prices still prevail. In response to a test booking made four weeks ahead for an economy seat on an off-peak departure from Heathrow to Munich (operated by Lufthansa), the airline's reservation system reported that "the class selected is no longer available" and demanded £409 for a one-way trip in business class.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 The most powerful passports in the world
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...
£20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...
£17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...