British Airways suspends ticket sales for short-haul flights from Heathrow

British Airways plane (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

British Airways plane (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

British Airways has suspended the sale of short-haul flights from Heathrow Airport for several days.

Customers will not be able to book on domestic or European services flying from the west London airport until Monday 8 August.

The airline said the suspension will also affect some long-haul flights depending on the date and route.

It is still possible to book fares on BA flights arriving at Heathrow.

The airline said the move came in response to Heathrow’s request to limit new bookings after last month introducing a passenger limit of 100,000 people on departures until September 11.

To meet the limit, BA announced it would cancel 10,300 flights until October, with one million passengers affected.

The airline now limits the number of seats it sells on each flight to ensure it stays under the limit.

BA said the move would protect existing bookings because there would be more seats available for customers who miss connecting flights due to disruptions such as air traffic control restrictions or weather problems.

In a statement, the airline said: “We took precautionary measures to reduce our schedule this summer to give customers certainty about their travel plans and to build more resilience into our operation given the ongoing challenges facing the entire aviation industry.

“When Heathrow introduced its passenger cap, we took a small number of extra flights from our schedule and to continue to meet the tariff, we have taken responsible action by limiting the sale or all fares available on some of our Heathrow services to ensure that more seats are available for rebooking by customers.

While this move by BA will give it more flexibility to rebook passengers in the event of further cancellations or disruptions, it reduces consumer choice and will lead to significant fare increases

Guy Hobbs, which one? Travel

“We will continue to manage bookings to stay within Heathrow’s imposed limit so we can get our customers off as planned this summer.”

However, the airline has been criticized over the decision due to concerns that it could push up prices for flights with other airlines.

In recent months, many passengers flying to and from Britain’s busiest airport have experienced severe disruption, with long security queues and breakdowns in the baggage system.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of flights have been canceled to meet the demand for flights due to lack of staffing.

Guy Hobbs, editor of Which? Travel, said: “After months of last-minute flight delays and cancellations causing misery for thousands of travellers, passengers are now faced with this drastic decision by British Airways to halt flight sales.

“While this move by BA will give it more flexibility to rebook passengers in the event of further cancellations or disruption, it reduces consumer choice and will lead to significant fare increases.

(Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

(Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

“With further suspension of ticket sales possible, people should consider booking as early as possible to avoid last minute disappointment and high prices. They should also consider alternative airports and airlines where possible.

“Airports and airlines must be held accountable for the unacceptable disruption travelers are currently experiencing, and the government must act to ensure that the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority has the power to hit operators with significant fines in cases where they break the rules.”

Last month, Emirates rejected Heathrow’s order to cancel flights to comply with the limit.

The airline accused the airport of showing “blatant disregard for consumers” by trying to force it to “deny seats to tens of thousands of travellers” through the roof.

A spokeswoman for Heathrow said at the time that it would be “disappointing” if “any airline wants to put profit before a safe and reliable passenger journey”.

Virgin Atlantic also criticized the airport’s actions, claiming it was responsible for errors contributing to the chaos.

Airlines were accused on July 21 of “harmful practices” in the treatment of passengers affected by disruptions.

The Norwegian Competition and Markets Authority and the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority sent a joint letter to the airlines, in which they expressed concern that “consumers may experience significant damage unless the airlines fulfill their obligations”.

The letter said: “We are concerned that some airlines may not be doing everything they could to avoid engaging in one or more harmful practices.”

These included selling more tickets for flights “than they can reasonably expect to deliver”, not always “fully satisfying obligations” to offer flights on alternative airlines to passengers affected by cancellations, and failing to give consumers “adequately clear and advance information about their rights” “.

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