what you need to know

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British Airways has suspended ticket sales on short-haul flights from Heathrow. How will this affect travelers and why have they done it?

Have any more British Airways flights been cancelled?

No additional flights have been canceled as a result of the suspension of short-haul ticket sales.

Are any passengers affected? What if you have a ticket?

No. Passengers with existing bookings will still be able to travel and entry will not be affected. Long-distance tickets are still on sale.

So what has BA done?

It has stopped selling more last-minute tickets on its short-haul flights from Heathrow to comply with the passenger cap announced by the London airport three weeks ago. BA stopped the sale last weekend and has now extended it until 15 August.

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

What was the cap for?

The restriction was to help ensure scheduled services could operate without delay amid last-minute cancellations, as the aviation industry continues to struggle to recruit and retain enough staff to meet demand for flights after Covid travel restrictions were lifted.

Heathrow says there is a shortage of ground staff, who are employed or hired by airlines. It has contributed to long queues at check-ins and problems at baggage claim, with the potential for any delays or hiccups to escalate into wider chaos.

So BA suspending short haul sales was simply part of that deal?

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

Will it continue?

The cap is in place until 11 September. BA has now put short-distance ticket sales on hold for another week, until 15 August, and will keep the decision under consideration. It also plans to limit sales “dynamically” throughout the summer, without a blanket ban, and limit seats on certain flights during busy periods, although most outbound travel takes 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 high season services are fully booked. Those who wanted to travel specifically on a BA flight at the last minute – such as business travelers and frequent flyers with points – may be disappointed. But summer fares at BA Heathrow were already unaffordable for most people – even those with enough disposable income for a summer holiday.

The capacity limit can increase airfares in general for people who have left it very late to book. Most short-haul destinations can be reached by alternative airlines from other London airports, or by less environmentally damaging methods, such as train, boat or car. BA’s profit will only be affected to a small extent by the loss of income from last-minute bookings.

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