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British Airways has suspended short-haul flight sales – here’s everything you need to know

The airline has capped short-haul flights from London Heathrow until August 15. So how could it affect your holiday?

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham

Across pretty much all of Europe, it’s been a chaotic summer for airports and airlines. Facing severe staff shortages, the aviation industry has been blighted by mile-long queues, huge piles of lost luggage and loads of cancelled and delayed flights.

And over the past few days, things have gotten even more confusing. British Airways has announced that it has suspended sales of all short-haul flights from its base at London Heathrow until August 15, making it much more difficult for lots of travellers to book last-minute summer getaways. 

No doubt you’ll have quite a few questions about BA’s ban on short-haul sales. So why is there a cap? Who will it affect? And could other airlines take similar measures? Below we’ll answer a few queries about the cap and how it might impact your holiday. 

Why is there a cap on flights at Heathrow airport?

The cap is being enforced by Heathrow in an attempt to limit passenger numbers. The airport has struggled due to lack of staff in recent months, leading to enormous queues at check-in and slow processing at baggage reclaim.

The airport is now limiting passenger numbers to 100,000 per day. With fewer passengers, it’s hoped that there will be fewer delays and lost bags.

British Airways has limited new bookings in response to the cap by Heathrow. It also says that this will help existing customers be more easily rebooked onto new flights should they face any cancellations. 

How long will the cap last?

Heathrow’s cap will last until at least October 29, though the airport has warned it may be extended until both the airport and airlines can hire more staff.

British Airways originally suspended ticket sales on short-haul flights until next Monday, August 8. However, this has now been extended for another week until August 15. 

Which destinations will the British Airways flight cap affect?

BA’s cap only impacts the airline’s own short-haul routes from Heathrow, meaning it’ll likely affect flights of less than three hours in length. In practical terms, this covers much of the airline’s domestic routes within the UK and a lot of destinations across Europe.

From London Heathrow, a three-hour flight can roughly take you as far north as Reykjavik, as far south as the Spain’s Costa del Sol or as far east as Helsinki and Corfu

Does the cap impact existing bookings?

The cap won’t impact existing bookings. In fact, it’s designed to make sure existing customers’ journeys proceed a bit more smoothly, with fewer queues and delays. 

The cap will impact anyone who plans on going away this summer (or, to be exact, this week) but hasn’t already booked their flights. And even if you didn’t plan on flying with BA, it’s likely that the ticket sale cap will lead to increased prices elsewhere. 

Could other airlines also impose a cap?

Since Heathrow imposed its limit on daily passenger numbers, several airlines have had to cancel flights and move customers onto other flights. No other airline has suspended all short-haul sales quite like British Airways has, but we wouldn’t rule it out.

ICYMI: how to track down lost baggage and get compensation.

Plus: 10 ways to make sure you avoid holiday hell this summer.

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