British Airways Will Add £8 Fee to Tickets Booked Through ‘Outside’ Systems Starting November 1

The ongoing saga of airlines not wanting to pay current fees to sell their tickets through third parties, and not happy with how third parties market upsell options to consumers, went to the next level today.

Two years ago Lufthansa announced a 16 euro fee for bookings made outside of Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Swiss International Airlines channels such as computer reservation systems Sabre, Amadeus, and Travelport.

Now a second airline has taken this step. British Airways will “levy a £8 fee” on every ticket booked outside a New Distribution Capacity system. The fee will go into effect November 1.

Other channels that are exempt include its own website, airline sales offices and call centres, as well as the following channels:

  • NDC direct connection
  • NDC via an IT service provider/aggregator
  • Self-booking tools connected to BA or IB via NDC
  • IAG Booking Portal (to be available shortly)
  • Other travel intermediaries, including GDS, that adopt NDC based connections in the future

The fee applies to British Airways and Iberia. It does not apply to Aer Lingus and Vueling.

This makes British Airways tickets more expensive (and often more expensive than competitors) when shopping through online travel agencies. At the same time it makes online travel agencies more expensive than buying from British Airways directly. It’s a gamble that may cost BA some business, save some costs, and attempts to force third parties to adopt less expensive technology that also pushes customers to spend more on the airline.

As Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways parent IAG, presented to investors in the fall:

British Airways already faces significant challenges with Brexit inching forward and increasingly inferior products. They’ve weathered well financially so far. That Lufthansa hasn’t backed off the move no doubt gave British Airways the confidence to pull the trigger themselves.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. BA may have some challenges with Brexit but they should benefit from no longer having to pay out compensation under the EU flight delay rules. Just saying. I think one of the guys on Dots Lines and Destinations may have mentioned this recently which had slipped my mind.

  2. Why anyone uses the big OTAs to book airline tickets in the first place I will never understand.

  3. @DaninMCI that won’t come CLOSE to making up for losses in the financial services industry dragging down premium cabin revenue…

  4. Would/can OTA’s just say BA flights aren’t bookable with us? Basically reducing their traffic bigtime? I’d guess they have contracts in place….but publicly changing them midstream probably limits any liability Orbitz or Expedia etc has from telling BA to suck a giant co$k.

  5. Bob, this month I booked a (non-opaque) ticket on Priceline to fly Alaska Airlines because their pop-up ad told me it was $33 cheaper than via Orbitz or Alaska’s own Website! Also, I got ~70 hours of free cancellation vs. 24 & now I get a $5 rebate from TopCashBack. Finally, I was able to include a WestJet flight to my 2nd destination on the same ticket, which saved me $10 in taxes, but I had to pay a $7 booking fee, leaving me $3 savings.

  6. @Bob

    You can also combine different airlines on the same itinerary sometimes on an OTA in a way you cannot otherwise

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