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BA to charge £240 for extra bag

London, Feb. 8 (Reuters): British Airways (BA) introduces new baggage charges next week which have been criticised by Help the Aged charity which says they will hit older customers.

From Tuesday, passengers face the prospect of paying up to £240 if they want to check in more than one bag on a long haul return flight.

BA said the new baggage policy, announced last June, would be simpler and only affect 2 per cent of its customers. “We are changing some of our excess baggage policies from next week,” a BA spokesman said.

Under the new rules, passengers in economy class will be able to check-in one bag weighing 23 kg.

Travellers on long haul flights will have to pay £120 for every extra bag, except for those travelling from the US, Canada, Caribbean, Nigeria, Brazil and Mexico who will still be allowed two checked bags in line with local rules.

Short haul passengers will be charged £60 per extra bag and domestic travellers £30. However, passengers will be able to carry one piece of sporting equipment free of charge.

Up to September 30 this year, customers can get discounts if they pay for any extra bag online, making the cost £84 for long haul, £42 for short haul and £21 for domestic flights.

“This raises serious issues for older travellers,” a spokesman for Help the Aged said. “For many older people it is important that they can travel independently. But many will not be able to manage one bag.”

BA said passengers who had difficulty carrying a single bag would be allowed to check-in more than one case providing the overall weight was under 23 kg.

BA’s changes follow similar steps taken by budget airlines. Last year, Ryanair introduced charges for check-in luggage to cut costs and speed up the check-in process.

“In some ways they are taking a leaf out of a low-cost airline’s book by charging,” independent air transport consultant John Strickland told the BBC. “They are seen as a full service airline and certainly not as a low cost carrier.”

The carrier said its “overall baggage allowances remain highly competitive when compared with other airlines”. “For more than 98 per cent of customers, there is no real change as most people already travel within their free hold and cabin luggage allowances,” it added.

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