British Airways

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British Airways was formed in 1974 after a British Airways Board was established by the British government to oversee the 2 nationalized airline corporations, British Overseas Airways Corporation and British European Airways, along with 2 regional airlines, Cambrian Airways, and Northeast Airlines. Since formation, it has become the UK’s largest international carrier in terms of fleet size (273) and second largest after EasyJet in terms of passengers carried. It flies to 183 destinations and is based in Waterside, Harmondsworth.

Contact details

British Airways Plc,
PO Box 365,
Harmondsworth, UB7 0GB

What are my British Airways check-in options?

Mobile boarding passes and priority boarding
Priority boarding
Flying with children
Seating for infants and children
Unaccompanied children
Flying while pregnant
Group bookings
Disabled access and medical equipment
Pets and service animals

Mobile boarding passes and priority boarding

For all British Airways destinations, you can check-in before you arrive at the airport, in every class of travel, through the website homepage by clicking on the “Manage My Booking” tab, or through The British Airways iOS app or the equivalent app for Android. Online check-in opens 24 hours before your flight. Once you’re checked in, print your boarding pass or get a mobile boarding pass sent to your phone. You can choose to receive your boarding pass via SMS or Email. Ensure you check in at least 90 minutes prior to your scheduled departure time.

Priority boarding

British Airways has implemented a zoned boarding concept as of December 2017. At the check-in stage, customers are allocated a group number dependent on their cabin of travel and frequent-flyer status. This number is displayed on the boarding pass. On long-haul flights, the boarding order is as follows:

  • Group 1 — Executive Club Gold, Oneworld Emerald, and first class
  • Group 2 — Executive Club Silver, Oneworld Sapphire, and business
  • Group 3 — Executive Club Bronze, Oneworld Ruby, premium economy
  • Group 4 and 5 — Economy

Flying with children

Children aged 2-11 years have the same carry-on allowance as an adult. If you are traveling with an infant under 2, you’ll be able to bring an extra bag for them, included in your allowance, with the items that they may need during the flight. If you choose to pay for a seat for your infant, they are booked as a ‘child’ and are given the baggage allowance a child would receive, which is the same as an adult. You cannot combine your baggage allowances. If you have a stroller with maximum dimensions of 46 x 15 x 15 inches (117 x 38 x 38 centimeters) when collapsed, you can take it right to the aircraft door and collect at the aircraft door at most airports.

Seating for infants and children

When you travel with an infant under 2 who won’t be traveling in a seat of their own, you can reserve a seat for yourself and everyone in your booking, free of charge, as soon as you’ve made your booking (except for bookings of more than 9 people). Child seats are allowed for infants from birth up to 2 years old can also be brought onto the flight for free. You can reserve a child seat position in advance on long-haul flights only, as short-haul aircraft do not have child seats. When booking online, a request for a bassinet can be made in the “Manage My Booking” section. If you don’t choose a seat in advance, the airline will allocate a suitable seat for you a few days before departure, but this might not be at a child seat position. If you have your own car seat or AmSafe System, you can use this on board in economy seats for infants from 12 months to children of 4 years, but the AmSafe System is not suitable for use in first class, business class or premium economy seats and it cannot be used in the same row as the emergency exit or the row in front or behind the emergency exit in economy.

Unaccompanied children

British Airways does not offer an unaccompanied minors service. If a young person aged between 12 and 15 years is traveling on their own, they will need to be booked to travel as an adult, and therefore go through departure and arrival airports and board their flight(s) without a chaperone. Children under 12 years of age cannot travel alone on British Airways flights. They must be accompanied by a companion aged 16 or over.

Flying while pregnant

British Airways allows women whose pregnancies are:

  • No later than the end of week 36 if pregnant with 1 baby, or
  • No later than the end of week 32 if pregnant with more than 1 child

Medical certificates are required for any pregnancy after the 28th week and require the following details:

  • confirmation of a single or multiple pregnancies
  • state that the expectant mother is in good health and if any complications are expected
  • the estimated date of delivery
  • the date up to which they are expected to be fit to travel

Group bookings

If you’re planning to fly with a group and wish to be seated together, you can arrange bookings for 10 or more people by requesting a quote through or by calling 1-844-209-1281.

Group benefits include:

  • A dedicated team to look after your group.
  • Ability to book flights with a small deposit ($100) for each passenger.
  • Group seating (as much as possible).
  • Group member changes are free of charge when done before tickets are issued.

Disabled access and medical equipment

You’re required to give at least 48 hours notice prior to your flight if you require special assistance on your journey. Wheelchairs are available for use at all airport locations, and airline staff can assist you with transportation from check-in to the boarding gate, making connections (if applicable) and from the aircraft to the arrivals hall at your destination. You’ll need to request this service when making your booking. You can also bring your own wheelchair, and this can be booked through the Manage My Booking section.

Pets and service animals

You can travel with your cat or dog on board Open Skies flights in British Airway’s Premium Plus and Economy cabin if they weigh less than 13.2 pounds (6 kilograms). If they weigh more than this, they’ll need to travel in the cargo hold. The charge is $196 (EUR 125) for each pet traveling in the cabin (PETC). Also note that if your pet carrier exceeds the maximum size of 45 x 30 x 24 centimeters, it will need to go in the aircraft hold.

Guide dogs and service animals may travel free of charge in the aircraft cabin on direct British Airways flights. British Airways requires at least 7 days advance notice if you plan to travel with a guide dog in cabin, and this must be done by calling 1-800-247-9297. If you’re entering the UK, your dog must meet the requirements of DEFRA’s Pet Travel Scheme. If you’re traveling to a different country, please check with the relevant embassy or consulate for any regulations or restrictions.

What are British Airways’ baggage allowance limits and fees?

Carry-on size
Checked luggage size
Extra and overweight baggage charges
Musical and sports equipment

Carry-on baggage allowance

British Airways structures its baggage allowance policy based on the airline operating your flight. The restriction on short-haul flights is 51 pounds (23 kilograms) and up to 16 x 12 x 6 inches (40 x 30 x 15 centimeters).

Checked baggage allowance

Your checked baggage allowance varies depending on the cabin you’re traveling in, your frequent flyer member status and other factors. On British Airways, Open Skies and BA City Flyer flights, a checked bag can be up to 35.5 x 29.5 x 16 inches (90 x 75 x 43 centimeters), including any parts that stick out, like the handle, pockets, and wheels.

Extra and overweight baggage charges

Every person over 2 years old can have up to 10 additional bags as well as their free checked baggage. You can add bags to your flight online after logging into your booking. Otherwise, the fee is $100 (65 GBP) per overweight bag and one-way journey. If you’re leaving from a country that uses a different local currency, the GBP amount will be converted to the local currency. Payment by cash may incur a commission charge. It is not possible to check in bags that weigh over 32 kilograms.

Musical and sports equipment

Airport staff will endeavor to find space in the cabin for musical instruments that are within the dimensions of 31 x 11 x 10 inches (80 x 30 x 25 centimeters) as part of, but not in addition to, your free hand baggage allowance. This means you can have a small handbag/laptop size bag as well as your smaller musical instrument case which will count as your second piece of hand baggage. BA will try and accommodate instruments of up to 75 x 29.5 x 25.5 inches (190 x 75 x 65 centimeters) in the hold, provided you notify the airline at least 24 hours before your flight. If your instrument weighs more than 23 kilograms, you’ll need to pay an overweight baggage charge. The maximum weight of musical instruments they can carry is 99 pounds (45 kilograms). The same size and weight restrictions apply to sporting equipment.

What additional fees does BA charge?

Booking fees
Flight cancellation policy
Travel insurance

Booking fees

Booking fees depend on your departure country and whether the flight is considered long-haul or short-haul. Amounts are listed via the calculator here. As an example, a $25 fee is applied for call-center bookings for short- and long-haul flights in the U.S., while online bookings made on the same routes are free.

Flight cancellation policy

If you change your booking on, the system will tell you automatically which charges apply for fare differences or additional taxes. Fees range from $10 when the cancellation is made online, up to $35 if made at the airport ticket office. These service fees apply when a change is made to a booking, irrespective of where the ticket was originally purchased. For example, if you make a booking online in the U.S. and then make a change to your booking through the UK Contact Center, the service fee applied would be that relevant to the UK Contact Center, and not the service fee for in the U.S.

Travel insurance

Columbus Direct offers a choice of Value and Deluxe cover levels and flexible policies for individuals, couples, and families flying with BA. Comprehensive cover includes:

  • trip cancellation or delays,
  • lost or delayed baggage,
  • medical cover,
  • repatriation and 24-hour assistance.

What amenities does British Airways offer?

In-flight entertainment
Frequent Flier Program

In-flight entertainment

British Airways’ latest in-flight entertainment options available on the “High Life” entertainment platform.


In-flight meals and drinks are available on British Airways flights and differ depending on whether your flight is a long-haul flight or a short-haul one. Short-haul economy dining is charged while long-haul meals are complimentary.

Seating and legroom

You can reserve seats through the Manage my Booking page. After entering your British Airways booking reference, you will be able to select your preferred seating option(s). You may be able to reserve seats for free or have to pay, depending on your class and route. Standard seats on UK domestic and European flights start from $11 (GBP 7 / EUR 8) in Euro Traveller and on longer international flights from $30 (GBP 20 / EUR 24) in World Traveller.

Frequent flier program

British Airways has the Executive Club Frequent Flyer program with 4 different tiers for passengers who travel regularly with the airline. The basic Blue package offers the following:

  • Join for free and collect reward points called Avios.
  • Collect Avios when you fly or with a range of partners.
  • Avios can be used on flights, hotels, car hire and other travel rewards.
  • The ability to share accounts with family and friends


British Airways offers over 30 dedicated departure lounges and more than 100 additional partner lounges worldwide. You can use them if you’re:

  • flying on a scheduled British Airways Flight First, Club World or Club Europe
  • a Silver or Gold Member* of the British Airways Executive Club
  • an Emerald or Sapphire member of any of the Oneworld airline frequent flyer programmes
  • over the age of 18 years, or if under 18 years you are accompanied by a responsible adult.

Delayed, missing or damaged luggage
Compensation for baggage

Delayed, missing or damaged luggage

Damage to checked baggage must be reported at your arrival airport. In addition, a claim should be submitted to British Airways within 7 days from the date of bag damage occurring. If your luggage is lost or delayed on a domestic flight, you will need to report it within the baggage reclaim area at the airport by filling out a Property Irregularity Report (PIR). An online form is available and should be filled out within 8 days of the bag going missing. Once submitted, you will receive a 10-character reference number that you can use to monitor the progress of the tracing procedure via the baggage tracing tool online.

Compensation for baggage

Liability for the airline is based on the Montreal Convention. The applicable limits of liability in the case of destruction, loss of, or damage or delay to baggage on a flight operated by British Airways or a European Union British Airways franchise carrier is 1,131 Special Drawing Rights, which is approximately $1,625 (GBP 1,100 or EUR 1,320). The airline does not accept claims for damage or loss to items in checked baggage which are fragile, perishable or of special value.

Fun facts

Mylius Modern is the custom-made typeface used by British Airways.

British Airways was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Melisse Hinkle
Author: Melisse Hinkle (271 posts)

A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has traveled throughout North America, biked through rice paddies in Bali, seen the Northern Lights in Iceland, walked alongside llamas in Machu Picchu and made her way around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Head of Content and Social Media for North America at Cheapflights.