British Airways pledged to fly all passengers to their destinations through a seven-day cabin crew strike which starts today.
The latest stage of the dispute came as BA revealed plans to introduce Club Europe business class on UK domestic routes from April 1.
The industrial action by Unite union members of the airline’s mixed fleet over pay is latest and longest of a series of walkouts staged since the start of the year.
As in past walkouts, BA’s contingency plans involve merging a “very small” number of flights to and from Heathrow between today (Friday) and Monday.
“Affected customers are being contacted with the options available for them and will be able to travel on alternative flights if they wish,” the airline said.
BA confirmed that the “vast majority” of flights between today and Monday will operate as normal, with services from Gatwick and London City airport unaffected.
Further contingency plans for Tuesday to Thursday next week are due to be published on Monday, with the airline saying: “We will once again ensure that all of our customers will travel to their destinations.”
The revamp of the airline’s domestic offering will see all UK flights having Euro Traveller and Club Europe cabins with three grades of economy fare – Basic, Plus, Plus Flex – or Club Europe, which replaces the existing Business UK fare, with differing levels of benefits.
The introduction of Club Europe on domestic flights will provide improved checked luggage allowance, fast track security at Gatwick in addition to Heathrow, a separate cabin, free food and drink, dedicated cabin crew, more Avios and Tier points and earlier airport check in.
BA said: “At the moment, the only part of our network you can’t book a business class seat on is our flights within the UK.
“We know many of our customers who connect between our short haul and long haul services prefer to travel in business class and we want to be able to offer them a consistent experience throughout their journey.
“Club Europe is our business class cabin whereas Business UK is a fare in the UK domestic cabin. Both the UK Domestic and Euro Traveller economy cabins offer the same range of benefits in the Basic and Plus fares.
“What’s new is that you can now take advantage of the Plus Flex fare that offers ability to choose your seat for free from the moment you book, more Avios and Tier Points than Basic and Plus and a full refund if you need to cancel your flight.”
Some of the features and cabin elements may vary according to the time of flight and the type of aircraft in use, according to BA.
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