The first thing people look for in a airline ticket, is price. Sure, some go for scheduling or specific airports, but price is usually paramount for most travelers.

But beyond price, a few extra factors still exist, which can really tiebreak tickets, like: baggage allowance, miles – or being able to change at a reasonable price.

British Airways short haul tickets, those for travel within the UK and Europe have one very underrated advantage: free changes on the day of travel. That’s definitely worth knowing about, so here’s how to change British Airways short haul flights – for free!

First Step

The first step to changing your flight for free is booking the correct ticket.

British Airways hand luggage only fares (basic economy) fares are NOT eligible for free changes. Every other ticket British Airways sells on short haul is eligible for this “free changes” on the day of departure.

This is a potentially very valuable benefit, which is often good enough reason to pay up for the higher (standard economy) fare, known as Plus. We’ll explain why later.

Second Step

Free changes can only occur within 24 hours of travel on the same day of your flight.

You must keep the same airports and routings, so no switching from Gatwick to Heathrow, etc. As long as there’s s an economy seat available on another preferable flight and you’re changing on the same day of the departure, you can change your British Airways short haul ticket for free.

Trying to change at 11PM the night before would not work, but changing at 12:01AM on the day of your flight would.

Third Step

When we say free, we mean free. There’s no fare difference calculation or change fee at all. Even if only crazy expensive tickets are available on the flight you’d like to change to, it doesn’t matter.

If you’re booked on the evening flight but would prefer to leave after breakfast, simply call up British Airways or go online on a laptop, or mobile browser and ask to change once the clock strikes midnight, or after.

The change should be presented to you online when you login to your booking. Easy!

If there’s a seat, you’ll be put on the flight.

With any hope, BA will make this an easy app feature, similar to the way their partner American Airline deals with these same day changes. For now, simply use Skype, or any cheap or free calling service (if you’re outside the UK) to lock in these changes, or just logon to a laptop or desktop computer.

Fourth Step

There’s minimal fine print, but we’ll get it out of the way. You can only change flights up to 1 hour before departure of your previously scheduled flight. So if you’re painfully hungover, and no longer wish to take that 6AM, you’ll need to get in touch before 5AM.

The only other thing is check in. Once you’ve checked in for your flight, it’s a bit harder to change to another flight using this service, but not impossible.

If you have seats assigned, don’t check in until you’re sure you don’t want to change. If you don’t, check in – you’ll still be fine.

Takeaway

Very few things in life are guaranteed – but if you’re willing to take a walk on the wild side, this is a great way to potentially save on tickets. If you are relatively certain other flights on the same day won’t sell out, you could always book a cheaper ticket and hope to change later. Since some flights can be over $200 difference when booking on the same day, there’s great potential…

Have you successfully used this opportunity?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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24 Comments

  1. What about short haul flights outside the EU, in Asia for example? Are those would be different if flying on partners, not on BA metal?

  2. Doesn’t improve the filthy cabins, cramped seating, poor service and premium price with little / no support when things go wrong… You could probably buy an entirely new seat on an LCC and still be better off than BA’s extortionate pricing.

  3. If you phone on the day of departure, are you limited to other flights on the same day or can you re-book a flight for maybe the following week ?

  4. Shouldn’t need to call should work in the app or online, can be a little flakey though especially just after midnight

  5. Also worth knowing that Easyjet offer it via their app for £25 (free at the airport with a plus card)

  6. Does it apply to the short haul segment of a long haul itinerary eg MAN-LHR-JFK-LHR-MAN or does it only work for itineraries that only have short haul?

    1. This works on business class fares as well (I’ve done it on AMS-LGW recently) – just make sure it’s not a hand-baggage only fare.

  7. This is a good perk, I use it quite regularly. It’s especially useful on routes with lots of flights, like LHR – Amsterdam, because you can just turn up at the airport and get on the next flight, like catching a bus.

    Do you know if it works with code-shares e.g. Finnair?

    1. I used this on LHR-TXL. Had booked the last flight of the day, on economy (not basic economy) and then on the day at morning I called BA and moved the ticket to the midday flight. Saved a lot of money. Obviously I was prepared to end up on the original flight if all others fully booked on the day.

      1. Two questions:
        1. Can you make the change via the BA app or do you have to do via their website?

        2. I am flying from ORD to LHR overnight on one ticket landing at 6:50am. I then bought an Economy Plus separate ticket on BA for LHR to MUC that leaves at noon. There is however a 9am flight out of LHR I could make should we arrive on time (and there are available seats). However per your post, it sounds like I can’t change to the earlier flight until the day of – which will happen while I’m in the air flying over from ORD. Do you think I’ll be able to change to the earlier flight via WiFi in air? And would it be effectively at midnight London time (so 6pm central US)?
        Thanks!

  8. I just tried this on AMS-LHR on an Economy Plus fare after checking in (but before downloading the boarding pass), and I was still allowed to make a free change afterwards (subject to all the other caveats ie cabin/routing/etc).

  9. It works on all non-connection short haul flights. If you’ve got a BA Holidays booking you need to ring the BA holidays team. Avios bookings seem to be at the discretion of the airport staff; I’ve had some luck there, too.

  10. limited use if it’s only for changing flights travelling within that same day I.e you can’t “rebook” for a few days later. It’s really only for changing for am to pm on that day.

  11. Do you need to make the changes on the day if the flight as well? I tried changing my pm flight on the 21 Dec to an am flight and despite the pm flight being lower price it is asking me to pay 80 euros more.

  12. Does this have to be BA operated flight or can it also be Iberia operated flight (short haul) with BA flight number?

  13. Did this today for a short haul LIN-LHR. Could not make the change online or on the app, but got through and changed it on the phone for free after approx. 15 mins on hold.

  14. Hey, does this still apply? I have a flight next week from ams to lcy and would love to do this to save £££.
    Or is cityflyer different?

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