Why has BA tightened ID checks on UK domestic?
Let's look at the schedule to find out
Britain is not a papers, please society. Only youngsters looking to buy booze or try their luck at a groovy nightclub would normally carry ID. I thought those days were behind me.
For as long as I can remember, taking a domestic flight with British Airways has never required proof that I am indeed your favourite airline revenue economist. So when I read that passports or other photo ID will be required on all BA flights effective Friday 1-Sep-23 I was surprised.
What could be behind this? I decided to start by looking at BA’s domestic network and I think I have the answer.
I took a week of schedule data from spring next year, choosing Sun-17-Mar-24 to Sat-23-Mar-24. A week before Easter, this is:
1. Late enough into the year that travel will be happening
2. A week too early for the public holidays, so it should be representative of ‘normal’
3. Soon enough that BA should already be reasonably committed to flying what they have published
4. Not associated with the start of British Summer Time (31-Mar-24), or Daylight Savings Time in BA’s core USA market (10-Mar-24).
BA flies to seven domestic destinations from Heathrow, three from City Airport and one from Gatwick. Here are the network maps, produced using the excellent Great Circle Mapper tool (see article). There are no flights to some destinations I remember BA flying to in the past, including Leeds, Birmingham or Newquay.
I evaluated 897 flights representing approximately 132,253 seats of capacity – more on why that number is approximate comes later. Here is what I found…
Take a look at BA’s longhaul schedule (see article) and it is a thing of simplicity. Every day the BA173 ploughs over the Atlantic to New York, with lucky passengers leaving at 11:20 on a Boeing 777. Also every day, the BA169 to Shanghai at 12:30 is operated with a beautiful Boeing 787-9 and a lovely A380 heads south to Johannesburg as BA55.
Domestic though could not be more different. At first glance it is a confusing jumble and out of the 897 flights I found in that week, none are exactly the same every day. Airline network planners call this a split schedule and there are five dimensions over which the flights can be made distinct:
1. Different departure and arrival times on each day
2. Different flight lengths each day
3. Different aircraft types operating the same flight each day
4. Different flight numbers for similarly timed flights
5. Different dates that a particular departure-number-aircraft combination starts and ends in the schedule – I did not analyse this.
The BA1327 from Newcastle upon Tyne (my home town!) to Heathrow is a good example of points 1, 2 and 3:
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