File photo: Joshua McCarthy, 21, was sitting next to his parents on a British Airways flight from Dubai to Heathrow in April when he became aggressive after drinking five small bottles of wine.

London - British Airways is to take on budget airline rivals by charging less if passengers travel with just hand luggage.

The airline said the cheaper fares – initially to be offered on flights from Gatwick to five destinations – will give passengers “more choice”.

Holidaymakers with luggage to check in will not pay more to compensate for the lower “hand baggage only” fares, BA insisted.

The move will be seen as an attempt to compete with low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet.

Peter Simpson, BA’s director at Gatwick, said: “The introduction of our hand baggage only fare is all about giving our customers more freedom to choose the kind of flying they want. Many British Airways customers on Gatwick short-haul breaks choose not to check in a bag as they’re already taking advantage of our generous two-bag hand luggage policy.

“Those who still want to check in a bag will simply pay the same price they do now.”

BA will offer a discount from next Tuesday for those travelling to short-haul destinations including Amsterdam, Dubrovnik, Jersey, Tunis and Turin. The size of discounts will vary depending on the route but will range from £9 to £15 (about R100 to R200).

Dutch airline KLM recently announced it will begin charging customers who check in luggage on short-haul flights. - Daily Mail