FlyerTalk Forums - View Single Post - The 2016 BA compensation thread: Your guide to Regulation 261/2004
Old Dec 31, 15, 7:21 am
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Post 5

Downgrading (Article 10 of EC261):

Q1: Am I entitled to compensation if I have been downgraded?
A1: Yes, you are entitled to a fraction of the price paid for the ticket (note: the price actually paid, not the published fare nor the difference in fare between the paid-for class and the actual class of travel):

Q2: Is this calculated by the reference to the price of the whole ticket or only the downgraded segment?
A2: The Regulation is unclear on this and there is no consensus on how this should interpreted. The airlines tend to take the view that the amount has to be pro-rated to the length of the segment in the overall itinerary. This is not an unreasonable position to take even though some will disagree that this is the correct interpretation of the Regulation. If that is so, the amount due could be very small if the downgrade is a short, connecting segment of a long-haul itinerary or of a round-the-world ticket. The CAA has advised us that their view is that whole ticket price should be used, but BA may well have another view.

Q3: I have been downgraded on the LHR-CDG segment of a LAX-LHR-CDG itinerary. Am I entitled to 30%, 50% or 75% of the price of the ticket?
A2: Again, the Regulation is unclear on this. On balance, one can put forward the view that there might be a somewhat stronger case for the ratio to be that of the distance on which the passenger is actually downgraded (therefore 30% in this example) but this is speculative at this stage.

Q4: What about tickets paid with Avios or some other frequent flyer currency?
A4: In principle, the Regulation applies to award tickets and the same ratio should, therefore, in principle apply. Thus, if the passenger paid 100 000 avios for a long-haul ticket, the passenger would be entitled to 75 000 avios back if downgraded (ignoring issues of pro-ration raised in Q2).
Difficulties can arise when the flight was paid by miles from an airline’s frequent flyer programme other than the operating airline's (eg: using AA miles for a BA booking). Theoretically, airlines within alliances should be able to notionally purchase frequent flyer miles from each other and, therefore, BA should theoretically be able to effect a reimbursement in AA miles if required. Another possibility, apparently practised by some airlines, is to calculate a cash reimbursement on the published fare rather than reimburse in frequent flyer miles. We do not have enough information at present to determine how these issues are handled by BA.

Q5: when I booked my ticket in J class, the flight was due to be operated by a long-haul 767. It is now due to be operated by a short-haul 767. Am I entitled to downgrade compensation?
A5: The conventional wisdom on this one is that there is no downgrade within the meaning of EC261, as long as the passenger remains accommodated in the business cabin on a business ticket or in economy on an economy ticket, even if the passenger may regard the quality of one business cabin as significantly below another. In that perspective, a switch from CW to CE would not be a downgrade, anymore than a switch from the business cabin of a top-class carrier to that of a mediocre one would be a downgrade within the meaning of the Regulation.
Some FTers, however, take a different view and consider that substantial quality differences between products are enough to regard a change as a downgrade within the meaning of the Regulation. There are no authoritative judicial pronouncements on this issue. (see also Q9 on “comparable transport conditions” in the FAQ on the right to reimbursement or re-routing)

Q6: Am I entitled to twice the compensation in case of a two-class downgrade?
A6: The Regulation does not seem to have contemplated what would happen in the case of a downgrade of more than one class. While double compensation is a defensible interpretation of the Regulation, it could equally be argued that a passenger is entitled to the same compensation in case of a two-class downgrade as in the case of a one-class downgrade.

Q7: I have been given immediate compensation by BA at the airport which is much below the refund level mentioned above. Am I entitled to more?
A7: The immediate compensation handed by BA at the airport is meant to be additional rather than replace the refund of the ticket provided for in the Regulation. The refund will be made to the person who originally paid for the ticket using the same channel/method as that used for the original payment rather than to the passenger as such.

Last edited by corporate-wage-slave; Dec 31, 15 at 7:31 am
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