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Bumped from First Class to Coach at gate, Paid Ticket

Bumped from First Class to Coach at gate, Paid Ticket

Old Oct 4, 17, 3:14 pm
  #1  
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Bumped from First Class to Coach at gate, Paid Ticket

Just wanted to share this experience as it's happened to me twice in the last 2 years now.

Both times, I booked early for a short flight(SEA/PHX; Sea/LAS), about 6 months or so in advance on cheap first class tickets. AT THE GATE, I was called up last minute and told I'd been bumped back to coach, and we're sorry we didn't see the error sooner. The 2nd time they gave me some business about a plane change, but this was incorrect information, because the plane seating was the same as at booking.

I'm suspicious that Alaska is simply overselling on purpose to someone paying more than me at a later date.


Both times, after haggling and calling, I received a refund for the original price of the first class segment and 3000 bonus miles. If it happens again, I'm going to push a lot harder and consider small claims court. Sitting in coach is no big deal for a short trip and I didn't say much at the time b/c I know it's not something the gate agent did, but it's a lot more the principle of getting what you paid for.

I understand the terms of service protect the airlines quite a bit here, but wondering if anyone else has had this experience?
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Old Oct 4, 17, 3:19 pm
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by gdam22 View Post
Just wanted to share this experience as it's happened to me twice in the last 2 years now.

Both times, I booked early for a short flight(SEA/PHX; Sea/LAS), about 6 months or so in advance on cheap first class tickets. AT THE GATE, I was called up last minute and told I'd been bumped back to coach, and we're sorry we didn't see the error sooner. The 2nd time they gave me some business about a plane change, but this was incorrect information, because the plane seating was the same as at booking.

I'm suspicious that Alaska is simply overselling on purpose to someone paying more than me at a later date.


Both times, after haggling and calling, I received a refund for the original price of the first class segment and 3000 bonus miles. If it happens again, I'm going to push a lot harder and consider small claims court. Sitting in coach is no big deal for a short trip and I didn't say much at the time b/c I know it's not something the gate agent did, but it's a lot more the principle of getting what you paid for.

I understand the terms of service protect the airlines quite a bit here, but wondering if anyone else has had this experience?
So wait a second, without calling would you still have paid the F ticket price AND been on coach? Or did they immediately offer to at least refund you the difference in price between the lowest coach fare and the F ticket?

I don't mind flying in the back either (if I have to in order to get where I want) but I would be furious if I paid ~$300 for a 2 or 3 hour flight when coach tickets back at the time of booking were a little less then $100!!
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Old Oct 4, 17, 3:37 pm
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Originally Posted by gdam22 View Post
I'm suspicious that Alaska is simply overselling on purpose to someone paying more than me at a later date.
That is incredibly shady and not something I think AS would do. I'd hazard a guess that you got bumped by a FAM.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 3:41 pm
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Originally Posted by jinglish View Post
That is incredibly shady and not something I think AS would do. I'd hazard a guess that you got bumped by a FAM.
Or was a victim of the change in the first class cabin size:
Aircraft Change Removed Me From First Class
jerry a. laska is offline  
Old Oct 4, 17, 4:22 pm
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Originally Posted by jerry a. laska View Post
Or was a victim of the change in the first class cabin size:
Aircraft Change Removed Me From First Class
He's already said that the cabin was the same as it was when he booked.

Frankly, this sounds like a play out of United's book.

If the gate agent didn't proactively offer compensation, I'd be livid. Because there's a high probability that the seat went to someone that they suddenly valued more, whether that was a legitimate customer or a non-revving flight attendant.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 4:33 pm
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Originally Posted by Legend717 View Post
He's already said that the cabin was the same as it was when he booked.

Frankly, this sounds like a play out of United's book.

If the gate agent didn't proactively offer compensation, I'd be livid. Because there's a high probability that the seat went to someone that they suddenly valued more, whether that was a legitimate customer or a non-revving flight attendant.
Since the time of booking the plane could have changed more than once, even to a larger first class cabin (which allowed more bookings) and then back to a smaller cabin. The OP also said that this was the second time in two years, the earlier time could have been due to the extensive problems AS was having with the different size cabins. I don't necessarily think the OP was selected for downgrade just because he bought 6 months before. I think AS probably just screwed up.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 5:19 pm
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Originally Posted by Legend717 View Post
Frankly, this sounds like a play out of United's book.
A large part of why people around here like AS so much is that they're so unlike UA and don't have that kind of contempt for their own customers. IT issues (which were plentiful during the -800 reconfigs) and FAMs are far more likely explanations.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 5:50 pm
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There are any number of reasons for the downgrade. The obvious one is a FAM claiming the seat. In that case, it has nothing to do with the price paid for the seat but rather the seat chosen. If it was due to a FAM, I’m guessing the OP was in an aisle seat. The second thing that came to mind was somebody in a protected class took priority. The protected class could be somebody who was bumped from an earlier flight for whatever reason. Not knowing the exact rules AS employs in this case, I couldn’t say how OP ended up winning that lottery. But congratulations, you’re a two time winner.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 5:59 pm
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I don't think it should really make a difference, but what class were the tickets booked in? Were they true F, A, or P? Or was it one of the instant upgrade fare classes, with status, which would have booked into U?

Either way, once confirmed in first, you shouldn't be bumped back at the gate, except in the case of an FAM or I think sometime an on-duty deadheading pilot (onwards to a duty day) which is contracted to be FC. (I seem to recall that was a thing.)
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Old Oct 4, 17, 6:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Legend717 View Post
Frankly, this sounds like a play out of United's book.
Except the part where UA has documented compensation well higher than 3,000 points.

The CoC calls out the refund:
...or if a Passenger is downgraded from a class of service and is not re-accommodated in a seat of an equal or greater class of service for which a fee has been paid, the Passenger may be eligible for a refund in accordance with Rule 17.
I agree with the others that FAM is the likely scenario. And the airline is explicitly not allowed to tell passengers that, which makes it hard for everyone involved.

I also learned today that AS can fly you to SEA instead of YVR and owe you no comp nor refund per the CoC.

Last edited by sbm12; Oct 4, 17 at 6:07 pm
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Old Oct 4, 17, 6:14 pm
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The only time something like this happened to me (another airline) I was offered to fly in F on a later flight or coach on the full flight.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 9:49 pm
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
I also learned today that AS can fly you to SEA instead of YVR and owe you no comp nor refund per the CoC.
How is that? YVR and SEA aren't listed as co-terminals are they?
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Old Oct 5, 17, 7:00 am
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Lawyer up.
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Old Oct 5, 17, 12:02 pm
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Happened to me on Monday

Got an email saying AS overbooked first class (ANC to SEA) and needed volunteers. I called to inquire and only coach seats were middle seats.

I asked for a flight change since my complete itinerary was FAI - KOA. Even willing to switch to next day, but AS said first was unavailable.

​I was downgraded as well. Middle seat in back near the toilets. No compensation offered.

​​​​​​I switched to a red-eye FAI - SEA with a 13 hour layover in SEA. AS switched its tune to claim an equipment change instead of overbooking as their email claimed.
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Old Oct 5, 17, 12:08 pm
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Originally Posted by PDog View Post
Got an email saying AS overbooked first class (ANC to SEA) and needed volunteers. I called to inquire and only coach seats were middle seats.

I asked for a flight change since my complete itinerary was FAI - KOA. Even willing to switch to next day, but AS said first was unavailable.

​I was downgraded as well. Middle seat in back near the toilets. No compensation offered.

​​​​​​I switched to a red-eye FAI - SEA with a 13 hour layover in SEA. AS switched its tune to claim an equipment change instead of overbooking as their email claimed.
There should be some comp.

This is one of the risks of having 12 and 16 cabins in F.

And the a/c change created the overbooking.
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