Downgrading yourself

Old Oct 18, 18, 10:11 pm
  #1  
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Downgrading yourself

Semi-hypothetical question: If you are on a business fare (say P), on a plane with a business/first cabin, can you request to be seated in economy? If yes, will it cause complications down the road? How about on a partner?

Reason this occurred to me, is that I am flying with the Mrs on separate tickets. P fare for me, W for her with GPU confirmed at booking on UA segments. But we fly a short ANA segment where GPU wouldn't work, so if we want to sit together easiest would be for me to sit in economy. I found another solution, so I don't need to try this, but I still would like to know the answer.
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Old Oct 18, 18, 10:36 pm
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Generally no, this would not be easy to do. (Anything is possible but that's a little beside the point.) The easiest way to approach this would be to politely ask the pax in Y to swap seats with you.
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Old Oct 19, 18, 12:12 am
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Agree with findark that itís not easy at all. And swapping cabins with random pax could also be an issue, let alone on ANA.

How short is the ANA flight? If itís only a couple of hours can you really not be separated for that long? if I were you Iíd stick to your current seats, or do an honorable straight swap and have the boss up front and you take her Y seat.

Although NH Y is tighter than E+ I think theyíre fine.
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Old Oct 19, 18, 6:03 am
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ANA will not allow the passenger swap, this is a definite no go - don't even try. Japanese airlines work off a set of rules, and passenger service and needs are secondary to rules, procedures and processes. While you can check with the ANA Lounge concierge during your layover, there is almost no way I can see any type of change - ANA will insist the segment must be rebooked by the airline or travel agent who owns the ticket, resulting in a fare re-calculation which will be a nightmare after the outbound segment was flown.

What you *might* be able to do is exchange seats with your wife onboard after asking the flight attendant during early boarding - but I give it a 90% chance of being refused because it is not part of a "normal or expected" process.
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Old Oct 19, 18, 6:35 am
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Don't mess with your tickets. It's always possible that it works, but much more likely that it does not and that something else gets loused up.

Best option is to wait until boarding and deal with this informally with the lead FA for the J cabin. Simply ask if it's OK for your wife to take your seat and be done with it.

On a US carrier, this would all be easy. Either your wife takes the F/J seat and tells the FA or you swap with your wife's seatmate and take a Y seat. Not on many non-US carriers.
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Old Oct 19, 18, 7:43 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Don't mess with your tickets. It's always possible that it works, but much more likely that it does not and that something else gets loused up.

Best option is to wait until boarding and deal with this informally with the lead FA for the J cabin. Simply ask if it's OK for your wife to take your seat and be done with it.

On a US carrier, this would all be easy. Either your wife takes the F/J seat and tells the FA or you swap with your wife's seatmate and take a Y seat. Not on many non-US carriers.
Itís far from a given on United even. Iíve had mixed results switching with my wife under the same circumstances. It all depends on the mood of the FA it seems. I donít know about other US carriers.
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Old Oct 19, 18, 7:46 am
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Originally Posted by bocastephen View Post
Japanese airlines work off a set of rules, and passenger service and needs are secondary to rules, procedures and processes.
What you *might* be able to do is exchange seats with your wife onboard after asking the flight attendant during early boarding - but I give it a 90% chance of being refused because it is not part of a "normal or expected" process.
I've had ANA flight attendants get antsy by just swapping seats within a cabin; they do not deal with change very well :-)

I used to fly ANA all the time back in the 90s and a little joke I would play on most flights would be to wait until we were airborne a half hour and ask one of the FAs "what time do we arrive in Bali?" My flights were usually in and around Korea and Japan, so this would cause immediate eye bulging and angst and sometimes even shaking from the FA. "The system has failed!! The system cannot fail!!! What has happened!?!!!!?" I always let them off the hook pretty quickly, but I will admit to getting a kick on how seriously they took everything. Asking for a second cup of soda or juice - when they used to serve Dixie cups in coach - seemed to confuse them as to what to do. "Everyone gets one tuna fish sandwich with the crusts cut off and one cup of beverage. ď <removed by moderator>

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Old Oct 19, 18, 8:26 am
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Originally Posted by bocastephen View Post
ANA will not allow the passenger swap, this is a definite no go - don't even try. Japanese airlines work off a set of rules, and passenger service and needs are secondary to rules, procedures and processes.
Having lived in Japan for seven years and flown a lot on ANA, I can tell you that ANA is just a reflection of Japanese culture. As a culture, they are a rules-following people. Americans see rules as a guideline to ensure fairness, but we can all conjure up scenarios where it would benefit all parties to bend the rules. Not so in Japan -- there they see following the rules as a way of promoting harmony. Everyone expects everyone to follow the rules, so everyone does. I wouldn't try to switch seats with anyone including your spouse. You may ask the GA once if you can be seated together without mentioning that you're in different cabins, and see if they can give you a solution. If you get the teeth suck, there's a "maybe" coming. And in Japan, "maybe" means "no," they're just too polite to say it.
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Old Oct 19, 18, 9:00 am
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As someone who has done business in Japan several times per year for over 25 years, I can assure that what everyone else here has said about rules and expected behaviors in Japan is true. Asking for concessions, even small ones, is very awkward for them because they are trained and required to do things a certain way. Thus, your small request becomes disobedience on their part if they accommodate you.

However, might I suggest that, as you board, you seek out the purser and tell them that you are in separate cabins, and that you would be most grateful if they could find a way to seat you together. This lets the purser take initiative, if they so choose, and solve the problem. I have had luck with this approach before but the decision is not made quickly, i.e. you will have wait a while to see if they do anything for you. So, after you have made your request, tell the FA that you will wait in your assigned seats.

Good Luck.
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Old Oct 19, 18, 9:09 am
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Originally Posted by catocony View Post
I've had ANA flight attendants get antsy by just swapping seats within a cabin; they do not deal with change very well :-)

I used to fly ANA all the time back in the 90s and a little joke I would play on most flights would be to wait until we were airborne a half hour and ask one of the FAs "what time do we arrive in Bali?" My flights were usually in and around Korea and Japan, so this would cause immediate eye bulging and angst and sometimes even shaking from the FA. "The system has failed!! The system cannot fail!!! What has happened!?!!!!?" I always let them off the hook pretty quickly, but I will admit to getting a kick on how seriously they took everything. Asking for a second cup of soda or juice - when they used to serve Dixie cups in coach - seemed to confuse them as to what to do. "Everyone gets one tuna fish sandwich with the crusts cut off and one cup of beverage. Why does this roundeye yankee want two cups? That's not in the service handbook!!"
Totally agree. This is the other side of the coin when I hear people pining for ANA-style service on UA flights...

For the OP, I wouldn't expect much success doing what you're asking, either on board or beforehand. You may have some success if you just abandon your J seat for an empty Y once on board.
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Old Oct 19, 18, 9:24 am
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On a domestic United flight I once offered my F seat to the person sitting next to my wife in Y which worked out fine (as he accepted, he looked around as if to find the hidden camera). But I did not try this on an international flight, let alone on an Asian carrier...
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Old Oct 19, 18, 10:06 am
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I had this exact problem on ANA about two years ago with the Mrs. NRT/HKG. This particular leg I was in F and she was in E. I solved the problem by simply telling the FA that she was going to sit in my chair and I in hers. They were fine with it, but it was not as easy a process as it would be on UA. On the way back PEK/NRT we decided to switch who was sitting where and such. It caused so much trouble we almost could not board in PEK. Once we got to NRT her F seat to DEN was completely gone. We were lucky that the GS agent helped us and there was a seat left in F. I would not recommend trying to fix the ticket.
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Old Oct 19, 18, 11:06 am
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As this is a (now hypothetical) question about ANA procedure and policy, please follow the thread in that forum.

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Old Oct 21, 18, 12:32 am
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As others have mentioned above, I agree with the 90-100% probability ANA does not allow this. Japanese companies and rules... it curtails risk-taking, inhibits innovation, keeps ROE miserable, and paves the way for collective thinking and lack of accountability.

However, for a company that is obsessed with rules, I find it ironic that on the infamous NH175 last December which I was on, ANA moved the unaccounted for passenger to 5D mid-flight (I was in 5A). I'm sure there was no rule in their manual which stated moving an unaccounted for passenger to an empty seat in business class, in a sparsely occupied mini-cabin, that is a few rows away from the cockpit! It could have very well been this passenger's motive to storm the cockpit - why would you risk it one bit with a passenger who's not on your manifest!

And going back to this thread, we're talking about a husband and wife trying to swap seats, or asking to voluntarily downgrade to sit together. Nothing sketchy about that. It would be a pity if ANA doesn't troubleshoot this for the benefit of the customer.
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Old Nov 2, 18, 11:11 pm
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Board early and ask the cabin manager, however expect to be turned down....or charged for it?! I once asked if I could move from J into the empty seat in Y by my friend. One of the ground staff came on with a credit card machine and said if I wanted to sit in an economy seat then I would have to change my ticket to economy for that leg of my journey. Needless to say, I didn't pay.
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