Involuntary Downgrade Biz -> Main Cabin in Paid J

Old Jul 6, 19, 10:10 am
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Involuntary Downgrade Biz -> Main Cabin in Paid J

TL;DR: Exec plat on PHL-TXL overnight flight downgraded from J to Y due to seat malfunction...and offered 10k miles goodwill compensation (and the fare difference to economy obviously). Help needed to address the situation and try to escalate it...my feeling/understanding is that the goodwill compensation should certainly be higher than 10k miles.

___________

Hi -

Longtime lurker but haven’t posted much before. Am hoping that you all can help me out...

For some background, I’m 26 years old but have been an Exec Plat for ~5 years now, and I travel extensively on AA/Oneworld for both business and pleasure. Two weeks ago, I was flying from MIA - PHL - TXL - BEG in paid business class (I fare class) and I had an incredibly poor experience.

The events transpired as follows: I was flying MIA to PHL to TXL with an ultimate destination of BEG (connecting via Air Serbia TXL-BEG on the same AA-issued ticket). The MIA to PHL flight was uneventful. However, the PHL to TXL flight was a disaster. Due to mechanical issues with the aircraft’s air conditioning unit, we were delayed nearly four and a half hours in PHL. After nearly three hours of sitting on the aircraft (in terribly uncomfortable heat), they finally deplaned us. During that time, I called the AAdvantage desk to try to get rerouted to Belgrade due to the impending misconnect in Berlin, and spent over an hour trying to find a way to get out of Philadelphia and to Belgrade the next day so as to not miss my work event. However, ultimately, due to the late hour (it was already after 9pm), there were no flights available from PHL that night that could get me to Belgrade the next day.

Resigned to the fact that I would miss a work event that I needed to attend, I had the phone agent drop the TXL – BEG segment from my itinerary so I could take at least some of my work meetings remotely in Berlin. Since this involved briefly removing me from the flight, I made sure to have the AAdmirals Club agent then re-check me back in to the TXL flight and re-print my boarding pass.

However, when they began to re-board us all on the PHL-TXL flight, my boarding pass beeped and the gate agent stopped me and said that my seat (4J, which I had selected in advance) had been blocked because it was broken. I clarified with the gate agent, explaining that it certainly hadn’t been broken when I was sitting in it an hour prior! She explained that it wasn’t my seat that was broken, but in fact a flight attendant’s jumpseat that was broken and that the flight attendant had to be re-seated in a Business class seat for safety reasons.

When I asked what the plan to fix the situation was, the attendant informed me that she would have to downgrade me to Main Cabin because Business class was full. I was shocked. Truly, utterly shocked. I pushed back politely once again, asking why I – a paying business class passenger – would be downgraded instead of someone who used miles or who was upgraded (indeed, one passenger had cleared via an upgrade!!). Even another agent questioned her, asking if they should follow their ‘standard downgrade procedure’. The lead agent didn’t offer a direct response, but I can only speculate that my age (I’m 26 years old) and polite demeanor meant that I was the ‘path of least resistance’ rather than attempting to downgrade one of the customers that she had already let board the plane and risk them ‘making a scene’. By that time, I was the only person not re-boarded, and the gate agents were exhausted from dealing with the chaos of the four hour delay and seemed to just want to get the plane in the air. But – still shocked by the situation – I asked if there were any other options, and she said no – I could either not fly or fly in Main Cabin, and that after the flight I should contact American to both get the difference in fare refunded, as well as goodwill compensation for the downgrade.

So, the next day, I call AAdvantage Customer Service and a very kind agent advises me to write everything down and email it through the website. I do this, and finally receive a response today. Their goodwill compensation: 10,000 AAdvantage miles (as well as the refund for the difference between the J and Y fares for that segment obviously.) Am I crazy, or is that a ridiculously low level of compensation for an involuntary downgrade on a paid business class redeye ticket? I mean people who get bumped off of their economy flights regularly get $800+ travel vouchers!

I would love any advice people have on what I can do to address the situation. I certainly was expecting - at a minimum - a travel voucher for significantly more than the value of 10k miles. Is there a way I can escalate this? Would love any/all tips or help. THANK YOU!

Last edited by Cason Crane; Jul 6, 19 at 10:38 am Reason: Edited TL;DR
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Old Jul 6, 19, 10:17 am
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Sorry to hear about your situation. I too would have been livid. Your Letter to AA is way too long and full of extraneous blabber. I only made it past the second paragraph. You should really only sent to AA the paragraph you wrote us. “Broken seat, 10K miles”. I would think at a bare minimum the fare difference between J and Y.

Was it one of these POS 752 ghetto birds?
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Old Jul 6, 19, 10:24 am
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Originally Posted by enviroian View Post
Sorry to hear about your situation. I too would have been livid. Your Letter to AA is way too long and full of extraneous blabber. I only made it past the second paragraph. You should really only sent to AA the paragraph you wrote us. “Broken seat, 10K miles”. I would think at a bare minimum the fare difference between J and Y.
Would ya?
Originally Posted by Cason Crane View Post
...Their goodwill compensation: 10,000 AAdvantage miles (as well as the refund for the difference between the J and Y fares for that segment obviously.) ...
OP; your "TL;DR" section aint cuttin' it in this respect.
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Old Jul 6, 19, 10:26 am
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No it was a 767 with the 1-2-1 throne style seating...but really old seats (no inseat power or anything) in Y.

AA is refunding the fare difference between Y and J...but the reality is that, if I’d wanted to fly Y, I would have bought Y... I had planned and paid for business and really feel like they should have offered additional goodwill compensation beyond the 10k miles. For example, I think on UA it’s standard practice for a flight over 4,000 miles to offer a $1000 travel voucher as goodwill compensation in a similar downgrade event.

And I would have written a shorter letter, but the agent on the phone told me to be very detailed and mention anything potentially relevant, so I followed her advice haha.
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Old Jul 6, 19, 10:27 am
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Appreciate it - will update the original post to include that. My understanding, though, was that that was a given... I was asking for advice on the goodwill compensation, not the refund. But will update the TL;DR now.
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Old Jul 6, 19, 10:29 am
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OP what is TL;DR?
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Old Jul 6, 19, 10:30 am
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Originally Posted by JonNYC View Post
Would ya?


OP; your "TL;DR" section aint cuttin' it in this respect.
Sorry - replied above but forgot to do the ‘quote’ thing - new to this
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Old Jul 6, 19, 10:30 am
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Originally Posted by enviroian View Post
OP what is TL;DR?
TL;DR = Too long; didn’t read

Mean to be an extremely high level summary of a lengthy post, trying to capture the gist without every detail
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Old Jul 6, 19, 10:33 am
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Originally Posted by Cason Crane View Post


TL;DR = Too long; didn’t read

Mean to be an extremely high level summary of a lengthy post, trying to capture the gist without every detail
Gotcha.

10K miles is an insult. You said this was an I fare? Is that discount J? I bet the delta between fares on that overseas leg are probably narrow unfortunately.
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Old Jul 6, 19, 10:35 am
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Originally Posted by JonNYC View Post
Would ya?


OP; your "TL;DR" section aint cuttin' it in this respect.
For context - here is the relevant UA comparable situation guidelines as far as I understand: Downgraded from First/Business Class on United (Questions, Compensation, etc.)

I’m not trying to be difficult or entitled in this - I’m just really surprised that the ‘going rate’ for goodwill compensation in this type of situation is only 10k miles (on top of the refund of fare difference) when UA’s is a $1000 voucher (on top of the refund of fare difference).

Last edited by Cason Crane; Jul 6, 19 at 10:37 am Reason: Edited for clarity
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Old Jul 6, 19, 10:42 am
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They give 10k miles for malfunctioning video.

In the future, be prepared with an alternative route (preferably on a One World airline), and ask them to put you on that flight.
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Old Jul 6, 19, 10:47 am
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Originally Posted by beachfan View Post
They give 10k miles for malfunctioning video.

In the future, be prepared with an alternative route (preferably on a One World airline), and ask them to put you on that flight.
I tried this - unfortunately there aren’t a ton of late night flights from PHL and they were all sold out. We were reboarding at around 11pm, so by the point they informed me of my downgrade, there were literally 0 other flights departing that night, and spending a night in Philly to wait until the next night’s flights wasn’t a realistic option. :/
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Old Jul 6, 19, 10:48 am
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Originally Posted by Cason Crane View Post


For context - here is the relevant UA comparable situation guidelines as far as I understand: Downgraded from First/Business Class on United (Questions, Compensation, etc.)

I’m not trying to be difficult or entitled in this - I’m just really surprised that the ‘going rate’ for goodwill compensation in this type of situation is only 10k miles (on top of the refund of fare difference) when UA’s is a $1000 voucher (on top of the refund of fare difference).
10k AAdvantage miles certainly sounds insufficient to me.
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Old Jul 6, 19, 10:51 am
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OP, sorry for your trouble.

A question for the community, does a FA assigned business class need to be in a business class seat if the flight attendant's jump seat is broken?
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Old Jul 6, 19, 11:02 am
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Originally Posted by Cason Crane View Post


For context - here is the relevant UA comparable situation guidelines as far as I understand: Downgraded from First/Business Class on United (Questions, Compensation, etc.)

I’m not trying to be difficult or entitled in this - I’m just really surprised that the ‘going rate’ for goodwill compensation in this type of situation is only 10k miles (on top of the refund of fare difference) when UA’s is a $1000 voucher (on top of the refund of fare difference).
I would follow-up by replying to the email, note that 10,000 miles is insufficient, and tell them exactly what you want. If the $1,000 voucher is what you desire, tell them that, but fully expect that they will provide something far less.

You can also highlight the difference in cost between business and economy the day you booked (if you recall a general ballpark), but their policy tends to be to refund the current difference between the rates absent proof from the customer to the contrary.
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