Involuntary downgrade?

Old May 7, 21, 11:25 am
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Involuntary downgrade?

Traveling CLT-HNL today as a party of 4 in First (I'm on a comp UG, upgraded rest of the family months ago with SWUs). Everybody's checked in last night, we got boarding passes at CLT this morning and headed to the lounge.

When we get to the gate ~25 minutes before departure, passengers are still boarding but when we scan our boarding passes, they've given all four of our seats away to nonrevs. Tried to talk to the gate agents, they said they paged our names after all F passengers boarded and thought we weren't coming

Obviously, boarding passes indicate that boarding ends 15 minutes prior. GAs said our only option was to downgrade if we wanted to get on the flight, and assigned us random seats in the PE cabin.

Thoughts on if this is considered an involuntary downgrade? Am I due a refund of the SWUs? Any other compensation?
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Old May 7, 21, 11:31 am
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That is not right. Couldn’t the gate agent see if you had any checked bags? Or the scan from your entry to the AC? IMHO the gate agent should have downgraded the non-revs. Since it is done write to customer relations, you should at a minimum get your SWUs back. Hopefully someone reads your email.
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Old May 7, 21, 11:39 am
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If it was at T-25 GAs almost would never give away F seats, particularly as some F paxs that have checked their bigger bag like to board towards the end. The Non Revers should have been back to Y.
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Old May 7, 21, 11:42 am
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Technically, they changed the gate arrival requirements to 30 minutes for domestic and 45 minutes for international last year --
https://simpleflying.com/american-passenger-gate-time/

https://www.aa.com/i18n/customer-ser...f-carriage.jsp

Arriving at the gate

Be at the gate and ready to board the plane at least:
  • 30 minutes before departure on domestic flights
  • 45 minutes before departure for international flights
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Old May 7, 21, 11:43 am
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Originally Posted by MiamiAirport Formerly NY George View Post
If it was at T-25 GAs almost would never give away F seats, particularly as some F paxs that have checked their bigger bag like to board towards the end. The Non Revers should have been back to Y.
Yes, this is clearly GA shenanigans in favor of NRSA. They should not offload pax until the boarding cut-off has passed, which is exactly what the CoC state:
Boarding ends 15 minutes before departure. If you’re not on board, we may reassign your seat to another passenger. You will not be allowed to board once the doors close.

Getting SWU back should just be the starting point in terms of compensation.
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Old May 7, 21, 11:53 am
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Originally Posted by la2clt View Post
That is not right. Couldn’t the gate agent see if you had any checked bags? Or the scan from your entry to the AC? IMHO the gate agent should have downgraded the non-revs. Since it is done write to customer relations, you should at a minimum get your SWUs back. Hopefully someone reads your email.
Unfortunately had carry-ons only. GA took me for some idiot and said that the PE seats are "basically the same as first class." Yeah, right

Originally Posted by xliioper View Post
Technically, they changed the gate arrival requirements to 30 minutes for domestic and 45 minutes for international last year
True, although as Kacee mentioned, right after that it states that boarding ends 15 minutes prior and implies that seats will only be given away if not on board at that point.
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Old May 7, 21, 11:59 am
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Originally Posted by aacar View Post
Unfortunately had carry-ons only. GA took me for some idiot and said that the PE seats are "basically the same as first class." Yeah, right


True, although as Kacee mentioned, right after that it states that boarding ends 15 minutes prior and implies that seats will only be given away if not on board at that point.
Perhaps it's implied, but technically, they are not exclusive. While unsaid, they could potentially give your seat away if a) you do not meet the gate arrival time, or b) you don't meet the boarding time. It's not really clear if gate arrival times are only recommended or required. Generally if it's only a recommendation, they will state that.

Last edited by xliioper; May 7, 21 at 12:04 pm
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Old May 7, 21, 12:04 pm
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Originally Posted by xliioper View Post
Perhaps it's implied, but technically, they are not exclusive. While unsaid, they could potentially give your seat away if a) you do not meet the gate arrival time, or b) you don't meet the boarding time.
Actually, only a failure to meet the boarding cut-off triggers a right to offload. When a contract grants an express right, implied rights are excluded (inclusio unius exclusio alterius).
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Old May 7, 21, 12:21 pm
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Forgot to mention that we flew DTW-CLT last night on the same ticket. I hope the SWUs aren't somehow considered "used" since that segment was flown in F (obviously the intent was to upgrade the CLT-HNL leg).
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Old May 7, 21, 12:52 pm
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It's unfortunate that this happened, especially if you were at the gate on time. Gate agents get away with these things because they know they can. Even if were late and the airline was willing to let you on they should have sent the freeloaders to economy. You earned those upgrades the help didn't. Hopefully American can make this right and either send you miles or some upgrade certificates that can be confirmed into any available business class seat.
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Old May 7, 21, 1:17 pm
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It happens. Especially on early-in-the-day flights. I've lingered in the club too long and lost my seat up front too. My friends the pilots (it used to be a large group, but now we're all old enough many of them are retired or retiring) tell me there is an intense AA blame game if the plane does not button up and push on time--but they support the concept because delays cascade through the day and get larger not smaller.

I would hope you can get the upgrade instruments back, but it may make a difference if they were used on the other leg(s). I really would not expect much if anything more. If you were not on a random true three-class airplane, there really is not much service difference right now between first and business.

Once a passenger, however they are covering the cost of the ride, has been boarded and put in a seat, it is difficult and time-consuming to move them. My friends the pilots differ in opinion, but some tell me there administrative compliance issues to moving a boarded passenger. The learning here is don't let it happen to you.

Last edited by jayer; May 7, 21 at 1:25 pm
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Old May 7, 21, 1:53 pm
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that's not ok, the gate agents should wait to asign F seats until they know your not coming. If their worried about a on time departure put the standbys in Y, o wait that would never happen.
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Old May 7, 21, 2:14 pm
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The GA must have been pretty motivated to give the seats in first to the non-revs if he did so early enough that they were already seated 25 minutes before departure.

Originally Posted by aacar View Post
Unfortunately had carry-ons only. GA took me for some idiot and said that the PE seats are "basically the same as first class." Yeah, right
"Then I'm sure the non-revs won't mind being moved so we can take our originally assigned seats."
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Old May 7, 21, 3:24 pm
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This is a nightmare scenario and calls for a serious complaint. Boarding a domestic flight at T-25 is nothing unusual and I would be stunned if my confirmed SWU seat was taken away. Worse, they can claim you already burned the SWU on DTW-CLT. You should make a strong case in your complaint that you were cheated out of most of the value of the confirmed SWU.
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Old May 7, 21, 4:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Doppy View Post
The GA must have been pretty motivated to give the seats in first to the non-revs if he did so early enough that they were already seated 25 minutes before departure.
This 100%. Sounds like a trigger happy let me get my colleagues into those F seats.

I would have demanded those non revs be yanked out of those seats and not budge until a manager came over.

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