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BA Involuntary Downgrade F>J – but with ample notice, what are my rights? (1st post)

BA Involuntary Downgrade F>J – but with ample notice, what are my rights? (1st post)

Old Sep 15, 17, 5:53 am
  #1  
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BA Involuntary Downgrade F>J – but with ample notice, what are my rights? (1st post)

Total FT newbie here so pls be kind lol I'd just apprciete a little advice...

***TL;DR…. With reference to the EU261/2004 regulations – is the 75% fare refund still applicable if you are involuntarily downgraded from F to J (due to cancellation/equipment change) even if you have been given months notice prior departure?****

Booked holiday for sister and myself LHR>GIG on BA First (cash payment). This would have been my FIRST ever F class flight on any carrier, was very excited and as we are only going for 3 nights (for rio carnival) the fact it was first was a massive part of holiday. Sadly, since booking, we’ve been downgraded to J to due to equipment swap 777>787. I called BA who informed zero compensation payable as I booked the cheapest F class and fare they had provided ‘comparable transport conditions’ J on Club World– all of which I naively took as being kosher. As a result, I asked if we could be rerouted in First LHR>GRU (Sao Paulo) I even offered to pay for our own connecting flights GRU>GIG. BA agreed and changed my flight but, due to a slight date change, I was unable to rebook my sisters flight without consulting first. When I called back later to change to my sisters flight this was declined. Was shirtily informed my reroute was a one-off, in fact erroneous, ‘gesture of good will,’. If I wanted to fly with my sister I would have to fly in CW with her, still without any comp. Dissatisfied, I escalated my complaint to the line-manager who upheld the operators position . Eventually, he proposed a refund of the difference in fares for my sisters flight only, which I reluctantly accepted as I had been left to believe it would be the best offer I would be able to negotiate. So, bewilderingly, we now fly on separate dates, on separate planes - to separate destinations - on our joint holiday! (!?!?) ….brilliant!!!!

Thankfully however, I recently read the EU261/2004 regulations (!!) and now I feel I have been misled by BA, who at best have been disingenuous with me. In light of then legislation, I’d now like to fly out with my sister in CW and obtain appropriate compensation.

So…will the 75% fare refund still be applicable in my particular circumstance i.e. where I have been given months of advance notice? My feeling is yes I am legally entitled; but I’ll have to give irrefutable reasoning. If not, why not (I don’t see time limits mentioned) and what should I seek instead?

As a compromise, I would potentially accept the same level of refund my sister was offered (with CCR access) but I’m conscious BA will try to reframe the situation as to avoid any additional alterations. I really don’t want to be left with this expensive, haphazard mess. Its an arrangement I would have never entertained if I was aware, or (ideally) been made aware, of my EU rights. I need to know if I’ve a definite leg to stand on. And if so, how best to present the argument so that BA can’t shirk out of their duties.

    Last edited by DrFlyerT; Sep 16, 17 at 10:25 am Reason: (Personal reasons for being so miffed its not F)
    DrFlyerT is offline  
    Old Sep 15, 17, 6:16 am
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    Welcome to the forum - there's lots of really good information although you've already managed to fly in F class so you're doing pretty well to start with.

    [Incorrect information provided - confused the notice period re: cnacellation - however I wonder whether BA could unilaterally cancel the ticket instead].

    Last edited by Cymro; Sep 15, 17 at 6:42 am
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    Old Sep 15, 17, 6:28 am
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    Senior Mod and Moderator: Aegean Miles&Bonus and British Airways
     
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    Originally Posted by Cymro View Post
    Welcome to the forum - there's lots of really good information although you've already managed to fly in F class so you're doing pretty well to start with.

    In answer to your question about a 75% refund, the answer is no, but you would have been entitled to a full refund with loss of your ticket.

    Whether that worked better for you than a rebooking is a question for the specific question.
    DrFlyerT, welcome to FT and the BA board. We have some people here very knowledgeable in the workings of EC261, who will probably be along shortly to help you with some specifics as to what to do.

    In the interim, I will say that downgrade compensation under Article 10 does not have a time limit, so personally I wouldn't agree with Cymro's analysis - although you should be aware that if the refund does come under the scope of the regulation, it will only be 75% of the sector length, less any mandatory taxes (such as APD). It is possible, though unlikely, that the refund in fare difference might be very similar so make sure that you are getting the maximum back you can.

    The rest is messier because your post suggests you may already have made a voluntary change - BA would regard this as a one-off on a non-flexible ticket.
    NWIFlyer is offline  
    Old Sep 15, 17, 6:54 am
      #4  
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    Let me welcome you to Flyertalk DrFlyerT, and welcome you to the BA forum. It's good to see you here, and I very much hope that you will continue to be active in this forum. In particular I draw your attention to the main EC261 thread in the dashboard, which gives more information.

    The issue of downgrade reimbursement gets complicated, and there isn't a totally waterproof answer that I can give. I suspect, given all the rebooking on your ticket you're now not in a very good position.

    If there is an equipment change where First gets taken away, BA treats this as a cancellation - the First service isn't there to give you, so your are entitled to the remediation available in that situation, which consists of just two option: reimbursement or "re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at a later date at the passenger's convenience, subject to availability of seats". Now that allows for you to rebook in First at a later date to GIG, but I suspect that doesn't greatly help. If 2 weeks notice is given, there is no compensation, or reimbursement for downgrade, assuming we follow the cancellation procedures

    Now there is an argument, which has been played before in BA FT (historic EC261 threads), that if you end up in CW to GIG then this is a really a downgrade rather than a cancellation, and therefore the downgrade reimbursement applies. You would have to take that matter to court or CEDR (see main thread) since BA won't be agreeing to this argument and I am aware of cases where BA have won that argument in court. However Small Claims cases do not necessarily set precedent.

    The further complication here seems to be that you have now agreed to a set of rebooking arrangements, and under another aspect of EC261, you may not get very far since your rebooked tickets(s) would be in CW, not First, and this being something that you agreed to do. Once you have agreed to be reticketed to another cabin, you weaken your EC261 arguments accordingly.

    In practical terms, it may be easiest to either ask for a full refund (which BA may now have an argument to refuse) or try to get both of you into CW and argue for a refund of your fare difference from the cheapest First to the cheapest CW available at the time of your booking. This refund may take some time to calculate and you may need to do the necessary research to find out what it ought to be, to ensure you get the correct amount back.
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    corporate-wage-slave is offline  
    Old Sep 15, 17, 8:14 am
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    Originally Posted by DrFlyerT View Post
    I called BA who informed zero compensation payable as I booked the cheapest F class and fare they had provided ‘comparable transport conditions’ J on Club World– all of which I naively took as being kosher.[/list]
    Did you ask them where in all their marketing materials it tells you not to bother with F class as J is just as good?
    Swissroll is offline  
    Old Sep 15, 17, 8:54 am
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    Oh my. In my head , I live in a world where a cash-paying first class customer is someone I go out of my way to make happy again if my own company makes decisions that screw them around. It should be a non-conversation, it should be second nature to fix this. Offer F on another date, F on another route to the same destination, or a refund to your ( second rate) CW cabin, or a full refund. Whatever it is, don't quibble. But FFS don't hide behind process and procedure on First class bookings when you've caused the problem to begin with. Or attempt to shame a customer by saying it was a "cheap" F ticket.

    BA isn't becoming Aldi or Costco. It's the Poundsaver of the skies.

    Last edited by NWIFlyer; Sep 15, 17 at 8:59 am Reason: Rule 16 - profanity hidden with full stops removed
    LostAntipod is offline  
    Old Sep 15, 17, 10:47 am
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    What irritates me a bit is the argument that J is regarded as ‘comparable transport conditions’ relative to F. I would ask the agent whether (1) this is the official position of BA and whether he/she would be happy to be quoted publicly and (2) whether I can self-upgrade in the future from J to F under the 'comparable transport conditions' logic!

    (I say this as a person who likes flying BA!)
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    Last edited by simpletastes; Sep 15, 17 at 11:02 am
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    Old Sep 15, 17, 11:01 am
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    I found myself in a very similar situation re disappearance of F on GIG flights.

    Here’s what happened. Easter this year, booked return flights for myself and the missus, LHR-GIG-LHR, leaving on the 26th Dec, returning on the 11pm flight on New Year’s day. Club World out, F back (since it was only about £300 more than CW). As we also tagged a hotel booking in, it became a BA Holidays flight, with the advantage of not having to stump up for the whole cash amount up front. This may or may not be relevant.

    Found out around June time about the change to 3-class. Looked into the EU-261 position. Took note of the fact that on MMB the flight was marked as “CANCELLED” with a new booking in J on a flight leaving 15 minutes earlier. Wondered if this might be a BA weasel policy to avoid saying it was a downgrade.
    On the other hand, also noted that booking was changed from A-class F to D-class J, meaning same number of Avios. 70 fewer TPs each, but it turns out these wouldn’t be boundary-changing for either of us.

    My view was that as an absolute minimum I’d want to be refunded the difference in fare for the one way F to J downgrade. I’d want the same number of Avios as on the original booking (already awarded), and not to lose out by the fewer TPs (but that was a non-issue in our case). Alternatively, a re-routing via GRU in F at no additional cost. If I got that, I’d be satisfied.

    Rang up BA (holidays, dunno if that made a difference). Once we’d got over their confusion (they didn’t seem to be aware of the change from 4-class to 3-class, and indeed it was only through MMB that I’d found out myself), no problem about refund of the difference. Rather embarrassed myself at one stage by making the schoolboy error of mixing dollars and sterling, but eventually got there. Agent was also willing to look at the option at rebooking in F from GRU, but flight timings meant that it would have either been an unsuitably early start for a GIG-GRU flight, or an extra night’s hotel and a departure a day later eating into precious UK time, so we never really explored that one fully. But I got the impression this was a valid option. Was also offered full refund, which wouldn’t really have worked.

    Result: well, a bit peed off about the downgrade, however BA want to call it, but in the end, not too unhappy about the result given the notice. One way of looking at it is since we’d originally planned to book CW, found a decent priced upgrade but then got knocked back, we’ve ended up back where we started but earning 5,600 more Avios each than if we’d booked I-class from the start.

    But that’s just me and my circumstances. I can well see how others, or indeed myself under different circumstances, might feel more aggrieved.
    andrelux is offline  
    Old Sep 15, 17, 11:09 am
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    I would argue that you have not exchanged like for like when you chose to be re-routed to GRU in F. I would rather sit in J on a direct flight (and spanking new 787!) than do the connection you have elected to accept on an old 772. Flying LHR to GIG (Rio) in F very nice. Flying LHR to GIG is J is also nice. Flying LHR to GRU (Sao Paulo) is very nice, but then hanging around in GRU for a connection to GIG (or SDU) on a LATAM single class service would completely eliminate all of the joie de vivre accumulated by the journey in the F cabin.
    BrianWBrazil is offline  
    Old Sep 15, 17, 11:14 am
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    Originally Posted by BrianWBrazil View Post
    I would argue that you have not exchanged like for like when you chose to be re-routed to GRU in F. I would rather sit in J on a direct flight (and spanking new 787!) than do the connection you have elected to accept on an old 772. Flying LHR to GIG (Rio) in F very nice. Flying LHR to GIG is J is also nice. Flying LHR to GRU (Sao Paulo) is very nice, but then hanging around in GRU for a connection to GIG (or SDU) on a LATAM single class service would completely eliminate all of the joie de vivre accumulated by the journey in the F cabin.
    This seems like a reasonable way to look at it. I think if the original poster decides on travelling J, BA should still refund the difference.
    simpletastes is offline  
    Old Sep 15, 17, 11:15 am
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    Originally Posted by andrelux View Post
    Rang up BA (holidays, dunno if that made a difference).
    I suspect it did make a difference. The consumer protection on package tours is somewhat higher than for flights alone, plus there have been many anecdotes over the years that BA Holidays is prepared to go the extra mile for its customers. I suspect the willingness to work with customers to an acceptable outcome goes a long way in these situations. I don't know if the OP here tried the YouFirst desk with this problem, if not it would be worth calling them to see if alternative options remain open.

    BrianWBrazil makes a good point too. It's not so much the cabin, surely, as the holiday and company? GRU is rarely going to feature on many people's list of favourite airports of all time.
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    corporate-wage-slave is offline  
    Old Sep 15, 17, 11:20 am
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    When the OP changed her / his own flight, it was with the belief that the sister's flight could also be changed. The second agent said that the change had been made in error. Surely BA should correct their error and put the flights back to where they were before any changes were made, and then give the options on the table for the OP?
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    HilFly is offline  
    Old Sep 15, 17, 11:38 am
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    Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
    If there is an equipment change where First gets taken away, BA treats this as a cancellation - the First service isn't there to give you, so your are entitled to the remediation available in that situation, which consists of just two option: reimbursement or "re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at a later date at the passenger's convenience, subject to availability of seats". Now that allows for you to rebook in First at a later date to GIG, but I suspect that doesn't greatly help. If 2 weeks notice is given, there is no compensation, or reimbursement for downgrade, assuming we follow the cancellation procedures

    Now there is an argument, which has been played before in BA FT (historic EC261 threads), that if you end up in CW to GIG then this is a really a downgrade rather than a cancellation, and therefore the downgrade reimbursement applies.
    What a strange way to phrase things, which, IMO, gives an unbelievably high and totally unwarranted degree of plausibility to a BA argument for which there is zero support in the wording of the Regulation.

    Your way of presenting things would seem to suggest that you accept that there can only be either a cancellation or a downgrade but not both so that, if there is a cancellation, this automatically rules out downgrade compensation. If this were so, it would make a complete nonsense of the Regulation and would result in an airline being at total liberty to downgrade anyone at no cost when rerouting them following a cancellation, whether that cancellation is months in advance or minutes before departure time.

    Even if one treats a change of equipment as a cancellation, this changes nothing to the fact that the passenger is being "placed by the airline in a class lower than that for which the ticket was purchased" and that, therefore, downgrade compensation is due under the terms of Article 10 of the Reg.
    NickB is offline  
    Old Sep 15, 17, 11:42 am
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    NickB - beautifully argued!
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    simpletastes is offline  
    Old Sep 15, 17, 11:44 am
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    Originally Posted by NickB View Post
    Even if one treats a change of equipment as a cancellation, this changes nothing to the fact that the passenger is being "placed by the airline in a class lower than that for which the ticket was purchased" and that, therefore, downgrade compensation is due under the terms of Article 10 of the Reg.
    Yes, it's good to highlight that, and I will add there is no wording in that article which implies any direct constraint on that clause (such as extraordinary circumstances or notice period, both of which exist on other issues). There is also the general preamble of EC261, which talks about protecting pasengers' interests rather than the arlines' interests. There is a very substantial discussion about this in the archived thread on this issue.
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