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New member. Downgrade, fight with BA - what should I do?

New member. Downgrade, fight with BA - what should I do?

Old Oct 15, 17, 9:38 am
  #1  
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New member. Downgrade, fight with BA - what should I do?

Hi all,

I come here seeking advice and guidance. Hopefully I'm posting in the correct place, and hopefully I'm not going against any forum etiquette by outlining my issue.

The issue, in a nutshell, is that on May 7th my class of travel was downgraded from Premium to Standard Economy on a long-haul flight - and I'm frustrated with the dealings I've have with BA and BAEC. I've been through CEDR and to be honest I still feel that BA have in some way "gotten away with it" hence would value the opinion of users here.

The circumstances are as follows... While I'll know for next time to book direct, back then I booked with Expedia who sold me an Iberia ticket on a BA flight from Heathrow to Phoenix. The downgrade happened on outbound leg, which departed on a Sunday. I paid Expedia 2,598.57 (including taxes and credit card surcharge). I contacted BA in first instance, who said to contact Expedia, who suggested BA or Iberia etc. - after many weeks of going round the houses I ended up having to take BA to CEDR. I claimed for 75% of half the overall price I paid to Expedia - I claimed for a little under 1000 under EC 261/2004. BA defended by saying that the sector cost was 615, so BA only need to reimburse 75% of this 615.

This is first time I've had to make any sort of claim, so perhaps didn't prepare my CEDR case very well; but I feel that 75% of 615 (=461.25) barely (if even) covers difference in fare between Economy & Premium even after taxes are taken out. I feel that BA have "gotten away with it" - and while the money is clearly important (this is a lot of money to me!) I also feel that I've not been treated fairly. And the bit about not being treated fairly is the bit that makes me want to dig my heels in and keep fighting this.

I'd appreciate FT user views on this: has BA acted reasonably, and/or should I just get over it and accept this? Or should I consider rejecting CEDR's decision and then taking BA to court over this?

Important point to note is that I have no hard evidence of how much each leg cost - remember that the flight was on May 7th, and I booked some weeks before that flight (and the Expedia receipt is not itemised to show outbound and inbound cost). All I can say is that I remember at time of booking being surprised (but accepting) that Premium cost was substantially more if in fact almost double the Economy ticket price. I don't know if it's possible to prove this in any way - if there is some way I can find out the actual price Expedia would have charged, that would be helpful. However without knowing how much my outbound cost vs. my inbound, all I have is the headline price I paid to Expedia (which shows taxes and credit card fee along with flights - but no other detail).

I flew out on a Sunday afternoon, and flew back on a Friday night. But even with this in mind, the outbound leg @ 615 (even after taking of some high number for taxes) seems surprisingly cheap, when overall ticket price (minus taxes) is considered. Even accounting for taxes (which CEDR say cannot be factored into the claim) then it still seems that BA have gotten off quite lightly out of this.

Ultimately I feel that BA have somehow gotten off the hook - it's felt like a fight since the start, and while it doesn't feel like I've lost the battle it certainly doesn't feel like much of a victory; I can't be sure, though it seems possible that if I accept 465.25 then I'd actually end up out of pocket and actually *paying* for the privilege of being downgraded. But - if the knowledge and experience of the userbase here says that I need to man up and put it behind me, then so be it. I'm wondering, however, whether I should take this to small claims (e.g. claim for 75% of half total price paid minus taxes and credit card fee - this would be 75% of half of 2,108 and would be 790.50, which is a far cry form the 461-odd that BA offered and that CEDR approved).

Again - the money certainly is important; but that is *NOT* my main motivation. After so long fighting this, the money is genuinely a secondary concern - my primary concern is that I feel that BA haven't played fair, and I've been screwed over.

Am I being unreasonable?

Opinions welcomed as to:
(a) whether it's possible to find out - after so long - how much the outbound leg cost and whether I'd actually be out of pocket if I accept the 416-odd;
and/or
(b) whether I should reject CEDR decision and take it to small claims but perhaps present my case more clearly (rather than just firing off the Expedia headline price and not considering taxes etc).

Sorry for such a long post. Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for any advice.
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Old Oct 15, 17, 10:16 am
  #2  
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Welcome to FT, gutt3d!
Originally Posted by gutt3d View Post
I paid Expedia 2,598.57 (including taxes and credit card surcharge).
Did you fly LHR-PHX non-stop and PHX-LHR non-stop? And was the original ticket for premium economy in both directions? I can't get anything close to that fare (using today's prices) for premium economy both ways, but I can get a bit closer by pricing premium economy one way and economy the other.
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Old Oct 15, 17, 10:36 am
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No idea if it does (someone will tell us ), but the "BA Receipt Request" might be able to give a break down: https://www.britishairways.com/trave...stomer_receipt.

Additionally, if you claimed Avios / Tier Points for Executive Club (and some other FFP), the award should show the cabin / fare basis that you travelled on (although it doesn't always seem to show what I expect it to...), and the letters (Y, N, Q, etc) may help with reconstructing the fare that you flew on, and hence (current) pricing. Even without exact pricing it'll help show whether you were on a low-cost WT+ combined with a high-cost regular WT or not.
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Old Oct 15, 17, 10:52 am
  #4  
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OP - Under EC 261/2004, you are due a refund of 75% of the cost, exclusive of taxes, for the segment on which you were downgraded. You claimed for 75% of the entire ticket and BA therefore properly denied your claim and CEDR largely followed suit. As the operating carrier, your refund is due from BA. BA may sort things with Expedia and IB, but that is not your concern.

In order to determine whether the amount is correct, you will need to look at your e-ticket receipt or you may call BA with your e-ticket number (not your PNR, but e-ticket number). In the receipt, somewhere there should be a line full of letters and numbers which looks like gibberish, but somewhere it will say LHR-PHX/XXXXX yyy.yy. The
yyy.yy is the base fare for the segment and 75% of that number is the refund you are due.

You cannot extrapolate anything from the total fare as that may have different fare bases between the downgraded outbound and the return and because there are substantial taxes on a ticket departing LHR.

If you happened to fly to PHX with a connection or stopover enroute, the segment fare would be even less.

Suffice it to say that a segment fare of GBP 615 with a refund of 75% of that is not odd and might be entirely correct.

If it is correct, why on earth would you pursue this matter through MCOL. If it is correct, I would take one shot at providing the corrected calculation to BA in the form of the required letter before action, and then start the MCOL proceedings.

Facts are critical here.
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Old Oct 15, 17, 10:53 am
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I would contact Expedia and ask them for a breakdown on the fare. They should have it and if not, someone, BA or Expedia should be able to work it out using their historical fares records. Old paper tickets always showed how the fare was broken down. It seems we've lost this information since the introduction of e-tickets. However, the info is available somewhere.
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Old Oct 15, 17, 10:59 am
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
OP - Under EC 261/2004, you are due a refund of 75% of the cost, exclusive of taxes, for the segment on which you were downgraded. You claimed for 75% of the entire ticket and BA therefore properly denied your claim and CEDR largely followed suit. As the operating carrier, your refund is due from BA. BA may sort things with Expedia and IB, but that is not your concern.

In order to determine whether the amount is correct, you will need to look at your e-ticket receipt or you may call BA with your e-ticket number (not your PNR, but e-ticket number). In the receipt, somewhere there should be a line full of letters and numbers which looks like gibberish, but somewhere it will say LHR-PHX/XXXXX yyy.yy. The
yyy.yy is the base fare for the segment and 75% of that number is the refund you are due.

You cannot extrapolate anything from the total fare as that may have different fare bases between the downgraded outbound and the return and because there are substantial taxes on a ticket departing LHR.

If you happened to fly to PHX with a connection or stopover enroute, the segment fare would be even less.

Suffice it to say that a segment fare of GBP 615 with a refund of 75% of that is not odd and might be entirely correct.

If it is correct, why on earth would you pursue this matter through MCOL. If it is correct, I would take one shot at providing the corrected calculation to BA in the form of the required letter before action, and then start the MCOL proceedings.

Facts are critical here.
OP claimed for 75% of HALF of the ticket price, not 75% of the RT price.
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Old Oct 15, 17, 11:03 am
  #7  
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Let me add my welcome to you gutt3d for joining Flyertalk, and welcome to the BA forum in particular. It's good to see you here, less good to see the circumstances behind it.

There is a specific thread on EC261 in the Dashboard, and a lot of information in there about downgrades, including a post which explains how to calculate the downgrade reimbursement. It's an annual thread so it gets rather long by this time of the year, but there aren't so many downgrade cases in it.

Now you most certainly can go to MCOL, but the requirement to have a very clear and correct understanding of what is due to you is even more important, since as you have already experienced this could lead to disappointment. At MCOL level, attention to detail is very important and I would only go into MCOL if I knew for certain my facts and details were pretty robust.

Now I'm a bit constrained about what specific advice I can give since your post, detailed though it was in some areas, doesn't give the exact pieces of information which would allow me to say if you were done over or not. Booking via Expedia is an added impediment as you note. What we would need to know is the precise fare, ideally the fare basis, the taxes, the carrier fees, the date of ticket purchase, the date of travel (both directions probably). Of these, the most important by fare are the base fare, taxes, fees and final payment total, plus any specific factors not already mentioned, such as the routing or differentiated travel classes en route, number of passengers and so on.

What I can say is that it is well within the realms of possibility that 461 is correct. Indeed with Dual Inventory Fares there could be little or no refund due (which may not apply here, but probably needs a senior court to review the issue of reimbursement, it's a very thorny area).

One specific thing to check incidentally is on the Expedia side. You probably can't avoid calling Expedia to have a detailed chat about the booking to get the relevant information. It is important to make a contemporary note of the conversation, giving names, times and dates. But what I have seen in another case via PM is that BA don't necessarily have good visibility on agency fares, these tickets pass via multiple intermediaries and so they can end up unsure what you've actually paid. Hence all the more reason to find out the facts as much as you can.

Some things for you to research, maybe when you have more details, and if you need more assistance, feel free to post in the main EC261 thread (with a link to this thread), and someone will surely be along to assist further.
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Old Oct 15, 17, 11:04 am
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Should gutt3d not also be due the difference in taxes (at least 75 in APD)?
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Old Oct 15, 17, 11:11 am
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One point worth mentioning. As the downgrade occurred on the outbound flight from London, you should also be entitled to a 75.00 refund on the UK Air Passenger Duty originally paid* - you should not have to pay the full standard rate when you were seated in Economy class.

* Check your eTicket receipt. If the UK tax was levied at 75.00 then it is possible Expedia miscalculated the fare and inadvertently booked you in economy. If the UK tax was 150.00, then your booking was kosher.
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Old Oct 15, 17, 11:21 am
  #10  
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OP should also pay attention to which taxes and fees are government imposed and which are carrier imposed.

Also, if the OLTA (Expedia?) charged some sort of ticketing or service fee, that should be excluded from the price paid for the purpose of EC261 compensation.
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Old Oct 15, 17, 1:17 pm
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
There is a specific thread on EC261 in the Dashboard, and a lot of information in there about downgrades, including a post which explains how to calculate the downgrade reimbursement. It's an annual thread so it gets rather long by this time of the year, but there aren't so many downgrade cases in it.
Thanks for the info - I'll check it out. If I should stop replying here, and should instead head over to the Dashboard, let me know. I'll reply to the comments here first, but will stop posting here if I'm in the wrong place...

@Globaliser - this was a non-stop flight from LHR to PHX, and was indeed Premium in both directions. I've made the trip several times and found that the Premium cabin is pretty small - this was probably my 3rd trip, so by then I'd wised up and book early (several weeks before I wanted to travel) and managed to get a seat in Premium both ways. Well - I managed to book a Premium seat both ways, anyway. FWIW, this was my first ever booking in a Premium cabin and I have to say that I didn't think it was worth the extra: on the outbound journey (when I was downgraded) Premium would have been ok as I didn't plan to sleep. On the inbound journey I found it more difficult to sleep as I couldn't lean up against a window/bulkhead due to gap between window seat and window. But yes, this was for a round-trip in Premium both ways, booked some weeks (at least 3, maybe 4) prior to travel.

@EsherFlyer - this is a weird one... While I can still see evidence of the journey in my Avios and tier points in BAEC, the journey in question has actually been removed from my BAEC landing page - I can't find it anywhere. This was removed many months ago. It struck me as odd (and wondered if BA were trying to make my life more difficult, after I started chasing them on this and mentioning EC 261/2004 back in May some time) but since I still have the boarding pass I wasn't too concerned that it was removed. I can still see flights from last year - its only this particular one (and only the outbound leg) which I can't see. Whatever the reason for it, the upshot is that I can't get any info on the flight from my BAEC page. I'll check out the other link you provided though - thanks.

@Often1 - I don't have an e-ticket receipt. All I have is the email from Expedia which says "this email can be used as an e-ticket". As you say though, if it is indeed correct that the sector fare was 615 then I wouldn't take it to MCOL. With the best will in the world, however, my faith in BA has taken a bit of a knock hence why it'd be good to get more evidence of what the sector fare is. So far, all I've got is BA telling me so - and after many months of misinformation from BA before I ended up going to CEDR, I'm unsure about taking what BA says at face value. "Misinformation" is tings like BA telling me that it's nothing to to with them, because Expedia took my money; or BA telling me that it's on Iberia paper so Iberia will need to sort it; or ground staff telling me at the gate that I was entitled to "75% of the difference in fare between Economy and Premium"; etc.

@MichaelBaku - I'll give Expedia another call, and see if they can give me anything more. Thanks.

@corporate-wage-slave - yes, one of the reasons BA gave me that they couldn't help me was because they had no visibility on agency fares. As above, if 461 is actually genuine then I'll stop. It feels like a bit of a stitch-up, but that's maybe because I've been fighting it for long enough that I've come to expect to be stitched up by BA It's a bad place to be! I've no qualms about speaking to Expedia - in all fairness to them, they tried to help (or at least gave that impression) but it seemed they were subject to same pillar-to-post treatment as me - BA sent them to Iberia, Iberia sent them to BA. So yep - I'll drop them a line. I started taking notes very early on, and have a comical timeline of who I spoke to, at what time, and what they said. It makes for interesting reading. I only wish I'd taken screenshots (or whatever) of the comms I'd sent to BA via the online complaints portal (not that it matters much now, I guess).

@hypercrypt and @Prospero - I got 75 "compensation" from BA. This was initially offered at the gate, and I declined as I thought they were trying to get me to accept 75 and forfeit any claim. I subsequently got the 75 "ex gratis" payment paid out (along with the fee I paid to reserve a seat). I was given to understand that the 75 was a kind of "goodwill gesture" from BA - but might this have been a refund of the APD? If *NOT* (i.e. if APD refund is still due) then I will follow that up - thanks.

@MSPeconomist - agreed that Expedia will likely have added to the cost f the ticket. I must confess that my initial understanding of EC 261/2004 was that it was punitive on the carrier and was for "total ticket price paid" (including taxes, credit card fees, travel agent fees, etc.) I thought it was to deter airlines from overbooking, or something. I now realise I was mistaken, and that taxes and credit card fees are not included in the calc - and that any booking fee would also be deducted.

Here's the info I've got on the return journey from my BAEC page (inbound only - outbound is no longer listed):
'26-May-17 29-May-17 PHOENIX - LONDON HEATHROW (W/W)
BA288(Booking ref: ••••••) 90 5,256
Cabin Bonus 0 2,628
'

Expedia receipt (and currently the only breakdown I have) is:
'Traveller 1: Adult 2,578.57
Flight 2,108.00
Taxes & Airline Fees 470.57
Airline Card Fee 20.00
'

I worry that I'm coming across as some sort of gold digger. I hope that's not the case, but I'll reiterate that while the money is important (because to me this genuinely is a lot of money) I'm not all about the refund. I'm chasing only what I'm legally entitled to - and if that's 461, then so be it. But more than the money, the whole thing leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouth and it feels like BA have somehow got off lightly. If they haven't, and if this is all sounding about right, then I'll man up and get on with my life. If they HAVE gotten off lightly, though - then that's just as important to me as any refund and I'd continue the fight by letter before action, and then MCOL if necessary.

I wanted to respond in this thread to acknowledge everyone who's been kind enough to reply already. I think maybe I should post in the 261 thread now though, so will start something up there. I'll still be very keen to read your responses in his thread (even if I don't respond in this thread now), and am grateful again for your collective wisdom!

Last edited by Prospero; Oct 15, 17 at 2:12 pm Reason: Added inbound flight info and RT total cost [mod edited to hide PNR]
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Old Oct 15, 17, 1:28 pm
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You should try to get the money that BA owes you. There's absolutely nothing wrong with trying to verify their number. To me, it seems suspiciously low for a nonstop RT with what I assume would have been a discount (or deep discount) RT advanced purchase fare in premium economy in both directions. OTOH, there are reports/suspicions that BA picks its victims to downgrade based on who will cost them the least in compensation.

If you can see information on the other direction of your RT on the BA website, it might be helpful to post that here. Someone might be able to take your total ticket price for your RT and the fare and fare code for the other direction and be able to reverse engineer the details for your ticket in the direction of the downgrade. For example, EF has some historical fares as part of its subscription website, although of course that requires not only your travel dates and flight numbers but also the date of ticket purchase.

ADDED: Could your OLTA have sold you a bulk or consolidator ticket?
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Last edited by MSPeconomist; Oct 15, 17 at 1:40 pm
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Old Oct 15, 17, 1:34 pm
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I think you're absolutely reasonable and correct. I've found BA to regularly act in bad faith in these scenarios with providing a misleadingly low number for reimbursement then fighting st every step. I highly recommend you go the MCOL route. It's an investment of your time but as you say it's the principle of BA stealing from you.
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Old Oct 15, 17, 2:08 pm
  #14  
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Originally Posted by gutt3d View Post
While I can still see evidence of the journey in my Avios and tier points in BAEC, the journey in question has actually been removed from my BAEC landing page - I can't find it anywhere.

...

Here's the info I've got on the return journey from my BAEC page (inbound only - outbound is no longer listed):
'26-May-17 29-May-17 PHOENIX - LONDON HEATHROW (W/W)
BA288(Booking ref: ROYHF6) 90 5,256
Cabin Bonus 0 2,628
'

Expedia receipt (and currently the only breakdown I have) is:
'Traveller 1: Adult 2,578.57
Flight 2,108.00
Taxes & Airline Fees 470.57
Airline Card Fee 20.00
'
Using today's prices, that figure for taxes, fees and charges looks about right for WT+ outbound.

One thing to try to get the listing of the outbound flight in your BAEC account is to go to this page - https://www.britishairways.com/trave..._gb?eId=172705 - and either search for 20 transactions of flights only, or specify a date range that covers the date of your outbound travel.

When you say you can see evidence of the outbound journey in your Avios and TPs, are you sure that they weren't reduced when the flight in question was removed from the BAEC welcome page?

Going back to the fare, though: for your travel dates, the lowest published W class fare if purchased during the February-mid April 2017 period looks (on dip samples) to have been stable at 2,986 (plus TFC). However, you only paid 2,108. One possibility is that Expedia sold you a negotiated fare in the outbound direction and a published fare in the inbound direction. The latter would have been 1,493. And that would imply that the outbound half was fared at 615 - the figure that BA quoted you.

However, it would seem odd to me (as a non-expert) if the Expedia fare was calculated like that. It's more likely to have simply been a negotiated fare of 2,108 round-trip (ie 1,054 attributable to each direction). Starting from that hypothesis, the 615 figure that BA used may simply have been arrived at by someone reverse-engineering your base fare from the published figure, as above ("he paid 2,108, and the inbound fare must have been 2,986 x 50%, so the outbound fare must have been 615"). And that possibility would make me keep on pushing, if I were in your shoes.

And, as others have said, you must be entitled to have the excess APD back as well.
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Last edited by Globaliser; Oct 15, 17 at 2:15 pm
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Old Oct 15, 17, 2:10 pm
  #15  
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Originally Posted by Globaliser View Post
Using today's prices, that figure for taxes, fees and charges looks about right for WT+ outbound.

One thing to try to get the listing of the outbound flight in your BAEC account is to go to this page - https://www.britishairways.com/trave..._gb?eId=172705 - and either search for 20 transactions of flights only, or specify a date range that covers the date of your outbound travel.

When you say you can see evidence of the outbound journey in your Avios and TPs, are you sure that they weren't reduced when the flight in question was removed from the BAEC welcome page?
I think the price is supposed to be a RT ticket in WT+ in each direction, using the nonstops.
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