Refused Downgrade - What are my rights?

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Old Feb 14, 19, 1:44 am
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Originally Posted by arh1 View Post
It shouldn't but based in this forum, anecdotally, it does seem to make a difference for downgrade targeting etc.
Not just for targeting, more so for compensation.

OP - where you the cardholder or the companion on the 241, or were both of you downgraded. The cardholder wouldn't come out very well on a downgrade (75% back on 62.5k is net 16k, virtually the same as the Y redemption), but the companion tneds to get only some taxes/fees back from BA. They won't willingly give any credit for the voucher you've now got much less value from, though I think some have pushed harder though MCOL/CEDR.

All in all, being on a 241 makes arguing for the next available flight even better an option.
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Old Feb 14, 19, 2:58 am
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Originally Posted by p17blo View Post
I get that this happens, but my real beef is that I saw no sign of BA asking people in the first 4 rows of Club if they were willing to fly the next day or take a downgrade and I believe they should have done so. I also don't quite understand the difference between being bumped off an aircraft due to aircraft change and being 'offered' a downgrade and refusing it, hence being bumped off. The EU charter is also quite clear where compensation doesn't get paid (weather, industrial action), but there is a gaping whole of detail around refusing a downgrade - It just isn't included (rather than excluded)
Actually, I think that the three statements here are related: you think that BA should have asked for volunteers and also believe that there is a gaping hole around how refusing a downgrade is treated because you don't see/believe there should be a difference between being denied boarding or victim of a flight cancellation on the one hand and being involuntarily downgraded on the other hand, but the point is that from the point of view of the legislator, there is... You may think that there shouldn't, but they thought that there should be.

In fact, I think that any of us - including yourself - would agree that in principle at least, there is a significant difference between arriving as planned after a much less comfortable journey and being stranded somewhere. It doesn't mean that either is pleasant, but the regulation puts the two inconveniences on very different levels even though it seeks to protect customers in both cases. So in that sense, in case of downgrade, the regulation allows the airlines to select who should and should not be affected (they can of course seek volunteers but they are not obliged to) but the people who are downgraded are to be paid a fixed payment based on length of the flight (and as pointed earlier, regardless of the nature of the upgrade so in my view, that is the odder bit: being downgraded from F to J is not quite the same as from F to Y but I can see how it is hard to micro manage).

Note that the payment is not deemed a compensation, and that the legislator, in all likelihood, did not address the issue of a "refused downgrade" because they did not consider that they had to legislate on it: if the airline downgrades you against your will, they owe you a specific amount of money determined by the calculation because the airline is more powerful than the customer and therefore the legislator intervenes to protect the interest of the customer. By contrast, if the customer decides to negotiate an alternative with the airline (such as another flight in the original or a higher class, a new routing, etc) that becomes a voluntary/contractual agreement between two parties that is not regulated so the conditions end up being determined by you and the airline. You can say: "would you put me on the next flight with J but then pay for my hotel and my cancelled taxi" and the airline can say yes or no but that is not a right, in fact, even letting you change your flight is not an automatic right.

Originally Posted by p17blo View Post
WRT to the taxi, I'm surprised BA aren't covering this - I called my driver with less than 12 hours notice - He did try to accommodate me but was booked elsewhere and as an independant driver, had turned down work for the time he was supposed to collect me had the flight been on time so I'm not surprised this was non refundable. Given the level of my claim to BA so far (around 350 in costs plus the taxi costs) i'm a little miffed they won't cover this especially given the levels of 'goodwill' compensation handed out at check in for those who accepted the downgrade ($520 per couple) plus the charter refund due. Yes I have really comprehensive insurance and could (and will) claim if I don't get anywhere with BA, but come on, they messed this up and their lack of compassion, even if not legally compelled to do so, seems poor in my mind. However. My questions was about rights and the answers are in line with what I expected, so I'll chalk it up to poor customer service and vote with my wallet next time I don't have a ton of miles and 241 vouchers to use.


The amount you mention in question is not actually negligible by BA standards. Even in cases where it has to provide accommodation, BA puts a reimbursement limit to 200 for the room (wrongly in my view, I mean it is fair when there is choice but I think that when nothing is available at that price near the airport, which happens they are wrong to put a pre-set limit) so here you are getting 150 over it for food and drink in a context where the airline was not obliged to pay for any of those things. Like other airlines, they are also very reluctant to pay taxi fares, even if they delay/reroute you, they will typically insist on bussing you which is really annoying, so you can imagine that here that it is not necessary, they won't be any more accommodating. It is also not clear if you asked for reimbursement of the new taxi or the one that had to be paid despite being used. In my experience, most insurance companies for instance will never pay you for services that ended up being paid for nothing. They will only pay additional expenses that result from travel incidents (ie the new taxi). So if you asked about the one that couldn't be cancelled, I suspect that this would never be considered really.

Final point, as always, you're almost always better off claiming on your travel insurance rather than the airline. They will typically be more generous than the airline and they will turn to the airline anyway to pass on the costs of anything the airline was to pay anyway.
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Old Feb 14, 19, 10:52 pm
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
The amount you mention in question is not actually negligible by BA standards. Even in cases where it has to provide accommodation, BA puts a reimbursement limit to 200 for the room (wrongly in my view, I mean it is fair when there is choice but I think that when nothing is available at that price near the airport, which happens they are wrong to put a pre-set limit) so here you are getting 150 over it for food and drink in a context where the airline was not obliged to pay for any of those things. Like other airlines, they are also very reluctant to pay taxi fares, even if they delay/reroute you, they will typically insist on bussing you which is really annoying, so you can imagine that here that it is not necessary, they won't be any more accommodating. It is also not clear if you asked for reimbursement of the new taxi or the one that had to be paid despite being used. In my experience, most insurance companies for instance will never pay you for services that ended up being paid for nothing. They will only pay additional expenses that result from travel incidents (ie the new taxi). So if you asked about the one that couldn't be cancelled, I suspect that this would never be considered really.

Final point, as always, you're almost always better off claiming on your travel insurance rather than the airline. They will typically be more generous than the airline and they will turn to the airline anyway to pass on the costs of anything the airline was to pay anyway.
Just to clarify, my hotel claim was a few pounds over 200 (208 I think) and the covered transport costs in the US as I had to switch airport from Tampa to Orlando - My food claim was about 45 from memory (for 2 people) - Before I booked anything I did check to see what was considered 'reasonable' and actually really struggled to get a hotel (rather than a motel) for the claim limit (again bear in mind I had to organise this all at short notice whilst trying to find transport at both ends etc etc) - So as I mention, there has been no consideration for the inconvenience.

I've spoken today to other people who took the downgrade who have now been received around 650 in compensation and $520 in goodwill. So because they put me into 2 available seats on the following day, which were otherwise going empty, the difference is significant and noticiably more generous in goodwill for downgrade. I'm also waiting a response to my email to a couple of other people who also refused the downgrade to see how they faired.

My comparison about legilative cover was between being bumped off a flight and being bumped off a flight after refusing a downgrade (not, as you mentioned between being downgraded and being bumped) - The end result is the same (being bumped), the difference is the so called choice and refusal of the downgrade.

Incidentally, as a result of my perception over the customer service handling, i've today cancelled 2 return Club World flights to SFO and rebooked them with VS.
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Old Feb 14, 19, 11:33 pm
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My understanding is that BA are correct under EC261. Downgrade provisions apply to those who are actually downgraded, and by volunteering to travel later the OP was not downgraded.

So whatever was agreed was a voluntary settlement between passenger and airline which covers whatever was discussed/agreed.

Years ago airlines ascribed some value to doing the right thing, these days even as a premium traveller you are just a number on a sheet and when things go wrong the airline priority is to minimise costs.

Of course there is no reason why the OP could not take a case against BA through MCOL for any losses. Whether it is worth the hassle is another thing and I would say the OP should just settle for finding another airline.
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Old Feb 15, 19, 1:54 am
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Originally Posted by bisonrav View Post
For what it's worth, I'd have accepted the downgrade. It's not a long flight. But ymmv
For someone like me who travels rarely, when I book a CW or any form of business class, I'm excited from the planning stage looking forward to the flight itself. I know this comes across odd to frequent flyers, but the idea of being downgraded from a CW seat and experience (no matter how badly the product is delivered on the day), would be devastating regardless of how short the international flight is. I would be gutted and extremely upset. Like the OP I would rather take another flight than be downgraded and ruin my planned experience. Just a quick glimpse into the mind of an infrequent flyer who dreams of a flat bed on a flight.
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Old Feb 15, 19, 1:58 am
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By all means, try and get your taxi cost reimbursed but I also believe you will only get a few avios. It may show a lack of goodwill but BA could have got you back on the intended flight, with statutory compensation, to take your taxi. You negotiated something different, as is your right, but unless that settlement included the taxi loss there is no part of EU261 that will give it to you now.

Others' reimbursement is based on their fare paid, so is not relevant to you; doubly so since you didn't accept the downgrade. And you weren't bumped (denied boarding).
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Old Feb 15, 19, 2:29 am
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Originally Posted by p17blo View Post

I've spoken today to other people who took the downgrade who have now been received around 650 in compensation and $520 in goodwill. So because they put me into 2 available seats on the following day, which were otherwise going empty, the difference is significant and noticiably more generous in goodwill for downgrade.
I understand from the general tenor of your posts in this thread that you feel aggrieved at what happened to you, and I sympathise insofar as I would hate being threatened with a downgrade too, but I really don't understand your point here. Are you really moaning because BA didn't pay you the same compensation that those who were downgraded got? Surely the point is they were downgraded and you were not!
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Old Feb 15, 19, 5:08 am
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Originally Posted by CCayley View Post
I understand from the general tenor of your posts in this thread that you feel aggrieved at what happened to you, and I sympathise insofar as I would hate being thoriginreatened with a downgrade too, but I really don't understand your point here. Are you really moaning because BA didn't pay you the same compensation that those who were downgraded got? Surely the point is they were downgraded and you were not!
I would also feel aggrieved if I found out when trying to check-in for my flight at the airport that due to an aircraft sub, my only options were to fly in a lower cabin or to fly 24 hours later from an airport 100 miles away. I would expect that the rules would be such that I would be compensated for the mistake made by the airline.
If the original flight was that late, I would get compensation. If I was downgraded on my original flight I would get compensation. The OP is expecting that a delay of 24 hours in order to fly as booked should get something. Apparently, EU261 does not agree but simply posing the question to try toi understand the situation is not "moaning" and I find the argument that it was somehow a "voluntary" delay spurious at best.
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Old Feb 15, 19, 6:32 am
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Originally Posted by p17blo View Post
I've spoken today to other people who took the downgrade who have now been received around 650 in compensation and $520 in goodwill. So because they put me into 2 available seats on the following day, which were otherwise going empty, the difference is significant and noticiably more generous in goodwill for downgrade. I'm also waiting a response to my email to a couple of other people who also refused the downgrade to see how they faired.
Actually, the people who accepted the downgrade benefited from goodwill because they forcibly travelled in less comfortable conditions. In your case, your goodwill included the money as well as being put on that alternative flight, both are goodwill because BA did not have to do either. I am not saying that it is right or wrong, but I think that as long as you think that being put on that other flight was being wronged you are looking at your situation differently from what the airline or for that matter any judge would see.

As for knowing that your seat on that new flight, how could you possibly know that? The people who were downgraded were on seats that would have been empty. We know that because the flight booking was closed by the time people's downgrades are effective. In fact, your seat will have likely gone empty too. But the one the next day? Many seats are sold in those last 24 hours, many people change their ticket in the last 24 hours (typically spending significant money to do that). Unless your new flight was mostly empty in J and there were tons of empty seats in which case I agree with you, you have no way of knowing whether BA accommodating you then filled an empty seat or deprived them of one or several super lucrative full J fares.


Originally Posted by p17blo View Post
My comparison about legilative cover was between being bumped off a flight and being bumped off a flight after refusing a downgrade (not, as you mentioned between being downgraded and being bumped) - The end result is the same (being bumped), the difference is the so called choice and refusal of the downgrade.


But that's the thing. You were not bumped off. The entire premise is wrong here. You had a seat on that plane, just not on your original cabin. As it happens, it does occur that sometime some people do get bumped off and downgraded: e.g. you are booked on KUL-LHR on 17/2 in J, your plane is overbooked, you are told you will not be able to fly on that day but only on 18/2 AND on top of it there are no J seats on that flight so not only will you be travelling a day late but it will be in Y.

That is, however, not what happened in your case. You the airline offered a downgraded seat on your original flight, you said you preferred to fly on the next available flight where you could be accommodated in your original cabin, the airline said ok. That is not being bumped off.

Originally Posted by p17blo View Post
Incidentally, as a result of my perception over the customer service handling, i've today cancelled 2 return Club World flights to SFO and rebooked them with VS.


Totally fair, I may well have done the same, though for the record, chances are that in the same situation may well have given you the same or less than BA.
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Old Feb 15, 19, 6:37 am
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Since this happened in the US, I wonder if the DOT might be of help here. Apart from EU261, DOT regulations would apply on downgrades and bumps and the requirement to ask for volunteers before bumping or downgrading anybody. I have just this week been offered $1000 by UA to reschedule a booked flight in domestic F to 6 hours later, or to travel in Y on the booked aircraft.
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Old Feb 15, 19, 7:04 am
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Indeed the USA rules should apply too, although one obviously cannot claim compensation/reimbursement under both sets of regulations.

IIRC there was a thread about a year ago in the BA forum here on FT about a handicapped woman who was traveling from Caklifornia back to London and was downgraded from FC (which she claimed was needed due to health conditions), I think due to an aircraft change, and had to travel several days later, possibly from a different airport. It might be helpful for the OP to find and read that thread.
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Old Feb 15, 19, 8:08 am
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I find it a bit surprising that there's so little customer protection here - a delay which (depending on the facts) may be a far small nuisance than having to fly 12h in Y instead of F, gives you decent compensation. I can't help but think that legislators at the time of drafting these provisions had thought that 75% should be decent compensation and failed to foresee how airlines will be trying to push the envelope when calculating the 75% figure (I've seen at least one report in another thread where someone bought a relatively cheap J fare in a promo months in advance and the airline tried to insist on using a fully-flexible walk-up Y fare for the purposes of the 75% calculation).
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Old Feb 15, 19, 8:23 am
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The regulation (EU261) is quite clear that it applies to the fare you actually paid not the fare difference between the cabins so there is no gaming of the fare buckets.

No doubt on some calculations on the fare bucket basis some people could theoretically owe the airline money if the amount they paid for their J ticket was less that a full fat Y fare!
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Old Feb 15, 19, 10:00 am
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Originally Posted by Tafflyer View Post
Since this happened in the US, I wonder if the DOT might be of help here. Apart from EU261, DOT regulations would apply on downgrades and bumps and the requirement to ask for volunteers before bumping or downgrading anybody. I have just this week been offered $1000 by UA to reschedule a booked flight in domestic F to 6 hours later, or to travel in Y on the booked aircraft.
This is wrong.

US law does not require the carrier to solicit volunteers for downgrades. This is made clear in the DOT rule at 15 CFR 250.2b. The volunteer requirement applies only to oversales and denial of boarding. There is not even a peep about downgrades. Furthermore, the "volunteer" requirement does not affect the passenger but would rather be a reason for DOT to pursue the carrier if it wished, which it won't.
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Old Feb 15, 19, 10:08 am
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EC 261/2004 is binary. It provides for a refund but no compensation in the case of a downgrade. In the case of a cancellation or delay it provides for compensation and a duty of care as well as certain rebooking rights. These will not always be absolutely fair, but they are the law.

Perhaps a 75% refund in the case of a downgrade ought to be 80% or perhaps it ought to be 70%. Perhaps the delay ought to be EUR 700 or perhaps EUR 500. But, it is not. Similarly, while delays are subject to an exclusion for an "extraordinary circumstance," downrades are not. Perhaps that is unfair.

Bottom line is that OP would not likely have been treated differently on any carrier taking into account the possibility that a carrier might well do something more for a true HVC than for another.
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