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Class of Service Downgrade Due to Equipment Change on Paid Itinerary Question

Class of Service Downgrade Due to Equipment Change on Paid Itinerary Question

Old Oct 31, 17, 4:52 am
  #1  
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Class of Service Downgrade Due to Equipment Change on Paid Itinerary Question

I purchased a flight from EWR to BKK for December 2017 back in May 2017 on Cathay Pacific through an online travel agency in premium economy. My flight which is only a little over a month from now has just recently changed from a A350 to a 777W with the regional business class and coach. Cathay Pacific has decided to downgrade me from PE to coach since the route no longer offers PE.

What recourse do I have with Cathay Pacific since I expect they owe me some compensation since they downgraded to the HKG-BKK segment from PE to coach? I also realize that they rarely help customers who have booked with online TAs but was curious before I reach out to Cathay Pacific to see what in fact should be the minimum remedy I should expect. Part of the issue is that while they have booked me into Y instead of E I no longer earn the 50% EQM on AA for that segment.

As a OneWorld emerald I would have expected Cathay Pacific to upgrade me to business class since it is still available for the segment. I have never in the past seen an airline downgrade a customer when a higher class of service is available after an equipment change but obviously it does happen.
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Old Oct 31, 17, 5:00 am
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[Regional Equipment Swaps] would be a good start and answer most of your questions.
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Old Oct 31, 17, 5:06 am
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Originally Posted by Joe1690 View Post
As a OneWorld emerald I would have expected Cathay Pacific to upgrade me to business class since it is still available for the segment. I have never in the past seen an airline downgrade a customer when a higher class of service is available after an equipment change but obviously it does happen.
your AA status has nothing to do with it.

if CX does this to folks at last minute, they always stick you in J.

If they do it to folks well in advance, generally not. You're entitled to the fare difference, but my bet is there isn't one or it's extremely minute. If you had booked EWR-HKG-BKK on a mixed PEY and Y itinerary, I'd generally bet the pricing was identical. Which unfortunately doesn't bode well for you.

Also, I think you could make a reasonable case about cancelling the entire ticket if you want (EWR-HKG-BKK), even if there are change fees or cancellation fees involved. I think they would waive them if this change makes you want to cancel the whole itinerary. Or, if you can find another date / timing combo that works for you where PEY is available to BKK, they should let you change for free even if the ticket is one of the cheaper restrictive ones.

You are definitely entitled to a fare refund, if it applies. You should call and ask. However, one of the things they'll do I think is put you on one of the higher-fare Y buckets which may technically be even more expensive than the PEY fare you booked. Also, CX has some super specials out of the USA in E class which I'm aware of, where they effectively give you the add-on sectors intra-Asia for free. I've seen EWR-HKG-BKK J class price right in the ballpark of an identical ticket for EWR-HKG alone, and I suspect this is the case for PEY and Y as well. PEY fare specials out of pretty much every US city to Taiwan and Southeast Asia, permitting stopovers in Hong Kong, where the added segments essentially are priced at zero. This is wonderful for people in the US who want to get to Asia cheaply. But, in your case it will work in reverse, since those segments were added on at very low cost to the whole itinerary. Essentially the "value" of your ticket is overwhelmingly going to be in the EWR sectors.

also search around for equipment swaps. It's very common on regional routes. There's not a whole lot you can do about it, and given the way they run their operation with swaps to BKK / TPE / etc (I'll leave that for another thread, but us CX regulars aren't fans of it), they can't be offering everyone freebie upgrades to J class just because the last 2 hour sector of a 20 hour itinerary went from PEY to regular Y.
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Old Oct 31, 17, 5:15 am
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Originally Posted by Joe1690 View Post
My flight which is only a little over a month from now has just recently changed from a A350 to a 777W with the regional business class and coach. Cathay Pacific has decided to downgrade me from PE to coach since the route no longer offers PE.
responded at length in my post above, but just something small here:

CX does not have 77Ws (aka 777-300ER) in a regional configuration. Both of CX's 77W configurations ("77H" and "77G") have premium economy and long-haul products. The main difference is 77H is more premium, has F class, and 275 total seats. 77G is less premium, doesn't have F class, and has 340 total seats. But both have PEY.

You're likely referring to your sector getting swapped to the 777-300 or 777-200 (non -ER variants), both of which CX configures in a regional mode without PEY and regional J class. The 777-300 (non -ER) is a relatively rare variant flown by some Asian / Russian operators that was produced years before the 777-300ER first flew. They are almost always in high-density configurations as their range is significantly less than the 77W. Besides CX, they are flown by Korean, Thai, Emirates, and a Russian carrier. There may be one or two others but not many.

We maintain this spreadsheet which can keep you abreast of CX fleet and route configurations. Note the regional routes are highly variable.

Cathay Pacific / Cathay Dragon Fleet, Route and Configuration Guide
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Old Oct 31, 17, 8:39 am
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Originally Posted by QRC3288 View Post
If you had booked EWR-HKG-BKK on a mixed PEY and Y itinerary, I'd generally bet the pricing was identical. Which unfortunately doesn't bode well for you.
Originally Posted by Joe1690 View Post
I also realize that they rarely help customers who have booked with online TAs but was curious before I reach out to Cathay Pacific to see what in fact should be the minimum remedy I should expect.
As mentioned by QRC3288 above, the price difference is minimal, if any. To give you an idea, I booked a flight for a relative (JFK-HKG-SIN) on a mixed itinerary (because connecting flight doesn't have Y+). I called CX directly for a mixed Y+ and J (instead of Y+ and Y). Price difference between regional Y and regional J (when connecting from long-haul Y+) was USD 50. BKK should be in the same ballpark. So something to consider the next time you fly CX to regional destinations where equipment swap is the norm.

Btw, does anyone know why CX doesn't offer mixed Y+ and J online? Is it system limitation or is it by design? For as long as I can remember, when the connecting flight doesn't have Y+, the option (online) for regional flight was always Y class. With price difference between B (or H) and I fare bucket relatively small (for regional when connecting from long-haul), I'm pretty sure many passengers would opt for J class instead of Y. It is a bit odd in this day and age that one needs to call CX (or ask TA) to get that option ...

Last edited by Rivarix; Oct 31, 17 at 8:57 am
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Old Oct 31, 17, 8:52 am
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I have seen CMB(I)-HKG(E)-Australia and CMB(H/B)-HKG(R)-Australia offered (within minutes of each other) with the latter being a lot more expensive.

I did query MPC about this but did not get a meaningful reply. A year ago I suggested regional I class should be offered if there were no PEY regional when connecting to long haul PEY (thinking of USA)

Just wandering
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Old Oct 31, 17, 9:54 am
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Originally Posted by Rivarix View Post
As mentioned by QRC3288 above, the price difference is minimal, if any. To give you an idea, I booked a flight for a relative (JFK-HKG-SIN) on a mixed itinerary (because connecting flight doesn't have Y+). I called CX directly for a mixed Y+ and J (instead of Y+ and Y). Price difference between regional Y and regional J (when connecting from long-haul Y+) was USD 50. BKK should be in the same ballpark. So something to consider the next time you fly CX to regional destinations where equipment swap is the norm.
While my own experience, in an ac swap situation I got upgraded from E to I, I could tell the price difference is indeed very small. E class (not sure if that's what OP booked) is very close to H for regional. Feel bad for OP, but regional J is pretty close to LH PEY IMO... (ISM comes down to say hi - OWE has that anyway; menu and food cart that shows you options, not a big deal for a short flight IMO)
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Old Oct 31, 17, 7:45 pm
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Originally Posted by andersonCooper View Post
While my own experience, in an ac swap situation I got upgraded from E to I, I could tell the price difference is indeed very small. E class (not sure if that's what OP booked) is very close to H for regional. Feel bad for OP, but regional J is pretty close to LH PEY IMO... (ISM comes down to say hi - OWE has that anyway; menu and food cart that shows you options, not a big deal for a short flight IMO)
Yea, I'll add I've bought a couple one-way regional PEY tickets this year, and each I bought a few days before flying. One time we had an equipment swap and I was put in J. Fwiw these were "W" class tickets. I suspect being close to departure is the main variable?

PEY is just great for a 1-2 hour flight. Of course, long haul J class is significantly better, but it can be overkill.... I frequently spend J flights regionally (w/ longhaul product) without touching my seat recline function. Basically just hovered over my computer or book the whole time.

In other news, as I've stated endlessly elsewhere, I abhor CX's regional J seat. I'd rather have two economy seats than one regional J seat. And I'd obviously far rather have premium economy over regional J. Such a (clever, on CXs part) pity to not have PEY on regionally equipped planes.

​​​​​​To the OP....regional J stinks, especially if you're on a 777, which is 7 across. At least in the A333 regional ("33P") the middle aisles seats D and G offer exclusive aisle access. The 777 you can always have someone crawling over you, or have to crawl over someone.
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Old Nov 3, 17, 12:22 pm
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I just received email from CX that my flight BKK - SIN next month has Equipment Changed. I booked PEY, 'E' class and they will contact me soon. What should I expect? I assume I will be downgraded to Y? It happened to me before but I was upgrade to J instantly, having booked on a 'R' class.
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Old Nov 3, 17, 6:47 pm
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Originally Posted by JohnGreat View Post
I just received email from CX that my flight BKK - SIN next month has Equipment Changed. I booked PEY, 'E' class and they will contact me soon. What should I expect? I assume I will be downgraded to Y? It happened to me before but I was upgrade to J instantly, having booked on a 'R' class.
unsure, but it would be great if you could return to give us an anecdote. It seems the OP from this thread is missing it'd be helpful if you could at least revert with some updates.
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Old Nov 4, 17, 6:22 am
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So I just had an equipment change on SIN-HKG for tomorrow. I was booked in PEY 'E' Class, but because there is no PEY on 772 they downgraded me to the back of the plane in 'L'
I honestly don't care about the seat on 3 hours flight, but 'L' earns zero anything on AA and this would literally mean I'm gonna miss out on EXP, or gonna have to do some dumb flight to nowhere in December and I'd have a hard time making the schedule work. So I called CX. Apparently I could ask at the airport to be upgraded to J, if there is a space, but they can't do it on the phone. So I had them change to an earlier flight that has PEY. Turns out that because I already checked in earlier in the day when it still showed as 773 with PEY they could not process the change, but supposedly they will be able to do it at the airport. I was emailed a receipt that shows confirmed reservation for both flight. With that they are supposed to cancel the original flight and confirm the earlier flight once I get to the airport. What a hassle.
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Old Nov 4, 17, 7:05 am
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Yea, CX's intentions with regional PEY are just fine and I like the product. but, as the poster above points out and I've experienced, CX's equipment swaps really mess things up and ultimately make unhappy customers.

Another problematic feature is routes like TPE and SIN, with multiple frequencies may only have a few PEY flights daily. Having a PEY ticket can end up being a disadvantage. Likewise, the PRESENCE of PEY randomly in the regional system can also be a big disadvantage even if you're trying to do something harmless like upfare a ticket. This has happened to me before, I can't upfare properly on the flight I want because PEY is on the first sector but not the next sector.

I really wish CX would either sell PEY on all flights to a destination or not. But this would mean CX, if they insist on having a regional J product, would have to install PEY on regional planes....and obviously make some serious upgrades to the soft product in regional J, which is approaching horrendous for many flights (a few are notably good and have obviously larger menus and budget like CX543, but most just suck. As do most KA routes at this point, which is a tragedy but CX has just gutted the soft product particularly catering.) I guess chalk this up in the keep dreaming category.

SIN is a real pain in the butt. Once last year I foolishly bought a round trip PEY to SIN....never again. On the day I wanted to return only like a 6:30am flight or something had PEY. So I upgraded to J to get a better flight timing, and haven't looked back. But that's the annoying thing...I found myself upfaring. Meanwhile if you buy Y and want to update, you're often stuck with a weird choice to upfare to PEY (which totally lacks flexibility due to lack of frequency) or J.

I​​ guess "tip my cap" to CX on SIN because I fly J there now not PEY, but I damn well would fly PEY a lot more regionally if it was offered more consistently. What really sucks is the planes with PEY have longhaul J which is nice, whereas the crappy regional J planes lack PEY. If PEY were on the same page as regional J, objectively I would choose to sit in PEY not J (provided I wasn't in a middle seat).
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Old Nov 5, 17, 4:53 am
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Originally Posted by JohnGreat View Post
I just received email from CX that my flight BKK - SIN next month has Equipment Changed. I booked PEY, 'E' class and they will contact me soon. What should I expect? I assume I will be downgraded to Y? It happened to me before but I was upgrade to J instantly, having booked on a 'R' class.
Just to update..... my flight from BKK - SIN has equipment changed to a 777-200 without PEY in Dec. I was originally booked on ‘E’ and got an email confirmation I am upgraded to ‘I’. In the end of the confirmation email, I quote, “We trust this is acceptable to you”........ end of email.
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Old Nov 5, 17, 4:56 am
  #14  
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Originally Posted by JohnGreat View Post
Just to update..... my flight from BKK - SIN has equipment changed to a 777-200 without PEY in Dec. I was originally booked on E and got an email confirmation I am upgraded to I. In the end of the confirmation email, I quote, We trust this is acceptable to you........ end of email.
Without any contact from your end?
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Old Nov 5, 17, 5:07 am
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Originally Posted by JohnGreat View Post
Just to update..... my flight from BKK - SIN has equipment changed to a 777-200 without PEY in Dec. I was originally booked on E and got an email confirmation I am upgraded to I. In the end of the confirmation email, I quote, We trust this is acceptable to you........ end of email.
This is very interesting. I think it underlines the point about how CX accounts for revenue on these tickets, when you look at your outcome compared to the OPs. The OP was put in Y regionally. He/she was EWR-HKG-BKK.

You booked I presume a regional PEY ticket, and got upgraded to J.

My bet is what I surmised above is true...the imbedded incremental value of those regional PEY sectors on longhaul itineraries is virtually nil. I understand it. I still don't think it's good business to have such an inconsistent regional fleet.
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