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Seeking Advice: On Air India staff ticket, bumped from J after seated

Seeking Advice: On Air India staff ticket, bumped from J after seated

Old Aug 2, 17, 12:28 pm
  #1  
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Seeking Advice: On Air India staff ticket, bumped from J after seated

Looking for FT's collective advice/wisdom on what, if anything, can or should be done about the following situation.

My mom flew AI recently from the U.S. to India on a staff ticket -- her brother is/was a longtime AI employee and she is eligible to fly on staff tickets (subject to availability) under AI's relatively generous Staff on Leave (SOL) policy. Depending on passenger load, SOL tickets are usually unconfirmed/standby until day of travel. Her ticket, however, was confirmed in economy well in advance -- probably because AI did not expect high load on this particular flight. AI's policy is that once a SOL ticket is confirmed, it "will not be allotted to any other revenue passenger." (See here: http://intranet.airindia.in/data/int...egulations.pdf) My dad was booked on the same flight, also economy, but on a paid ticket (separate PNR/ticket #). At the gate, AI staff confirmed my mom on an upgrade to J, and she got a J boarding pass. So that they could travel together, the staff persuaded my dad that paying for an upgrade at the gate was worth it, so he forked over a lot of money to upgrade. After they boarded and were seated in J -- it is unclear to me how long after they were seated -- AI flight attendants ejected my mom from her seat and moved her back to economy, claiming some kind of mix-up. (It is not entirely clear to me what reason the FA's offered. They may have had some other motive.) So my parents ended up having to take the 14+ hr flight seated separately -- my dad in J, my mom all the way in the back of economy.

So what can/should they do about this? At a minimum, it seems entirely unfair to convince my dad to pay for a costly upgrade at the gate on the premise that he would then get to sit with my mom, only to later eject her from her J seat and re-seat her in economy. And setting that aside, can an airline even eject someone from their seat if they have the proper boarding pass and are properly seated? I understand that SOL tickets are subject to availability, but once they confirmed her ticket in J by upgrading her and giving her a boarding pass, I would think that should tie their hands. If the real story is that they wanted her J seat for other passengers who are willing to pay for an upgrade, they shouldn't have confirmed her upgrade.

Anyway, I welcome any thoughts you all have. If anyone thinks that there is some kind of remedy available, I would be happy to hear what kind of recourse you think I have (if any).

Last edited by vishesh; Aug 2, 17 at 2:39 pm
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Old Aug 2, 17, 1:26 pm
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by vishesh View Post
Looking for FT's collective advice/wisdom on what, if anything, I can or should do about the following situation.

My mom flew AI recently from the U.S. to India on a staff ticket -- her brother is/was a longtime AI employee and she is eligible to fly on staff tickets (subject to availability) under AI's relatively generous Staff on Leave (SOL) policy. Depending on passenger load, SOL tickets are usually unconfirmed/standby until day of travel. Her ticket, however, was confirmed in economy well in advance -- probably because AI did not expect high load on this particular flight. AI's policy is that once a SOL ticket is confirmed, it "will not be allotted to any other revenue passenger." (See here: http://intranet.airindia.in/data/int...egulations.pdf) My dad was booked on the same flight, also economy, but on a paid ticket (separate PNR/ticket #). At the gate, AI staff confirmed my mom on an upgrade to J, and she got a J boarding pass. So that they could travel together, the staff persuaded my dad that paying for an upgrade at the gate was worth it, so he forked over a lot of money to upgrade. After they boarded and were seated in J -- it is unclear to me how long after they were seated -- AI flight attendants ejected my mom from her seat and moved her back to economy, claiming some kind of mix-up. (It is not entirely clear to me what reason the FA's offered. They may have had some other motive.) So my parents ended up having to take the 14+ hr flight seated separately -- my dad in J, my mom all the way in the back of economy.

So what can/should I do about this? At a minimum, it seems entirely unfair to convince my dad to pay for a costly upgrade at the gate on the premise that he would then get to sit with my mom, only to later eject her from her J seat and re-seat her in economy. And setting that aside, can an airline even eject someone from their seat if they have the proper boarding pass and are properly seated? I understand that SOL tickets are subject to availability, but once they confirmed her ticket in J by upgrading her and giving her a boarding pass, I would think that should tie their hands. If the real story is that they wanted her J seat for other passengers who are willing to pay for an upgrade, they shouldn't have confirmed her upgrade.

Anyway, I welcome any thoughts you all have. If anyone thinks that there is some kind of remedy available, I would be happy to hear what kind of recourse you think I have (if any).
Sorry but the airline owes you nothing in this case. It was your dad's personal decision to upgrade and he got to keep his seat. Non Rev pax is purely subject to availability and while it would have been nice to have this sorted out before boarding at the gate, it is entirely possible to have them re-assign you before the boarding door is closed.
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Old Aug 2, 17, 2:20 pm
  #3  
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zoonil, thanks for the response. Question: if the boarding door had been closed, would that make a difference? I'm trying to understand what the rules or guidelines are in these circumstances...
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Old Aug 2, 17, 2:32 pm
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This is an internal AI matter.

When an airline deals with the public, it has to do so fairly, and have "rules or guidelines" in place that all of us can discuss. When its a matter of what perks it provides to its own employees, there's nothing for outsiders to say, except possibly to make snide remarks about the large number of nonrevs in J on the AI flights we've flown. I don't think I've ever seen anyone post here identifying him/herself as an employee.

Some airlines have discussion groups for employees, e.g. CX Secrets on Facebook. You may want to see if there is such a group for AI employees.
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Old Aug 2, 17, 2:38 pm
  #5  
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I'd say you're likely SOL.

Gotta ask...

Why didn't your dad give the J seat to your mom?
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Old Aug 2, 17, 2:42 pm
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SeeBuyFly: When you say "internal AI matter", do you mean that the only recourse (if there is any) would be to raise a complaint with AI?

To be clear, I'm not an AI employee. Also, searching FT threads for "employee travel" turns up plenty of posts. If there's some FT policy of not discussing employee or staff travel issues, could you point me to it?
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Old Aug 2, 17, 2:43 pm
  #7  
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Har har har. I recognized the irony of AI's staff travel policy being referred to as "SOL" while I was typing up the original post.

He tried to, but they insisted that only the person whose name is on the boarding pass could sit in that seat.

Originally Posted by Doc Savage View Post
I'd say you're likely SOL.

Gotta ask...

Why didn't your dad give the J seat to your mom?
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Old Aug 2, 17, 5:58 pm
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Originally Posted by vishesh View Post
SeeBuyFly: When you say "internal AI matter", do you mean that the only recourse (if there is any) would be to raise a complaint with AI?
Of course. Or with the union. This is not a legal or regulatory issue.
Originally Posted by vishesh View Post
To be clear, I'm not an AI employee.
And you are not the passenger. The passenger was traveling as a non-rev based on her relationship to an employee.
Originally Posted by vishesh View Post
Also, searching FT threads for "employee travel" turns up plenty of posts. If there's some FT policy of not discussing employee or staff travel issues, could you point me to it?
If you will read slowly and carefully, you will see that I did not suggest that; what I said is that you are unlikely to find anyone here who can knowledgeably discuss internal corporate policies or procedures.

Quite generally, employee perks are usually at the company's discretion and there is no absolute right to them. It's unfortunate that your father bought a revenue ticket based on assurances, but there is no record of those assurances. Good luck with that.
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Old Aug 3, 17, 6:50 am
  #9  
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unfortunately there is not much you can do here....ai has been doing this for years & i don't see them stopping anytime soon....there have been a number of times i have tried a cash upgrade at the airport only to be denied with the excuse that there are no seats....while on board i have seen them upgrade staff & family members of staff after the doors have been closed....

a number of years ago i was flying del-lhr on ai in j & a passenger came & sat down besides me....she seemed pretty excited to be there & even asked me take a couple of pictures of her from her phone....we got to talking & she said she was flying on a staff ticket as her brother worked for ai & she was in business class for the first time....about 10 minutes before take off some staff members approached her & said that there had been some mistake & she would have to move back to economy....she protested a bit but then got up & left.....a few minutes later another lady came over & sat down besides me....we got to talking a little later & it turns out she was the mother of one of the on board staff & was also on a staff ticket....they probably bumped her up & moved the other girl back at the last minute....
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Old Aug 3, 17, 9:43 am
  #10  
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Wow, it sounds like this is a pretty common practice, and the onboard staff kind of do whatever they feel like. Too bad.

Originally Posted by Keyser View Post
unfortunately there is not much you can do here....ai has been doing this for years & i don't see them stopping anytime soon....there have been a number of times i have tried a cash upgrade at the airport only to be denied with the excuse that there are no seats....while on board i have seen them upgrade staff & family members of staff after the doors have been closed....

a number of years ago i was flying del-lhr on ai in j & a passenger came & sat down besides me....she seemed pretty excited to be there & even asked me take a couple of pictures of her from her phone....we got to talking & she said she was flying on a staff ticket as her brother worked for ai & she was in business class for the first time....about 10 minutes before take off some staff members approached her & said that there had been some mistake & she would have to move back to economy....she protested a bit but then got up & left.....a few minutes later another lady came over & sat down besides me....we got to talking a little later & it turns out she was the mother of one of the on board staff & was also on a staff ticket....they probably bumped her up & moved the other girl back at the last minute....
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Old Aug 3, 17, 11:29 am
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Originally Posted by vishesh View Post
Wow, it sounds like this is a pretty common practice, and the onboard staff kind of do whatever they feel like. Too bad.

Wrong.. It is not the "ON BOARD" staff who re-assigned the seats, but rather the gate agents. The "boarding door" close event is important, since all seat assignments have to be settled by the Gate agents before the boarding door is closed. So while it would have been nice for your issue to be sorted out at the gate, it was sorted out before the boarding gate was closed. The FA's onboard ("on board" staff), have limited to no powers with respect to seating (except to handling minor seat moves to handle inconvienences). The Onboard staff in AI and most airlines DO NOT have the power to Upgrade or Downgrade between class of service (Economy to Biz/ First and vice-versa) - That had to have happened before the boarding door is closed.

Again, the airline can urge you to upgrade (how many times have you checked in the kiosk, and you get screen prompts to upgrade for a fee), but the decision to upgrade was purely your father's. No one told him, that he would not be able to fly if he did not upgrade.

You can check with AI - but your case certainly deserves no compensation of any kind. AI fulfilled its obligations for both the Revenue and Non Rev passenger.
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Old Aug 3, 17, 3:10 pm
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Originally Posted by vishesh View Post
Looking for FT's collective advice/wisdom on what, if anything, can or should be done about the following situation.

My mom flew AI recently from the U.S. to India on a staff ticket -- her brother is/was a longtime AI employee and she is eligible to fly on staff tickets (subject to availability) under AI's relatively generous Staff on Leave (SOL) policy. Depending on passenger load, SOL tickets are usually unconfirmed/standby until day of travel. Her ticket, however, was confirmed in economy well in advance -- probably because AI did not expect high load on this particular flight. AI's policy is that once a SOL ticket is confirmed, it "will not be allotted to any other revenue passenger." (See here: http://intranet.airindia.in/data/int...egulations.pdf) My dad was booked on the same flight, also economy, but on a paid ticket (separate PNR/ticket #). At the gate, AI staff confirmed my mom on an upgrade to J, and she got a J boarding pass. So that they could travel together, the staff persuaded my dad that paying for an upgrade at the gate was worth it, so he forked over a lot of money to upgrade. After they boarded and were seated in J -- it is unclear to me how long after they were seated -- AI flight attendants ejected my mom from her seat and moved her back to economy, claiming some kind of mix-up. (It is not entirely clear to me what reason the FA's offered. They may have had some other motive.) So my parents ended up having to take the 14+ hr flight seated separately -- my dad in J, my mom all the way in the back of economy.

So what can/should they do about this? At a minimum, it seems entirely unfair to convince my dad to pay for a costly upgrade at the gate on the premise that he would then get to sit with my mom, only to later eject her from her J seat and re-seat her in economy. And setting that aside, can an airline even eject someone from their seat if they have the proper boarding pass and are properly seated? I understand that SOL tickets are subject to availability, but once they confirmed her ticket in J by upgrading her and giving her a boarding pass, I would think that should tie their hands. If the real story is that they wanted her J seat for other passengers who are willing to pay for an upgrade, they shouldn't have confirmed her upgrade.

Anyway, I welcome any thoughts you all have. If anyone thinks that there is some kind of remedy available, I would be happy to hear what kind of recourse you think I have (if any).
I might have missed it, but you didn't mention which airport this happened at in the USA. This whole up sell to J thing bothers me. While, as others have said, to pay for a gate upgrade was obviously a decision that your father made, it was made given the circumstance that he and his wife would fly together in the Business class cabin.

If it isn't an isolated incident then I imagine agents working the flight would know that seat/ cabin assignment isn't confirmed till the door closes, and to up sell under the circumstance was dishonest, or at the very least, unprofessional.

Also, while this might be a silly question, but did someone else take the seat vacated by your mother, or did it fly out empty?
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Old Aug 3, 17, 3:49 pm
  #13  
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I'm frankly pretty surprised that you presume to know what happened when you weren't actually there. I never said that the re-seating happened before the door was closed. You should read my post more carefully before going off on a righteously indignant rant. Who are you, anyway, to say that this case "certainly deserves no compensation of any kind"?

Originally Posted by zoonil View Post
Wrong.. It is not the "ON BOARD" staff who re-assigned the seats, but rather the gate agents. The "boarding door" close event is important, since all seat assignments have to be settled by the Gate agents before the boarding door is closed. So while it would have been nice for your issue to be sorted out at the gate, it was sorted out before the boarding gate was closed. The FA's onboard ("on board" staff), have limited to no powers with respect to seating (except to handling minor seat moves to handle inconvienences). The Onboard staff in AI and most airlines DO NOT have the power to Upgrade or Downgrade between class of service (Economy to Biz/ First and vice-versa) - That had to have happened before the boarding door is closed.

Again, the airline can urge you to upgrade (how many times have you checked in the kiosk, and you get screen prompts to upgrade for a fee), but the decision to upgrade was purely your father's. No one told him, that he would not be able to fly if he did not upgrade.

You can check with AI - but your case certainly deserves no compensation of any kind. AI fulfilled its obligations for both the Revenue and Non Rev passenger.
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Old Aug 3, 17, 3:53 pm
  #14  
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Hey @knit-in, thanks for your response. To answer your question, I believe someone else took her J seat after she was re-seated in economy. I suspect it was another gate-upgrade revenue passenger, though I'm not 100% sure. It could also have been another staff / non-rev ticket passenger who pulled some strings or had some kind of connection within AI that pulled some strings.

Originally Posted by knit-in View Post
I might have missed it, but you didn't mention which airport this happened at in the USA. This whole up sell to J thing bothers me. While, as others have said, to pay for a gate upgrade was obviously a decision that your father made, it was made given the circumstance that he and his wife would fly together in the Business class cabin.

If it isn't an isolated incident then I imagine agents working the flight would know that seat/ cabin assignment isn't confirmed till the door closes, and to up sell under the circumstance was dishonest, or at the very least, unprofessional.

Also, while this might be a silly question, but did someone else take the seat vacated by your mother, or did it fly out empty?
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Old Aug 4, 17, 1:30 am
  #15  
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Staff travel tickets are supposed to get the last seat available, which often is a business class seat. That said, the airline and its agents (ground or flight crew) can reseat such passengers anytime if required. Your mother got the seat she paid for, so not much can be done there. No basis for a complaint. AI is famous for shunting revenue pax to accomodate staff travel, so this is actually a report where AI did the right thing .... @:-) See what happened to @unicon here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/india...graded-ai.html
... and you will understand why you will not get much sympathy here.
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