Downgraded from F to Business

Old Nov 18, 14, 8:45 am
  #1  
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Downgraded from F to Business

Hi all, I booked Thai new F on the 747 with United Mileage Plus miles and I was downgraded today going from SYD-BKK. My family of 3 had confirmed tickets in F, but upon check in, was informed that F was oversold and that one of us was downgraded. Since my daughter was only 27 months old, I was told by the agent that while my boarding pass was downgraded to business class, I would be allowed to sit in F with my family as long as we only occupy two seats and get two meals. I was also given cash compensation of $500 USD. However, immediately after take off, I was requested to move to my seat in Business class, which I complied, with my daughter and wife staying in F. In addition, since my daughter is too small to have her own seat and is no longer a lap infant, her and my wife had to move to business class for take off and landing. Basically for the duration of the flight, one of the suites was empty because it was assigned to my daughter and she stayed with my wife the entire time while I sat in business class. Can I complain in this case? I understand that I received cash compensation, but my biggest issue with all of this was the bait and switch. The agreement that I could stay with my family in F prior to take off and immediately upon takeoff was told otherwise. Thanks in advance
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Old Nov 18, 14, 4:21 pm
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Sounds like a breakdown in communication b/w whoever promised you can sit in F and the inflight service manager, rather than any intentional deception.

I doubt there's any proof of the offer to sit in F given your daughter didn't really take up a seat, and TG will probably say you were offered and accepted compensation. So, whether intentional bait-and-switch or just comms breakdown, it's probably not worth making much of a fuss.

Sounds strange that they insisted your wife and daughter move to J for take-off and landing, though. I've never heard of a "no toddlers in F for t/o or landing" rule.
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Old Nov 18, 14, 4:26 pm
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Wouldn't it make more sense to not downgrade one person from a family presumably on the same booking but instead downgrade a solo traveler?
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Old Nov 18, 14, 4:28 pm
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Originally Posted by joe19924 View Post
Wouldn't it make more sense to not downgrade one person from a family presumably on the same booking but instead downgrade a solo traveler?
Presumably they have targeted award pax vs. fare paying solo travelers.
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Old Nov 18, 14, 4:30 pm
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So DG order is determined by how many people there are in your travel party? Good way to lose a goodly number of HVC's, e.g. business travelers paying full F fares.
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Old Nov 18, 14, 4:32 pm
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Originally Posted by babypuwet View Post
Since my daughter was only 27 months old, I was told by the agent that while my boarding pass was downgraded to business class, I would be allowed to sit in F with my family as long as we only occupy two seats and get two meals.
I would imagine that this arrangement would be in breach of some regulation as a 27 month old would be required to have their own seat?
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Old Nov 18, 14, 4:53 pm
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Originally Posted by wheresmybagba View Post
Presumably they have targeted award pax vs. fare paying solo travelers.
True, I didn't consider that.

Then again, logistical nightmare as experienced by OP.
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Old Nov 18, 14, 5:29 pm
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the reason my wife and daughter had to move to business class was because the purser said that she was too little to occupy her own seat in F but since she was over 24 months, could not be held on my wife's lap as per Thai Airway Policies. Therefore, they had them move to business class where they can sit together for take off and landing. This isnt too big of a deal, I am just annoyed at the fact that I was told I could stay in F and then asked to move. The fact that they had to move to middle row business class during take off and landing instead of window seat F just added to the annoyance. Thanks all for the replies. i guess its not that big of a deal after all and will just let it go.
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Old Nov 18, 14, 6:01 pm
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Originally Posted by babypuwet View Post
... i guess its not that big of a deal after all and will just let it go.
I don't get to fly F often and would not have been as congenial as you. I've got to say you are a patient person and I have immense respect for you.

In the end I believe that the purser was probably thinking of your daughter's safety, but it would be frustrating to have to move after being told it was OK. I think the onus is on the airlines to compensate you - but proving exactly what happened will be impossible. I would still put your experience in writing to the company. More than likely nothing will come of it, but at least it will be documented for your future fellow passengers.

Thank you for sharing your experience, especially since I'm looing at that exact flight in early next year.
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Old Nov 19, 14, 3:36 am
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Originally Posted by DirtyDan View Post
I don't get to fly F often and would not have been as congenial as you. I've got to say you are a patient person and I have immense respect for you.

In the end I believe that the purser was probably thinking of your daughter's safety, but it would be frustrating to have to move after being told it was OK. I think the onus is on the airlines to compensate you - but proving exactly what happened will be impossible. I would still put your experience in writing to the company. More than likely nothing will come of it, but at least it will be documented for your future fellow passengers.

Thank you for sharing your experience, especially since I'm looing at that exact flight in early next year.
I don't get to fly F often either, it was only my second time, and this pales in comparison to SQ Suites. Just a side note, since you are looking at this for future travel. The service was pretty good, other than the "miscommunication." However, the seat was very narrow and the "suite" seemed very cramped. My wife and I both agree that Air China's A330 business class was better. Other than the privacy that the semi-suites offers, which we don't really mind either way, the only difference was the food offerings and ground service. Also, I flew SQ A380 business class earlier this year in one of the bulk head seats and it was bigger and service just as good if not better than Thai F.
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Old Nov 22, 14, 7:53 pm
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Originally Posted by babypuwet View Post
Hi all, I booked Thai new F on the 747 with United Mileage Plus miles and I was downgraded today going from SYD-BKK. My family of 3 had confirmed tickets in F, but upon check in, was informed that F was oversold and that one of us was downgraded. Since my daughter was only 27 months old, I was told by the agent that while my boarding pass was downgraded to business class, I would be allowed to sit in F with my family as long as we only occupy two seats and get two meals. I was also given cash compensation of $500 USD. However, immediately after take off, I was requested to move to my seat in Business class, which I complied, with my daughter and wife staying in F. In addition, since my daughter is too small to have her own seat and is no longer a lap infant, her and my wife had to move to business class for take off and landing. Basically for the duration of the flight, one of the suites was empty because it was assigned to my daughter and she stayed with my wife the entire time while I sat in business class. Can I complain in this case? I understand that I received cash compensation, but my biggest issue with all of this was the bait and switch. The agreement that I could stay with my family in F prior to take off and immediately upon takeoff was told otherwise. Thanks in advance
The polices outlined for seating on board sound about right. you cannot nurse the 27-month old on your lap, and they cannot be seated by themselves when you have partitions in the cabin (the supervising adult needs to make sure the infant stays put, with their seat-belt fastened).

So moving to business class would be correct.

As for being told you could stay in F during flight - that's unfortunate that didn't happen, and i suppose you would have been entitled to rely on that. Personally I would have sought communication between the person giving you that assurance, and the in-flight manager. This would have resolved any potential issues before the aircraft left the gate. And perhaps worth keeping in mind if you find yourself in the same situation again.

however - there are good reasons why that can't happen. In the event of turbulence, the child will need to be secured in their own seat. If you were sleeping in your seat, where would the child go? Would you want to be woken up to move to business class to ride out the turbulence?

Bait-a-switch? hardly. You weren't sold one product and given another. Your product was unavailable due to an over-sale, and even the US DOT allows this practice. You were compensated in cash, and might even ask UA for some miles back.
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Old Nov 23, 14, 1:06 am
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Originally Posted by LHR/MEL/Europe FF View Post

Bait-a-switch? hardly. You weren't sold one product and given another. Your product was unavailable due to an over-sale, and even the US DOT allows this practice. You were compensated in cash, and might even ask UA for some miles back.
It is not going to happen.

As this didn't happen on UA metal flight, not to mention, UA often sell mix awards, which means as long as there is one leg in 3 class F, while the rest of the legs are in C or Y, you will still be charged as F award the whole way, which also means no miles are due not unless this is the only leg in OP's itinerary.

The $500 cash from TG is more than enough for compensation, as this wasn't a paid ticket or award ticket issue from TG.
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Old Nov 23, 14, 11:23 pm
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Originally Posted by ORDnHKG View Post
As this didn't happen on UA metal flight, not to mention, UA often sell mix awards, which means as long as there is one leg in 3 class F, while the rest of the legs are in C or Y, you will still be charged as F award the whole way, which also means no miles are due not unless this is the only leg in OP's itinerary.

The $500 cash from TG is more than enough for compensation, as this wasn't a paid ticket or award ticket issue from TG.
This advice is just wrong and has zero understanding of international transportation law.

An award is simply the method of purchase of a revenue ticket. There are conditions associated with the purchase, like not earning points (this is a feature even of tickets purchased by cash). Once the ticket is confirmed it is legally no different from another confirmed ticket (excluding non-statutory aspect). All ticket allow an individual to voluntarily downgrade a leg, allowing a party to travel when desperate. Similarly when purchasing a ticket through the award method, an individuals can choose to book into a lower class when the class code is not available in the award tickets class. This feature means an individual can decide to voluntarily write off part the ticket's value, in order to make travel possible (rather than increasing the class code of the ticket).

This is very different from involuntary downgrades. In this case the individual has not decided to write down the value of the ticket, and accordingly the airlines are responsible for the lowered value. Two airlines are responsible for this, either (a) the airline of transport, or (b) the airline issuing the ticket. In some jurisdictions there are additional statutory penalties on top of the contractual aspects, most noticeably the EU.
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Old Nov 24, 14, 12:39 am
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Originally Posted by Phalanger View Post
This advice is just wrong and has zero understanding of international transportation law.

This is very different from involuntary downgrades. In this case the individual has not decided to write down the value of the ticket, and accordingly the airlines are responsible for the lowered value. Two airlines are responsible for this, either (a) the airline of transport, or (b) the airline issuing the ticket. In some jurisdictions there are additional statutory penalties on top of the contractual aspects, most noticeably the EU.
The advice is not necessarily wrong at all.

Aside from the EU regime, downgrades are simply a breach of contract, and the passenger and the airline need to come to some sort of arrangement as to the damages suffered by the passenger. US DOT regulations for example don't cover downgrades.

A refund between the fare paid, and the fare travelled is about as good as it's going to get. With award tickets, this is fairly complex as in most cases, even if one leg is in a lower class, the higher miles level will apply. Passengers know this when they buy award travel.

Considering the cost to buy miles, and the miles for the value of the BKK-SYD sector in isolation... $500 is possibly about right.

I mentioned the OP could probably go back to UA - even for some sort of goodwill gesture. And I don't think there is any harm in that.

But there is no 'international' transportation law here.

Consider the position of passengers downgraded on paid tickets. Most airlines will assess the premium cabin fare paid against a full (or nearly full) coach fare, and refund that difference alone. in some cases, for example domestic USA travel, the coach fare may be more expensive than the premium cabin fare, and the passenger gets nothing. Not entirely fair, but that's how it works for the moment.

The passenger is always free to fly the next day, or on another flight if they want to. In this case, they accepted to fly that day, on that flight, in a lower class. Were they misled about being able to stay in the F cabin? Sure. but that's a separate matter.

Worth noting that Thai offers a paid airport upgrade scheme. Passengers can request to upgrade at check-in to the next highest class for pre-determined surcharges.

In the case of BKK-SYD, an upgrade is around the USD670 mark. Maybe the OP could have pushed for compensation at that level. but $500 is not that far off the mark. (The OP could consider writing to TG pointing that out if they want to!)
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Old Nov 24, 14, 2:25 am
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Originally Posted by LHR/MEL/Europe FF View Post
But there is no 'international' transportation law here.
There are three important part which are governed by international law here. First, any ticket of this nature is government by international law to which the two party countries (origin and destination) have mutually agreed to. The statutory aspects of these laws are automatically written into the contract. The interpretation of these aspects however depend on the local jurisdiction (and accordingly the later versions attempt to add clauses to fix misinterpretation).

Second, it has to do with which parties are liable for the breach. The original post claimed the issuing airline has zero liability, however this is not true. They are jointly liable so compensation can be sought from either party. These contracts are governed by normally the Montreal act, otherwise Warsaw.

Third, the post ignored the separation between a voluntary and involuntary downgrade. The compensation for breach of contract is again a matter of international law applied at the local jurisdiction.

Originally Posted by LHR/MEL/Europe FF View Post
Consider the position of passengers downgraded on paid tickets. Most airlines will assess the premium cabin fare paid against a full (or nearly full) coach fare, and refund that difference alone. in some cases, for example domestic USA travel, the coach fare may be more expensive than the premium cabin fare, and the passenger gets nothing. Not entirely fair, but that's how it works for the moment.
The tickets would have to be the most cost mitigated of similar conditions at the time of purchase. Using the fare of a full Y class ticket would not be valid since must premium class tickets are not similar in nature. If they were to insist on using a full Y class ticket as the base line, then counter it by using a full F class ticket as the comparison. They will very quickly abandon that idea.

I am not arguing that the compensation by TG was invalid, as it does seem to be in the correct area, and the passenger has already accepted the resolution. However it does seem this resolution was not fully complied with and there could be some issue there (however small). I am simply pointing out the issues with that post before these ideas propagate.

Last edited by Phalanger; Nov 24, 14 at 2:35 am
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