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Involuntary downgrade - what are my rights?

Involuntary downgrade - what are my rights?

Old Jan 22, 04, 1:47 am
  #1  
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Involuntary downgrade - what are my rights?

This has luckily not happened to me yet, but as a preparation for the day it does...

If I hold a ticket for travel in First or Business Class (paid with money or miles) and they are oversold (and op-up not available), what are my rights? They will likely offer some compensation if I accept a downgrade, but can they force an involuntary downgrade? What I mean is, technically, I am denied boarding into the cabin I paid for. Can I insist on VDB and travel on a later flight in the class paid for? Will they have to comply?

PS to moderator: feel free to move this thread - if you can think of a better forum
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Old Jan 22, 04, 2:01 am
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HI Hagbard,

This appears to be more of a TravelBuzz topic. I'm going to move it there.

Regards,

Flipside
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Old Jan 22, 04, 3:17 am
  #3  
 
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Well I hear at BA the compensation is one Palm Tree

I'd suggest a search over on the BA forum as there have been lots of incidents of this happening when they close the First cabin and downgrade pax to Club.

In some cases, folks have got near full refunds of a F ticket.

However, I am sure it varies by airline (more likely to get more out of BA than Bangledesh Biman for instance).

I had it happen once years ago (from J to Y on BA as it so happens). I had to spend months trying to get a refund as they tried to pull some BS in saying the refund was the difference between the YOW and the JOW fares (which amounted to some paltry sum IIRC). It took the wife of one of my colleagues (who happened to know the slug of a customer service rep who was dealing with the case) to intervene. Once she had a quiet word, I got the refund I expected.
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Old Jan 22, 04, 3:34 am
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I and spouse were on a US Air First Class ff award about a year ago; US Air flight out of JFK was delayed 8hrs for maintenence, causing me to likely miss my connecting flight, so US Air "walked" me to Continental...where, wonders of all wonders, no fc was available, so we were involuntarily downgraded on our entire return leg to coach.

US Air supervisor PROMISED a return call to my home to work out compensation the following week, but of course you can guess I was never contacted. I just decided it wasn't worth the hassle to chase it down, and taught me to avoid US Air for another five years, which I'm in the second year of now.

1) maintenance delay on a lazy Sunday afternoon of over 8 hrs - that was the first screwup. reminded me that US Air was marginally competent in managing their aircraft. 8hrs and they couldn't get a replacement craft ? comeon

2) walking me and spouse to my next-to-last choice of airlines (Continental) - next downside surprise. wish it had been AA or Delta where I had status

3) failure to follow through and, indeed, contact me, to provide some sort of compensation - though predictable with US Air, still, it was the telling blow and now means I will avoid US Air for x years until they either go bk or get their act together

Legal remedies or "rights" ? I have to admit I don't honestly know if I could have stood my ground or what. Once US Air's best remedy/proposal was to put me on a second airline as "the only way they could get me home" that given Sunday afternoon, I suspect the minute I accepted their offer, I lost my rights. Probably could have demanded my fc seat on US Air on next flight out, thus taken an overnighter in NYC at US Air's expense, and kept my fc seats, but didn't relish spending SUN night in NYC at an airport hotel.

[This message has been edited by ILUVCITIBANK (edited Jan 22, 2004).]
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Old Jan 22, 04, 6:17 am
  #5  
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I think this all depends on what status you carry on the airline, what fare you paid, and also (this being more important than many care to think) how you play your cards. Its incredible the things the agents that downgrade you can actually do when it comes to damage-control.

In my many years of corporate travel (where we always paid either full C or F), I have been faced with involuntary downgrades only 2 times. Lets look at both cases...

The first time this happened, I literally threw a fit... I didnt go as far as to mistreat or insult anyone, but was clearly and very openly disgusted and made everyone around me know what was going on. I put the agents on the spot and while I was right in my position, they basically looked bad and 'lost face'. In the end, I received what can be considered quite good compensation for the event.

The second time the same thing occured (I was much more senior in the organization, and had a couple more years experience under my belt - both in travel and in life), I was very calm and composed about the situation. I very quietly noted to the agents involved the consequences of the situation, discussed my rights as a paying pax, and basically asked them to make the best out of the situation for me. I then went to the lounge and had a couple of drinks, leaving them to deal with the issue on their own. The result was a very (underline very twice) superior compensation 'package'.

By the way, in both cases I had the same (top tier) status on the carrier - and both events involved the same airline.


[This message has been edited by Gaucho100K (edited Jan 22, 2004).]
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Old Jan 22, 04, 6:46 am
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Great advice for any situation in life Gaucho100K. Calm, measured, composed arguments will almost always get a better response than ranting and raving. The calm approach is especially effective when dealing with carriers that can have an attitude problem - BA being a case in point.
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Old Jan 22, 04, 10:15 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by ILUVCITIBANK:
I and spouse were on a US Air First Class ff award about a year ago; US Air flight out of JFK was delayed 8hrs for maintenence, causing me to likely miss my connecting flight, so US Air "walked" me to Continental...where, wonders of all wonders, no fc was available, so we were involuntarily downgraded on our entire return leg to coach.</font>
US Airways doesn't serve JFK ...
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Old Jan 22, 04, 11:28 am
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Are you entitled to a downgrade package if you're upgrading with a SWU (on UA) and had the upgrade confirmed prior to the trip? or is it only applicable when its a paid ticket in the class you're being downgraded from?

Thanks.
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Old Jan 22, 04, 12:27 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Swanhunter:
Great advice for any situation in life Gaucho100K. Calm, measured, composed arguments will almost always get a better response than ranting and raving. The calm approach is especially effective when dealing with carriers that can have an attitude problem - BA being a case in point.</font>
Actually, there is another twist to this. Sometimes, when the issue is less drastic than a downgrade, I have found that its usually better to document the situation and write to the airline instead of complaining on the spot. Head Office will usually be more willing to consider your status, YTD revenue and other issues in their final determination of how much compensation to dish out. Writing a well documented letter to Corporate Headquarters usually pays off.
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Old Jan 22, 04, 9:30 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by GoingAway:
Are you entitled to a downgrade package if you're upgrading with a SWU (on UA) and had the upgrade confirmed prior to the trip? or is it only applicable when its a paid ticket in the class you're being downgraded from?

Thanks.
</font>
Not sure if your "entitled" but I was flying SIN-NRT-SEA-LAX two years ago with an SWU and they gave me a $500 Travel Credit to sit in Y on the NRT-SEA segment, as C was over. I never got my SWU back, but I didn't ask as the rest of the segments were upgraded.

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Old Jan 23, 04, 1:46 am
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All I know is I was on an award ticket and I was downgraded from First to Business (BA Sleepers), and all I got was this measly MCO for CAD $11,115.
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Old Jan 23, 04, 4:55 am
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Isn't that about 3 pence (GBP)?

[This message has been edited by LHR Tim (edited Jan 23, 2004).]
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Old Jan 23, 04, 11:57 pm
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I too would like to know what I can expect. Back in Oct, I flew on UA from HNL-NRT-OKA-KIX-HNL. I only had enough miles to upgrade the KIX-HNL portion. The upgrade went through though in hindsight, I knew there was going to be a problem on the return flight. The return flight was on a 777, 3-class flight. The upgrade should have only take me from full-Y fare to Business. They didn't have Business seats but they did have FC seats. So, the CSR put me in there. I was really excited about getting one of their sleeper suite seats too. Fast forward to my return trip and as soon as I arrived at KIX (Osaka), the gate agent met me at the plane and told me to see a check in agent. I was told that no seats were available for my flight and not only would I not get my upgrade, they were oversold in Y and had no seats in coach either. I was offered $200 and put on a JAL flight to HNL. I was told by a friend that I should have received miles from UA even though I was denied boarding. Is it true that I should get miles even though I was put on a different airline? Thanks for your help.
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Old Jan 25, 04, 12:34 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by HawaiiTrvlr:
I too would like to know what I can expect. Back in Oct, I flew on UA from HNL-NRT-OKA-KIX-HNL. I only had enough miles to upgrade the KIX-HNL portion. The upgrade went through though in hindsight, I knew there was going to be a problem on the return flight. The return flight was on a 777, 3-class flight. The upgrade should have only take me from full-Y fare to Business. They didn't have Business seats but they did have FC seats. So, the CSR put me in there. I was really excited about getting one of their sleeper suite seats too. Fast forward to my return trip and as soon as I arrived at KIX (Osaka), the gate agent met me at the plane and told me to see a check in agent. I was told that no seats were available for my flight and not only would I not get my upgrade, they were oversold in Y and had no seats in coach either. I was offered $200 and put on a JAL flight to HNL. I was told by a friend that I should have received miles from UA even though I was denied boarding. Is it true that I should get miles even though I was put on a different airline? Thanks for your help.</font>
Definitely. You just have to send in a copy of the ticket receipt, your boarding pass, and a letter explaining what happened. IME, the airline always credits me the miles that I would have gotten had I remained on the original flight.
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Old Jan 25, 04, 8:21 am
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It makes sense to refund the difference between the fare you paid and the lowest fare for the cabin you were put in given your ticket purchase date, Saturday night stay, etc, for example as much as the difference between F and T for Delta or between F and V for United.

Travel tips:
http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/travel.htm


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