Hong Kong Airlines Schedule Changes (Including Downgrades)

Airlines publish schedule changes all the time, in order to optimize connections and aircraft, as well as to reflect seasonal demand. This is very common, so I don’t write about it all the time. In this post I wanted to address a schedule change that seems to be impacting quite a few of you.

Hong Kong Airlines’ recent schedule change

I know a lot of you booked Hong Kong Airlines business class tickets in August thanks to the mistake fare they published, so I’ve been getting quite a few emails regarding their recent schedule changes.

It seems they made some significant adjustments to their winter schedule. This doesn’t impact their flights to and from the US (best I can tell), but rather impacts flights between Hong Kong and other points in Asia.

So at a minimum you’ll want to check your itinerary if you made a booking just to be sure your flight times haven’t changed significantly (though if you were impacted, the airline should have reached out to you).

Perhaps the most common problem I’m hearing of is that many have been downgraded from business to economy on their intra-Asia flight.

No, this isn’t because the airline has just decided to downgrade certain people who booked these mistake fares. Rather Hong Kong Airlines has downgraded some of their routes from two cabin aircraft to one cabin aircraft. For example, this seems to have happened on many flights between Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City.

How should you handle this? There are two things to consider in cases like this — the contract of carriage (the contract you enter into with the airline), as well as how airlines usually handle these situations.

Hong Kong Airlines’ contract of carriage regarding schedule changes

You can find Hong Kong Airlines’ contract of carriage here, and Article 9 is the one that addresses “schedules, delays and cancellation of flights.”

Consumers generally have very few rights when it comes to schedule changes. If the airline wants to change their plans, they can do so without issue. If we change our plans, we have to pay big fees.

If the timing of your flight changes significantly, the airline will give you three options:

“carry you at the earliest opportunity on another of our scheduled services on which space is available without additional charges and; where necessary, extend the validity of your Ticket; or within a reasonable period of time re-route you to the destination shown on your Ticket by our own services or those of another Carrier, or by other mutually agreed means and class of transportation without additional charge. If the fare, and charges for the revised routing are lower than what you have paid, we shall refund the difference; or make a refund in accordance with the provisions of Article 10.”

What about if you’re downgraded? Here’s what the contract of carriage says regarding downgrades:

“If you are denied boarding against your will on a flight for which you have both a valid ticket and a confirmed reservation or you are involuntarily downgraded to a lower class, we will provide compensation to you in accordance with applicable law. This will not apply if you fail to meet the check-in and boarding requirements in Article 6 or we exercise our right to refuse to carry you under Article 7.”

Now this is open to interpretation. Personally I think when they talk about being involuntarily downgraded, this refers to that happening at the airport, rather than in advance (I assume that based on the precedent other airlines have set). When you’re downgraded in advance you’re reticketed, so I don’t think that qualifies as a downgrade in the same way as being downgraded at the airport, either due to overbooking or due to an aircraft swap.

What would I realistically expect?

If you had a significant schedule change or were downgraded on one of the segments, I would expect that Hong Kong Airlines would be willing to do one of the following:

  • Refund your ticket
  • Book you on another flight to your destination on Hong Kong Airlines that has better timing or has a business class cabin
  • Allow you to terminate travel in Hong Kong rather than wherever you were connecting to (this seems like a reasonable accommodation, even if it’s not explicitly allowed)

What about compensation for a downgrade from business class to economy? Personally I wouldn’t expect cash compensation, and as a general rule compensation would likely come in the form of the price difference between business class and economy, so on a $600 mistake fare they may just end up collecting more money from you. 😉

It can’t hurt to complain to the airline and see if they’ll throw you some miles, or something, though I’m not sure I’d personally even do that.

Were your flights impacted by Hong Kong Airlines’ recent schedule change?

Comments

  1. @Lucky. Regarding schedule change with some Chinese airlines: Our January 2019 CZ flight from PQC to CAN got changed from 8.20pm to 2.15am with no notification whatsoever (Delta award ticket). I just happened to check it. And they automatically rescheduled us for next day, which would have meant that the CAN-JFK flight would have left 3 hours BEFORE we were to arrive at CAN.

  2. @cikub

    Check your booking how ever you made it

    You should be fine, the problems have been affecting customers with A320 connections. (SGN flights) not DPS flights

  3. @Lucky – My flight from SGN-HKG was downgraded to Y too. Do you think they allow me to change my flight to different city- say BKK-HKG?

  4. My rt Flight LAX-HKG-SGN-HKG-LAX on 11/24-12/1 they just downgraded all legs to Y despite only the HKG-SGN-HKG getting downgraded to an A320. On phone with Expedia now.

  5. Only a slight change. LAX-HKG-PVG-HKG-LAX on 03/03-03/11. The PVG-HKG leg initially was from 0725 to 0945. it now shows it arriving at 1040. Since the last leg’s leaving HKG at 1155, that’s a bit tight for my taste. No dawdling….!

    All segments still in business.

  6. Some feedback- did the ~$600 LAX-HKG-DPS route starting on Sept 18th. A bit of drama in the days leading up to the 1st leg because of Typhoon Mangkhut, but we escaped the airport closures by a day. Phew!

    LAX>HKG: A350 was pleasant enough. Service was odd and spotty, but the staff was courteous. We were in the “honeymoon” seats which were private and comfortable, but like many airlines with these types of seats, one seat gets service from the attendant on the left aisle, and the other gets service from the right aisle. If the service in both aisles were progressing at a similar pace there wouldn’t be much of an issue. But in reality, there was probably a 10 minute difference in pace between the aisles, so it was impossible to dine together. Not sure why HKA (and other airlines) can’t figure out that they should treat customers in these middle seats (who are a couple) with service from one attendant. Making matters worse is when 1 of the attendants is EXCELLENT, and the other much less so. For example, my partner had an excellent attendant on the right side of the plane. The left side, not so much. For the main meal service desert, there was ice cream, some cake, or a cheese plate. I ordered the cake. Big mistake. So, after one taste, I asked the left aisle attendant for the ice cream. He said he’d check. Then he forgot. So I reminded him. Then he forgot again. So I reminded him again. Then he came back (this is about 15 minutes later) stating that there was no more ice cream. OK, I get it, they don’t load an unlimited amount of ice cream on a plane. But because he was so disorganized, I asked my partner to ask his attendant. She gladly went to check, and in moments came back with the ice cream. Oh, and the broken lavatory mirror in Ben’s photo from his flight a month earlier….still broken.

    Icon Hotel Hong Kong: excellent

    Autus Lounge HKG: excellent

    HKG>DPS: Upon check in I was informed that that infotainment system at my seat was broken. No biggie. But the agent required me to sign a “Release of Indemnity” form, a copy of which I was instructed to give to the gate agent. It stated I was informed that my infotainment system was inoperative. Hmmm.

    Bali: 10 days of sunshine (and humidity). But Amandari, Amankila, and Four Seasons Sayan were wonderful.

    DPS>HKG: Upon check in, we were informed that our seats had been reassigned. The agent said that since I had only assigned myself a seat (and not my partner), we would be moved from 12A/C to 15H/K. She went on to say that 12C had been reassigned to a “family member.” I informed the agent that I am confident that I had reserved 12A/C, and I then pulled out my printed receipt from Expedia showing the seat assignment. She then called over the supervisor who supported his associate and told me that my partner had never been assigned 12C. (?) He then stated that if I’d like, he would ask the person seated in 12C to move when it came time for boarding. Rather than the drama, we reluctantly moved to row 15 and chalked it up to some level of deceit that was really unfortunate. Our attendant on the right aisle was truly EXCELLENT, btw.

    Regal Airport Hotel HKG: a bit worn, but on-airport, clean, quiet, and the best club floor complimentary breakfast ever. EVER.

    Autus Lounge: excellent, especially the tantrum being thrown by the Brit because they wouldn’t let his 10 yr old daughter in. Whatever.

    HKG>LAX: Pleasant flight. Same oddity with left aisle attendant being below par, right aisle attendant was excellent. While this was a different A350 than the outbound flight, it had the same honeymoon seating in the middle, and the lavatory also had a cracked mirror (just in a different place on the mirror.)

    NOTE: we met a couple in DPS at the airport lounge who were on the same $600 HKA promo. They had flown out from LAX on 9/21 and their aircraft was the newer A350 with the reverse herringbone seats. At the end of our flight I asked them which seating they preferred. They both said that while they liked the honeymoon seats they had chosen, the reverse herringbone seat was WAY better. FYI.

  7. Lucky – you are missing half the games that they are playing. They also made the flights longer which wouldn’t allow you to catch your connection. They then offer alternative flights that don’t really make any sense.

  8. Expedia is showing my entire SFO-HKG-PVG RT as downgraded. LMFAO
    I’m not freaking out and spending today on call centers. Will you peeps do it for me? Lemme know what you find.

  9. @MM

    I appreciate your notes from the LAX-HKG-DPS flight. My wife and I are taking that same trip in November.

    Did you have to pick up and re-check your baggage during your layovers in HKG?

  10. Wondering if one accepts the downgrade for the short flight between HKG-SGN-HKG, will lounge access be extended. Methinks lounge should be provided as originally ticketed.

  11. We booked a full price business class in March 2018 PDX-LAX-HKG-SGN, HAN-HKG-LAX-PDX and just got notice two days ago that our HKG-SGN had been downgraded to coach. So far I have been unable to get a response from our travel agent or HKA about our flights, seats, compensation, anything; no communication whatsoever except my call to the TA. I am paraplegic and do not fit well into coach seats, that’s why we booked business. It upsets me that they make a mistake and now we are being punished for it. They better come up with some great substitution or major compensation.

  12. @Kevin-
    Both our layovers were overnight, 18hrs outbound, 12 hrs return. No option to hang out at the Autus lounge as it closes from 1:30am-6am. We had the choice, in both directions, to check bags all the way through, or only to pick them up in HKG. We chose to pick them up because our liquids were in them. It was a nominal inconvenience even for us having never transiting thru HKG. The baggage collection process was a non-event, and the 15-20 minutes it added to our travel allowed us to get our bearings at HKG.

    Since we’d never been to HKG before, I wish we’d have done an extra day or 2 layover to explore the city. But as it was, staying at the Hotel Icon during our 18 hr layover was really a wasted exercise as we were too tired to really do anything in the city. Plus the $30, 30-minute cab rides. So, if you have the 18hr layover as we did, just stay at the Regal Airport Hotel. We booked it last minute (because I’m an idiot) and found the best rate via AAA. Not sure why the booking process didn’t mention the Executive Club floor, but once booked, the receipt/confirmation did. The club floor breakfast was a pleasant surprise. Regardless of breakfast, super convenient and low stress way to overnight.

  13. This whole thing is turning into a bit of a debacle… I thought HKA had agreed to honor all bookings

    I booked on Expedia. One week ago all flights showed business class.

    This afternoon, all 4 flights (LAX – HKG – PVG return), show changed to Economy/Coach… and I’m traveling in a few days…

    Trying to get through to Expedia…

  14. I booked LAX-HKG-SGN-HKG-LAX on Expedia for December. Yesterday I received an email from Expedia that my HKG-SGN-HKG flights have been downgraded from Business to Economy.

    My original booking showed all segments in Business (J), Itinerary on Expedia now shows up as:
    LAX-HKG economy/coach (J)
    HKG-SGN economy/coach (K)
    SGN-HKG economy/coach(K)
    HKG-LAX economy/coach (J)

    Spoke with two Expedia agents, the first one said only the shorter flights were in economy but the longer flights were still in business but that I would need to speak with a different department that handles flight changes. The second agent said all flights are now in economy. They called HK (I couldn’t hear the conversation) and said that HK had downgraded all segments due to being oversold in business. I reached out to HK via twitter, asking them if they are still honoring the flight and to confirm if I still have the LAX-HKG-LAX flights in business. HK said an equipment swap caused the HKG-SGN-HKG downgrade but that my LAX-HKG-LAX flights are still in business class and to contact Expedia to reissue the tickets. That’s where I’m currently at…

  15. I hope for all that were able to take advantage of this fare that it’s busy the LAX HGK portion that’s diwngraded. It’s 14 hrs Lax hgk, but only a couple hours to SGN.

  16. I checked at Expedia, and it now shows all 4 segments as economy class. I logged into the Hong Kong Airlines website and looked at the reservation, and while the reservation is there, it doesn’t the class for any of the legs.

    i then called Hong Kong Airline’s customer service number. Only took a few minutes to get through. The agent told me that all of my flights were still in business class, no problem.

    So….yay?

  17. @Sean

    Finally got it figured out with Expedia and HKA.

    They blame it on a “computer glitch”, but not sure I’m buying that…

    All 4 segments are still showing as Economy/Coach on Expedia, but HKA have reconfirmed that all segments are business…

    I going to follow up with Expedia if they don’t get it changed in their system tomorrow…

  18. I too noticed all my flights shown on Expedia was downgraded to economy (LAX-HKG-PVG-SGN-HKG-LAX). Did a live chat with Hong Kong airline rep a few minutes ago. She confirm most segment still in business class except the SGN-HKG flight shown as economy.

  19. Here is the response from Expedia:

    Good day.

    This is to confirm that all of your flight segments from Los Angeles, CA – LAX to Ho Chi Minh City – SGN on Sat 24-Nov-2018 and from Ho Chi Minh City – SGN to Los Angeles, CA – LAX on Sat 1-Dec-2018 are all business class and it was confirmed by the Airline.

    We do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

    Thanks for choosing EXPEDIA.

    Ricky
    BCDRHernandez
    Expedia Customer Support

  20. I used Flight Network in Ontario to book my flights and I have not been able to get a response from either them or HKA about our downgrade and we have Full Fare Business Class tickets

  21. I guess the only way we are going to know for sure, is when we do our online checkin…

    For me, that will be next Weds… 🙂

    I understand that there may have have been a glitch in Expedia’s system… What, I DON’T understand, is why Expedia’s systems are STILL showing everyone as Economy/Coach on ALL segments, despite the fact that we started notifying them 2-3 days ago…

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