Why Did Air Canada Downgrade Harry Potter Actor?

Why Did Air Canada Downgrade Harry Potter Actor?

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A Harry Potter actor was quite vocal on Twitter late last week regarding an Air Canada flight downgrade, though I can’t help but wonder if there might be more to the story.

Harry Potter star downgraded on Air Canada

Matthew Lewis, who plays Neville Longbottom in the “Harry Potter” series, took to Twitter regarding a recent Air Canada experience, labeling the carrier as “the worst airline in North America.” Lewis was traveling on Friday, August 26, 2022, from Orlando (MCO) to Toronto (YYZ).

Lewis was allegedly downgraded from business class to economy class, and he claims that the gate agent “literally tore my first class ticket up in front of me at the gate, gave me economy ticket and walked away,” and said “not a single word.”

He says there was no apology, no offer to rebook, and he was told that if he wanted a refund he’d have to call Air Canada.

Lewis makes the point that it’s “insane” that as a society we’ve normalized the concept of overbooking flights.

Lewis says he’s “thankfully flying home” with WestJet, because “besides a hull loss, I can’t see how it’d be much worse” than Air Canada. Ouch.

But Air Canada doesn’t oversell business class!

No matter what the cause of the downgrade was, it sounds like this was handled extremely unprofessionally. A downgrade should be accompanied by an apology and explanation for what happened, and at least the option of being rebooked in business class on the next available flight. That obviously didn’t happen, so some retraining is needed there.

That being said, as a policy Air Canada doesn’t oversell business class, so I think it’s highly unlikely that this was a case of the airline having just sold too many business class seats, as Lewis suspects.

Of course there are situations that can arise that would cause a downgrade to happen:

  • It could be that a seat was inoperable, causing the cabin’s capacity to be reduced
  • It could be that Air Canada pilots had to deadhead on the flight, and in some cases they get positive space business class, even if it means downgrading paying customers

Now, generally there’s a procedure that should be followed when it comes to downgrading people, as there’s a hierarchy based on whether you paid, your elite status, etc. It’s not clear if that was followed.

Since we only have one side of the story and Air Canada isn’t making public statements about the situation, we can’t rule out the possibility that something else was at play here. Did Lewis check-in too late? Was something wrong with how Lewis’ ticket was issued?

None of this should excuse bad customer service, but I suspect this isn’t as straightforward as Air Canada overselling business class out of greed, and then downgrading someone without explanation.

Air Canada doesn’t oversell business class

Bottom line

A Harry Potter star was downgraded on an Air Canada flight from Orlando to Toronto last Friday. It sounds like the customer service in this situation was terrible, with his boarding pass being ripped up shortly before boarding, with no explanation for the downgrade.

That being said, there’s more to this than Air Canada greedily overselling flights. The airline doesn’t generally oversell business class, so this likely comes down to a broken seat, deadheading pilots needing to take a flight, or a completely unrelated reason that just wasn’t properly communicated.

What do you make of this Air Canada downgrade situation?

Conversations (60)
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  1. Randall Guest

    I fly for business and pleasure all over the world and have done for many years. Back in 1986 I had a disastrously poor customer service issue and experience with Air Canada or as I prefer Air Chance. Since then, I have never flown with them again. Even with trips to Vancouver BC, I will fly through the US to get there. AC is not even in the top 20 airlines in the world. Of...

    I fly for business and pleasure all over the world and have done for many years. Back in 1986 I had a disastrously poor customer service issue and experience with Air Canada or as I prefer Air Chance. Since then, I have never flown with them again. Even with trips to Vancouver BC, I will fly through the US to get there. AC is not even in the top 20 airlines in the world. Of the top 100, they are only 33rd. BIG WHOP! As is the Canadian way it seems, accept mediocre service and respect and just live with it.

  2. John Macmillan Guest

    where has everyone been living the past 5 years. The legacy carriers are no better than locos these days. BA are the pits. Ever since smart arse MBA's get on the board service drops and pay drops. A gate agent on minimum wage doesn'tneed to explain why you're being downgraded. Nobody gives a damn these days. We wanted cheap fares so dont expect top service. The days of the legacy carriers providing full service are...

    where has everyone been living the past 5 years. The legacy carriers are no better than locos these days. BA are the pits. Ever since smart arse MBA's get on the board service drops and pay drops. A gate agent on minimum wage doesn'tneed to explain why you're being downgraded. Nobody gives a damn these days. We wanted cheap fares so dont expect top service. The days of the legacy carriers providing full service are long gone. They're just happy if their flight takes off on time and is not cancelled. They don't care and the staff dont care who sits where or who's got a gold card. They want to do their shift and go home. So dry your eyes Mr Superstar and all you others who like to think their gold status will get them a preferential treatment, you'll get better treatment on Spirit.

  3. PAX Guest

    Is it Air Canada staff or is it outsourced in MCO? Odd AC has not commented considering the bad PR.

  4. DCharlie Guest

    Because he was in Hufflepuff... the meekest of the four houses! duh!

    Currently suffering through a HP marathon with my kids...someone please kill me...

  5. Guest Guest

    First of all since Air Canada doesn’t have first class he loses credibility to start. And he’s obviously quite dramatic about tearing up the boarding pass to issue a new one. Happens thousands of times a day. There’s always two sides to the story and he sounds like a male privileged “Karen”.
    Depending on the other side of the story I find it very hard to believe that no explanation was given and when...

    First of all since Air Canada doesn’t have first class he loses credibility to start. And he’s obviously quite dramatic about tearing up the boarding pass to issue a new one. Happens thousands of times a day. There’s always two sides to the story and he sounds like a male privileged “Karen”.
    Depending on the other side of the story I find it very hard to believe that no explanation was given and when his reservation was changed from BUSINESS to economy the fare difference would be automatically refunded. So lots of holes in his story.

  6. FTF Guest

    Wouldn't this story have had more impact if he/you did not dwell on his acting history. This would be just as bad for anyone, if the side of the sorry related here is true. Celebrity status has absolutely nothing to do with the issue.

  7. henare Diamond

    It is difficult to understand why this is here at all. Who cares?

  8. Slipon Guest

    I would guess he was upgraded and for what ever reason an error was made I find it very hard to believe that he had a paid business class ticket that they downgraded unless there was a change in plane or something like that. Orlando to Toronto is not a flight they would put pilots in first class over paying customers. They do not oversell business.

  9. Capt. Rick Guest

    Was it a French crew?

  10. BC Guest

    I was actually bumped from a Air Canada where they sold a seat to two different individuals. Since I bought my ticket from United with Gold Status I was told anyone who bought directly from Air Canada had priority. Than they were rude enough to tell me the next flight available would be three days later and that is what I get for flying United. I talked directly with United who got me on a...

    I was actually bumped from a Air Canada where they sold a seat to two different individuals. Since I bought my ticket from United with Gold Status I was told anyone who bought directly from Air Canada had priority. Than they were rude enough to tell me the next flight available would be three days later and that is what I get for flying United. I talked directly with United who got me on a flight two hours later and admitted they were reconsidering partnering with Air Canada for this exact reason. I was under the impression happened on a regular basis and even had to file a report United was using for upcoming meetings with them. Airlines are not great but Air Canada was on a different level of horrible. Will never fly them again.

    1. Journeying John Guest

      Clearly you've not experienced BA in the past 5-6years!

  11. Floyd Scott Guest

    I have seen this happen (on various airlines) and while rare it can happen. My son and daughter-in-law were pulled from First Class (revenue tickets not an upgrade) on United but oddly only one of them (both were on same PNR). Customer service is probably because Orlando is a contract station for Air Canada. No “real” employees so nobody cares. The unfortunate price of airlines trying to cut costs in non-hub cities.

  12. jaldeborgh Guest

    I love it when Hollywood types, when confronted with real world hardships, make themselves out to be victims. As someone with 6+ million lifetime miles all I can say is stuff happens, it’s not fun but you roll with the punches and you don’t bite the hand that feeds you. I’m sure he’ll get his “people” to argue with AC about compensation. The reality, for all but the private jet crowd, is that the airline...

    I love it when Hollywood types, when confronted with real world hardships, make themselves out to be victims. As someone with 6+ million lifetime miles all I can say is stuff happens, it’s not fun but you roll with the punches and you don’t bite the hand that feeds you. I’m sure he’ll get his “people” to argue with AC about compensation. The reality, for all but the private jet crowd, is that the airline business has come back from the pandemic’s nuclear winter far faster than anyone anticipated, the result is a very overwhelmed system and many examples of people being inconvenienced but safe. I guess the computer algorithm wasn’t coded to prioritize movie stars…..not even sure I know who this guy is and they haven’t made a Harry Potter movie in years.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      My favorite, Kevin Smith.

      He refuses to fly Southwest "ever again" for at least 2 times.
      He is still flying Southwest.
      At least he kept his words a few years each time.

  13. John Guest

    Reminds me of a famous LOTR actor I encountered years ago (perhaps 2013) on a largely empty, evening trans-Tasman flight BNE-AKL. He was seated in row 1. I was in row 3. And he was aghast (literally open-mouthed) that there were no business class seats and his row 1 seat was an economy seat like all the others (at that time Virgin Australia may not have had business class on all planes). Other than that, he was perfectly quiet. (FYI: he was a hobbit!)

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Or maybe he saw Gollum and his precious.

  14. Steven E Guest

    It’s very odd, but , If that indeed did happen then yes appalling behaviour on behalf of the service agent, there’s always , generally , two sides to a story and we may never know - alakazam !!!!

  15. Neal Fix Guest

    We were downgraded twice by Air Canada. No reasons given. No refund of part of fare. Great money maker for Air Canada.

  16. iamhere Guest

    Who cares. Doesn't affect my points and miles strategy. This happens to many people all the time but it is not newsworthy. It only is making the news because he's famous.

  17. Dwondermeant Guest

    Well it’s Air Canada what do you expect?
    They have had a bad reputation for years
    Which is odd as the Canadian people are so nice generally.
    Poisoned business culture
    Blame it on Canada?

  18. Jay Guest

    I am Canadian and I had really bad travel experiences with Air Canada a few years ago, and they were very hard to deal with. I have never traveled with them since and never will again.

  19. Ron Guest

    While I do not disagree with his opinion of Air Canada his claim is somewhat exaggerated as Air Canada does not have a first class on any of its aircrafts.

  20. Mark Guest

    Funny I’m Canadian and way prefer Air Canada to Westjet which is a low cost carrier kind of like the Easy Jet of Canada. Regardless if he paid for business he should have flown business and if there was an issue they should have offered to rebook.

  21. James Guest

    I have booked AC with oversold business class seats. I could buy 2 seats in business class and when I went to seat selection there was only 1 seat available.

    AC is definitely not my favorite airline in Canada but I have found Westjet's prices and recent schedule reductions too much and have sadly been pushed more toward AC for my flights lately.

  22. RTWRob Guest

    I just flew AC first yesterday and it was one of the best flights I’ve had in North America. Immaculate new Max with great seats and extra legroom. I guess our star didn’t have the right spell. Expellus Orlandus!!!!

  23. Peter Merchant Guest

    First and foremost, when I board an aircraft my greatest expectation (hope) is for a safe and uneventful flight. Check Air Canada's safety record. To refer to the airline as "North America's worst" primarily reflects upon the poster and his acolytes.
    When I am called to the gate agent for a seat assignment, the boarding pass used to clear security is torn up and replaced by another with my seat assigned.
    Although MCO...

    First and foremost, when I board an aircraft my greatest expectation (hope) is for a safe and uneventful flight. Check Air Canada's safety record. To refer to the airline as "North America's worst" primarily reflects upon the poster and his acolytes.
    When I am called to the gate agent for a seat assignment, the boarding pass used to clear security is torn up and replaced by another with my seat assigned.
    Although MCO agents are NOT Air Canada employees, the suggestion that the agent ( or any agent) took away a confirmed premium seat without any attempt at explanation is simply unbelievable.

  24. Nick Guest

    I'm glad he is using his public profile to bring light to these issues. I've been saying Air Canada is crap for years, but very few people listen.
    It takes people in the public eye to actually put some pressure on them.

    1. Peter Guest

      They are the best airline in North America for years they are 4 star airline ( 5 ) being the highest. They carry over 55 million passengers ,around the world in one year,
      They do not have FIRST CLASS.They have passengers who fly over a million miles a year.
      I guess all because they are so bad!
      Glad you have choices .use it .They have a impeccable safety record.

  25. Icarus Guest

    Overbooking can result from a broken seat taken out of service, change of aircraft and different configuration, payload issue due to weather. An algorithm in the check in system usually works out which passenger based on time of check in, booking class and frequent flier status.

    He could also be a DYKWIA. What if it was a complimentary upgrade and he had to be downgraded?

    Not much time at the gate to do anything.

    I’m sure the staff did say something.

  26. Johnnieyul Guest

    I’ve suffered worse, countless times, with plenty of status with Air Canada. Seat inoperable, but they fully boarded the plane, didn’t downgrade us to economy, didn’t ask for volunteers, didn’t honor our status, nothing. Only standby in economy on next available flight.

    Etc etc.

    Staff are trained not to be helpful. Air Canada has magical employees but they are few and far between.

    We’ve even been treated differently by the flight director...

    I’ve suffered worse, countless times, with plenty of status with Air Canada. Seat inoperable, but they fully boarded the plane, didn’t downgrade us to economy, didn’t ask for volunteers, didn’t honor our status, nothing. Only standby in economy on next available flight.

    Etc etc.

    Staff are trained not to be helpful. Air Canada has magical employees but they are few and far between.

    We’ve even been treated differently by the flight director when upgraded using eUpgrades. Almost made to feel like we were thieves.

    And worst of all, when standby cleared for earlier flight, then flight cancelled, then tried to get our original confirmed seats in J on later flight, customer service agent honestly said the check in agent improperly « offloaded » us, to which supervisor leans in and whispers « you’re not supposed to tell them that » to which I roar, « Are you reprimanding an employee for being honest and doing their job? Are you in the business of lying to your most elite/preferred customers now? »

    Awful anecdotes.

    Oh and thanks for the 30$ refund. Not sure how they calculated that one….

    But people who think they are the worst airline have clearly too small a sample size…

  27. Frequent AC Flyer Guest

    To begin with, the MCO-YYZ route is operated by Air Canada Rouge (a low-cost leisure subsidiary of Air Canada) which only offers only Premium Rouge as upgraded product above economy. There is no first class on this route or on any Air Canada flight. Air Canada like other Star Alliance members does not have paper tickets. Like every airline, if one decides use an electronic ticket voucher at a lower class level, you can if...

    To begin with, the MCO-YYZ route is operated by Air Canada Rouge (a low-cost leisure subsidiary of Air Canada) which only offers only Premium Rouge as upgraded product above economy. There is no first class on this route or on any Air Canada flight. Air Canada like other Star Alliance members does not have paper tickets. Like every airline, if one decides use an electronic ticket voucher at a lower class level, you can if there is available seat. When doing so, the passenger would have received a waitlisted in Premium Rouge paper boarding pass to get through security and access to the lounge, if available. Star Alliance lounge is not generally convenient to access at Orlando for AC flights. Such boarding pass has no seat allocation which is exchanged at the gate. Seat allocation is provided at the gate based on availability.

    1. Rozellev Guest

      If you check in at a kiosk at the gate they do give you a paper ticket. Lol

    2. Bob Guest

      Kind of odd that they didn't even offer other premium customers a voucher to give up their seat other than the seat issue was very last minute. But clearly there would be zero doubt that the bumped customer would be pi$$*d so to say nothing is pitiful service. I'm not entirely surprised. I flew AC twice in my life and both times they were terrible. I never flew with them again.

  28. Tennen Gold

    AC downgraded me on a transcon at check-in once (3 hours before departure). Paid J, *G. They were very apologetic but gave me absolutely no explanation and wouldn't re-accommodate onto a different flight. No aircraft change and my seat wasn't inop (saw a pax in it). It took months of arguing to get a partial refund of ~CAD 90 since it was part of a TATL.

  29. Donna Diamond

    I wish I had some clarity on how the airlines generally (realizing that they have different rules) determine downgrades. An article on this would be quite illuminating. I can’t imagine it would be totally random. Hard to know what happened with this guy, given that allegedly no explanation was made for the action. There’s got to be more to this.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Well if they upgrade you when you dress up or on a Honeymoon.

      Then you get downgrade when
      1. Wearing flip flop, shorts, and tank tops.
      2. Going through a divorce.

      Enough clarity?

  30. Alonzo Diamond

    Just another example of "when my privilege doesn't get me what I want, I go on a Twitter tirade". Donkeys r us. Take that Rouge bumping bullshit somewhere else homeboy.

    1. Frank Guest

      I believe it is good when celebrities are open about poor service. Air Canada is very poor at customer relations therefore this type of media coverage may get them to improve and start caring for customers, but I doubt it as it is an ingrained corporate culture.
      Seen elsewhere:- ac motto:-
      We are not happy till you are not happy.!!

  31. Baliken Member

    He’s not wrong about Air Canada being the worst airline in North America.

    1. Gordon McFarlane Guest

      Rubbish. Air Canada is head and shoulders better than other North American carriers, other than probably Porter. Look at the survey results which consistently put AC at the top.
      Rouge? It’s a joke.

    2. Baliken Member

      AC fanboys must complete the surveys. My experiences with AC over the last 2-3 years compared with UA, DL and AA definitely demonstrate that AC is the worst of these 4 major airlines. I trust my experience better than surveys.

    3. Canadian Platinum Guest

      I trust my experience as well over 40 years of flying in Canada and internationally on multiple airlines. AC doesn't match some of the Asian and ME airlines but is miles better than US carriers. Fanboy of AC? No. Discerning customer? Yes.

  32. Cy Guest

    Why does a dead head pilot get a business class seat over a paying customer? Put them in steerage with everyone else.

    1. JasonB Member

      Probably in their collective contract.

    2. Icarus Guest

      They actually have a priority and could be due to mandatory rest period if they are flying at the other end

  33. Endre Guest

    Couldn’t he just have waved his magic wand?

    1. Alan Guest

      Haha underrated comment, love it!

    2. Eskimo Guest

      Magic wand?

      Why does he need to use a wand when he already have a broom.

  34. stogieguy7 Diamond

    I have a feeling that there's more to this story than what we see here. Not saying that AC handled anything well, but this tale seems to have a lot of missing parts.

  35. Nicolai martens Guest

    Had that same issue with icelandair this summer, and no sorry no rebooking and no compensation

  36. Julia Guest

    MCO-YYZ is operated by Rouge, which offers Premium Rouge, not "first class". There are a lot of key details missing from this story to make any solid conclusions. Up here in Canada hating Air Canada is a national pastime so lots of people are jumping on this story to bash the airline on social media.

    1. XPL Diamond

      If the passenger misidentified (that's a euphemism) the airline and the class, it calls into question everything else he asserts. Did Neville transfer to Slytherin?

  37. Jason Guest

    I used to be on the Flyertalk Air Canada forum quite a bit and the company reps who were active on the board would assert very clearly that the company does not overbook business class. Not sure if that's still the case, but they were very adamant about this at the time (about 5 years ago I think).

    1. Bagoly Guest

      Lesson to corporates: doing underhand things does eventually affect your reputation.

      Because most airlines do overbook, when this passenger was downgraded, he immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was because of overbooking.
      Other comments here suggest other reasons which are likely to be the explanation in this case.
      If Air Canada had a general policy of not overbooking any class, and advertised it, they would have been much less likely to suffer...

      Lesson to corporates: doing underhand things does eventually affect your reputation.

      Because most airlines do overbook, when this passenger was downgraded, he immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was because of overbooking.
      Other comments here suggest other reasons which are likely to be the explanation in this case.
      If Air Canada had a general policy of not overbooking any class, and advertised it, they would have been much less likely to suffer this attack on their reputation.

  38. DenB Diamond

    The guy is witholding details that would explain why they bumped him. I'd bet money that an explanation was given at the time, which would make his story less sympathetic. I'd also bet that he went full DYKWIA and prompted the "rude" behaviour of the gate agent. For what it's worth, tearing a void boarding pass in two is standard practice by all carriers. Not impressed with this story. Has Twitter made the world better?

    1. Vernon Demerest Guest

      When you are a paying customer with a confirmed seat in whatever aberration of business class Rouge offers, DYKWIA is as simple as the seat was paid for and its his and he is either entitled to what he paid for or an apology and a refund.

  39. John Guest

    Presumably this is Air Canada Rouge? I don’t think AC flies to MCO. Rouge has much worse customer service at outstations. And as you say, difficult to judge with only one side of the story.

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jaldeborgh Guest

I love it when Hollywood types, when confronted with real world hardships, make themselves out to be victims. As someone with 6+ million lifetime miles all I can say is stuff happens, it’s not fun but you roll with the punches and you don’t bite the hand that feeds you. I’m sure he’ll get his “people” to argue with AC about compensation. The reality, for all but the private jet crowd, is that the airline business has come back from the pandemic’s nuclear winter far faster than anyone anticipated, the result is a very overwhelmed system and many examples of people being inconvenienced but safe. I guess the computer algorithm wasn’t coded to prioritize movie stars…..not even sure I know who this guy is and they haven’t made a Harry Potter movie in years.

2
Peter Merchant Guest

First and foremost, when I board an aircraft my greatest expectation (hope) is for a safe and uneventful flight. Check Air Canada's safety record. To refer to the airline as "North America's worst" primarily reflects upon the poster and his acolytes. When I am called to the gate agent for a seat assignment, the boarding pass used to clear security is torn up and replaced by another with my seat assigned. Although MCO agents are NOT Air Canada employees, the suggestion that the agent ( or any agent) took away a confirmed premium seat without any attempt at explanation is simply unbelievable.

2
Baliken Member

He’s not wrong about Air Canada being the worst airline in North America.

2
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