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Answers (15)

FIRST CLASS AWARD ‘DOWNGRADED’ ONBOARD?!

FIRST CLASS AWARD ‘DOWNGRADED’ ONBOARD?!

  1. Anonymous

    Lucky: [B]Do passengers booked on award tickets have fewer rights than those who ‘pay’ for their seats?[/B]

    was on a flight yesterday (on one of your ‘fanboy’ airlines) and witnessed something I have never seen before: after boarding, a top tier elite who had booked four F class tickets for his family using miles was asked by airline rep which of the two seats he was going to [I]involuntarily[/I] downgrade. Understandably, this was a very tense situation.

    The flight was oversold and two of the seats in the F cabin were broken (both facts had been announced [I]prior [/I]to boarding).

    The interesting thing here is that this guys seat assignments did not include the broken seats. T[B]he explanation he was given (somewhat humiliatingly in front of everyone one board) was that his seats were the only ones that were ‘not paid for’ because he had used miles and an $11 issuing fee. [/B]

    After asking what his options were (and being told he could be forcibly downgraded), he sent his two children to the back of the plane and was handed two $500 vouchers for future travel.

    Gotta say, I felt really bad for him…..and am not sure that I would have accepted the situation so diplomatically.

    Any advice what to do/say under a similar situation? Refuse the vouchers? Deplane (if your schedule permitted)? Any DOT protections?

    Thanks!

  2. Gaurav

    Wow, that’s a pretty awful situation. I’m not sure what the legalities are here. Maybe [USER=4]@Lucky[/USER] can do a post discussion about this. At the very least I would request a full refund of miles for the trip in addition to whatever vouchers were offered.

  3. Gaurav

    Do you have any specifics about airline, flights, airport etc?

  4. Anonymous

    Absolutely not policy for any airline I know of. Unless there are details we don’t know (like maybe they’d been rebooked or on standby), he could have held out.

    Once your tickets have been issued, revenue and award tickets should be treated the same operationally with very very very few exceptions.

  5. Chris M.

    I’ve seen it go the other way, but not down. Once we had an equipment swap from an AA 767 (without first class) to an AA 777 (with first class). From talking to people, it seemed like they upgraded those who paid.

  6. Gaurav

    [USER=449]@Chris M.[/USER] That would be perfectly reasonable to me. The original post seems egregious.

  7. Chris M.

    [QUOTE=”Gaurav, post: 11499, member: 79″][USER=449]@Chris M.[/USER] That would be perfectly reasonable to me. The original post seems egregious.[/QUOTE]
    Agreed.

  8. liam

    [QUOTE=”Tiffany, post: 11395, member: 7″]Absolutely not policy for any airline I know of. Unless there are details we don’t know (like maybe they’d been rebooked or on standby), he could have held out.

    Once your tickets have been issued, revenue and award tickets should be treated the same operationally with very very very few exceptions.[/QUOTE]

    Hi, the family had not been rebooked from a previous flight and was not traveling standby. The award tickets had been booked well in advance for this particular flight (this was a peak holiday trip from Hawaii).

    The rationale used by the station manager was that they were the only seats in the F cabin that were, as he put it, ‘non revenue’. What was particularly egregious (though I did not learn until we landed) was that at least one person in the F cabin had been upgraded from coach because that cabin was oversold.

    Still don’t understand how this could have happened. I’ve heard that seat assignments are not actually guaranteed. But can an airline really move you…literally….anywhere on the plane (between cabins) and get away with it?

    Again, any advice as to what to do under such circumstances? Sit in assigned seat until security comes? Verbally state that you are not accepting the downgrade and that you do not accept the attempt to compensate? Literally these guys were told that they needed to move or ‘would be moved’ and were handed $500 vouchers. Do you hand the vouchers back, etc?

  9. Gaurav

    Personally, I’d have stayed sitting in my assigned seating and kept repeating “This is a seat I have paid for and do not agree to a downgrade.” Unless the airline employee is going to argue that points they sell for 2c each at the cheapest are worthless, I’m not sure they have a leg to stand on.

  10. Anonymous

    Yeah, it’s bizarre that the station manager would claim they were “non-revenue” passengers. That’s a very specific turn of phrase used to denote staff tickets, which an airline employee would obviously know.

    So no, I wouldn’t agree to a downgrade under those terms. I might have volunteered to take a later flight in exchange for more significant compensation, along with the guarantee that our group remained in our ticketed cabin. I would absolutely have handed the vouchers back with a polite “No thank you. We would like to remain together in our ticketed cabin.”

    And really, this should [I]never[/I] have happened on board. It’s the gate agent’s responsibility to handle oversells prior to boarding, so sounds like there were several fails.

    If you’re still in touch with the family, they should contact the airline that issued their award tickets and, at a minimum, have the mileage difference between first and coach refunded.

  11. Anonymous

    A very strange situation. I read the post a few times, and each time I read it I had a different thought. Going to be tackling this in a blog post today.

  12. liam

    Thanks!
    [QUOTE=”Tiffany, post: 11512, member: 7″]Yeah, it’s bizarre that the station manager would claim they were “non-revenue” passengers. That’s a very specific turn of phrase used to denote staff tickets, which an airline employee would obviously know.

    So no, I wouldn’t agree to a downgrade under those terms. I might have volunteered to take a later flight in exchange for more significant compensation, along with the guarantee that our group remained in our ticketed cabin. I would absolutely have handed the vouchers back with a polite “No thank you. We would like to remain together in our ticketed cabin.”

    And really, this should [I]never[/I] have happened on board. It’s the gate agent’s responsibility to handle oversells prior to boarding, so sounds like there were several fails.

    If you’re still in touch with the family, they should contact the airline that issued their award tickets and, at a minimum, have the mileage difference between first and coach refunded.[/QUOTE]

    Thanks Tiffany! That was my take on the vouchers as well. Although they clearly did not ‘accept’ them, I too would have handed them back.

  13. liam

    [QUOTE=”Lucky, post: 11557, member: 4″]A very strange situation. I read the post a few times, and each time I read it I had a different thought. Going to be tackling this in a blog post today.[/QUOTE]

    Look forward to it! Happy to ‘fill in some of the dots as well’ via dm. I’m trying to be respectful of the carrier and employees here because everyone was in a very difficult situation. But as someone who uses award tickets frequently, this cut ‘close to home’ and left me with a lot of questions about ‘award passengers rights’ and what do under similar circumstances.

  14. Gaurav

    [URL]http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2016/01/11/flight-downgrade-rights/[/URL]

  15. AlexGBBAGold

    This is a typical scenario, however, $500 seems a bit mean. It happened to me just last week on a reward flight from PTY to Guatemala (Copa). I had to work the staff onboard to hunt for volunteers which they found.

    On a domestic First flight they usually pay for a bump-off $200, so, $500 sounds quite ok for First. Worth mentioning, why not issue $500 for each child too? Again, this is probably something that is clearly written into their policy.

    My best downgrade was flying from the Easter Island to somewhere on the main land where the airline offered $2,7K in vouchers or $1,8K in cash (LAN, I believe).

    The most beautiful policy on AA though is when you are bumped off and doing a tear-run – even if you miss all the flights/re-routed – your tear points will be added OK for the original itinerary. When i do my runs i actually fly around Christmas (like this year) to maximise the chance of a bump-off (pocketing compensation cash and getting all tier points for the otherwise very tiresome tier-runs!)

    May I suggest for the moderators to start a useful thread on “AIRLINE COMPENSATION”.

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