The same like upgrading also downgrading happens.
If you are travelling in Europe or with a European airline, there are very specific rules regarding that. And if you’ve been downgraded, the airline should pay you compensation. The amounts of flight downgrade compensation usually are between 30 to 75% of the price of the ticket, depending from the distance of your flight.
What should you do next?
How to receive your involuntary downgrade compensation?
You have booked a first class ticket, but then… at the airport you learn, that you’ll have to fly in business class or economy. Or maybe you have booked a business class seat, but there are no any seats left and you have to fly in economy class.
In all these situations you are entitled to flight downgrade compensation.
The amount of the compensation is gonna be between 30 to 75% of the price of the ticket.
The rules are the same for all airlines.
Your British Airways downgrade compensation will be the same as your friend's compensation from KLM. Assuming, that you are flying the same distance, and your tickets cost the same.
What about upgrades?
If there are no more free seats in the economy and you’re offered a seat in the business? That’s ok, but you should remember, that the airline may not request any supplementary payment for this upgrade.
It should be a flight to or from Europe.
If it’s a flight from another country to Europe, it should be with a European airline. Because the rules are different, when you're flying with non-EU airlines.
Learn more about differences between first and business class.
Like most of businesses airlines do prioritize their clients. And if you have booked your flight using miles, don’t be surprised that you are the one offered involuntary downgrading.
As stated in the regulation, the compensation shall be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services.
You don’t have to accept travel vouchers, unless you prefer them over money.
No matter the circumstances.
Even when your flight gets cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances.
Was your flight with Air France or, for example, Qatar Airways?
Why it matters? If you are flying with a European airline, these rules apply to all commercial flights both from and to Europe. If you are flying with a non-European airline, like Qatar Airways, these rules apply only to their flights from Europe.
In the rest of the situations and when travelling in other parts of the world, the above mentioned rules don’t apply. Then it’s all up to local rules and airline policies.
The same applies to charter airlines.
Here we are talking about EU flight downgrade compensation (or we can also call it EU261 downgrade compensation). Learn more by checking out the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004.
Ok, but how to get that money?
How to claim downgrade compensation?
Unlike flight delay compensation and flight cancellation compensation, this one you should be offered by your airline right on the spot. How else would you make a business or first class traveller to move to economy?
If that hasn’t happened, make sure to file a claim.
If there has been a downgrade from business class to economy, or if you're downgraded from first class to business class, file a claim.
Because if you wait and do nothing, your airline will do the same.
That is - if you aren't offered anything on the spot.
Have a safe trip! And no downgrades!