Flight downgrade compensation: What are your rights?

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?

Check your compensation online!

Had an issue with a flight recently? You might be eligible for up to 600€ compensation Check your compensation

Business man traveling business class

Flight downgrade compensation: Basics

Can an airline downgrade you?

It can, and they do every once in a while.

Regulation EU261/2004

Thanks to the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 you are protected not only against flight delays, cancellations and overbookings, but also against downgrades.

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. Things like these happen.

In all these situations you are entitled to compensation.

The airline should pay you flight downgrade compensation.

The amount of the compensation varies depending on the distance of your flight. You can get between 30 to 75% of the price of the ticket.

  • 30%, if the distance of your flight is up to 1500 kilometres
  • 50%, if the distance of your flight is between 1500 - 3500 kilometres
  • 75%, if the distance of your flight is more than 3500 kilometres

The rules are the same for all airlines.

Your British Airways downgrade compensation will be the same as your friend's compensation from KLM or Lufthansa. Assuming, that you are flying the same distance, and your tickets cost the same.


  • It must be a flight to or from Europe.
  • If it’s a flight from some other country to Europe, it should be with a European airline. Because while with European airines it applies to all flights, to and from Europe, the rules are different, when you're flying with non-EU airlines.

Learn more about differences between first and business class.

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600 euro - How to claim flight compensation

What about upgrades?

What if the opposite happens to you?

What if there are no more free seats in the economy and you’re offered a seat in the business? It may happen, mostly you won't get compensation for upgrade, but you should also remember, that the airline may not request any supplementary payment for this upgrade. In this case must be a free upgrade.

Prioritization of clients

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, not the person standing next to you. This is how it has happened with some airlines, hence it may happen also with you in a similar situation.

Calculate your flight compensation for free! It takes less than 2 minutes Calculate compensation

British Airways planes

Cash or coupons?

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 can ask the money to be transferred back to your bank account, the same you used for making this flight booking, or other. You don’t have to accept travel vouchers, unless you prefer them over money. No matter the circumstances.

Even if your flight gets cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances, you still have a right to refund to bank account (even though airlines mostly offer coupons). Just like airline downgrade compensation, cancellation refunds must be always paid to bank account.

European and non-European airlines

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, Air Canada or American Airlines, 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 and guidelines don’t apply. Then it’s all up to the local laws, regulations and airline policies.

The same applies to charter airlines and charter flights.

Here we are talking about EU flight downgrade compensation (or how it's sometimes called - EU261 downgrade compensation). Learn more about it by checking out the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. It's available in several languages.

Find out if you are eligible for EU / UK flight delay compensation Check your flight

A man working on a laptop

How to claim flight downgrade compensation?

Ok, but how to get that money?

How to claim downgrade compensation?

Unlike flight delay compensation, denied boarding compensation and flight cancellation compensation, this compensation must be offered on the spot. Yes, the airline should offer you a payment right on the spot.

It can be cash, bank transfer or refundable coupon.

If that hasn’t happened, make sure to file a claim via airline's website. It may take some time, but it should be easier and quicker than claiming delay or cancellation compensation. You should be okay doing that on your own. That's the main reason why flight compensation companies usually don't work with these claims.

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.

Nothing. They won't just pay you your compensation.

That is - if you weren't offered anything on the spot.

Have a safe trip! And no downgrades!

Remember - whenever your flight is delayed, cancelled or you've been denied boarding - you might be entitled to flight compensation. Contact us to get it sorted out right away!

By Europe and EU we mean all EU Member States, the United Kingdom (UK), Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Mayotte, Saint Martin, the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.