Downgraded because I was not BA Gold

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This topic contains 24 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  ivornomates 17 Jan 2010
at 13:15

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 25 total)

  • Anonymous


    On a flight last week to Delhi I was shocked when I checked in my bags to learn that the flight was overbooked in all classes and that, as a Club World passenger, BA wanted to downgrade me to economy if I wanted to fly. Shocked, annoyed and flying on business, I refused the offer and insisted I wanted to fly and in the class I booked in. The answer was no and I was told that I was lucky enough to be offered a seat, as if I take it, an economy passenger would forgo their seat for me.

    As I prepared to fight my corner I heard the passenger next to me confirm he was flying to Delhi. As his bag tag was being printed and passport checked I immediately asked the customer service agent how the passenger next to me had managed to get a seat when I was at the desk first. I don’t know he said, so I asked him myself…

    Excuse me, sir. Yes. Are you flying to Delhi? Yes I am. Okay. I have just checked in and have been told the flight is full and I have to downgrade to economy. How did you manage to get a seat? I don’t know he said, and we both looked at the customer service advisor. Both of us looking confused, we waited for a response. The customer service advisor who was checking me in then confirmed it. He is a Gold Executive Card holder and you are only Silver, Sir. I am afraid this is why…

    So, there you have it, by being a Gold Card Holder, you do get some privileges, so to everyone who is Gold member here…. No more complaints, please… It seems BA does love you over everyone else…

    PS: This is not a sympathy blog, I just wanted to share my experience and how, as a regular and faithful customer of the airline, this is how some airlines treat you… As it happens, I had to wait until the end and as there was a no show, I was accepted on to the flight…


    As always, I’d encourage anyone who’s experienced a problem to contact the airline directly, preferably in writing and whilst logged in to your FFP account.

    It was no doubt a relief that you flew in the booked class in the end, but it must have been frustrating dealing with the initial doubt – and the way that this was handled doesn’t sound, from your report, as if it was done especially sympathetically. Any airline would, I’m sure, welcome customer feedback on this type of experience.

    What’s particularly unusual, it appears, is that a double-downgrade was suggested – that’s quite unusual (though not unheard-of) on any carrier . However, of course, over-booking is an industry-wide practice and, every now and again, the numbers simply don’t add up. All carriers will make operational decisions about how to manage these scenarios during the final hours before departure, at check-in and at the gate. All airlines will have to do so based on myriad factors – of which FFP status is a common (though not universal) means of arriving at some of those final decisions. It’s not a BA thing; it’s an industry thing.

    So, in this case, while there was a distressing *potential* downgrade in the offing due to overbooking; you weren’t, luckily, ‘downgraded because you weren’t a Gold’ at all.


    Out of curiosity, what type of compensation was offered to you (in the event that you were downgraded)? I would expect that it would be at least a full one-way refund in addition to miles and/or other cash compensation.

    I have found BA fairly generous when put in such situations. I recall (although not a direct comparison) a couple of years back when the LHR – TLV service was regularly changed from a 777 aircraft to a (European fit) 767 aircraft. Upon arrival to the airport, when flying Club,(either in LHR or TLV) the airline would immediately give a voucher for 150 GBP which could be exchanged for cash at their customer service desk at LHR.


    I didn’t get to the compensation discussion, as I was simply told to wait and report to the customer service desk 45 minutes before. I was then given a boarding card with a big yellow sticker on it and told to go to the gate. At the gate my name was called and the agent there gave me a new boarding card….


    I know from several experiences over the years with different Airlines, this happens from time to time. It one of the rare occasions that the Gold card really helps.
    Generally in Business, its the manner in which it is done, the skills of communication, & conveying of the situation openly, clearly & honestly.
    BA clearly failed you on all counts!

    I know in KLM, that at the Schipol control centre, One person co-ordinates every aspect of a flight of KLM’s wherever it is around the world. Bookings, luggage, routings, delays, crews..its all under one persons oversight. When such events occur with them, it is all co-ordinated planned, & alternatives would already be booked on other carriers if you wish to choose them.

    When BA suspended all its European flights when the terrible events a few years ago with the terrorist attempts, Lufthansa, BMI, & KLM managed to run every flight delayed though it was.
    I had flown to Budapest with KLM the day before & was due back the day after. I again flew 3 days later from LHR to AMS.
    Each time they called forwards FF card holders in order of level, for the next flight, but were clear, & conveyed to everyone honestly & openly why, & what they were doing. Communication & information were key.

    However, u should have been offered an MCO or something there n then, you should not have to ask for it. That reflects again on BA.
    KLM will print an MCO or mileage credit note instantly at the boarding gate, or re-book you onto a flight of yr choice (Had this returning from HKG once when it was delayed only 4 hrs!) You also get a follow up letter.

    Perhaps we shall see this happening more, as flight capacities & premium seats are being reduced at this time all over he world.
    However, it is the manner in which it is done, the openess & honesty of the Airline with you, as with any awkward situation that counts.
    BA Clearly failed in every aspect, but you have a choice in future, where other carriers would certainly treat you in a different way.


    Interestingly on speaking to the BA Executive Club they informed me that there was a capacity issue as the B-747 used on this route was changed from a 70 J-seater to a 52 J-seater at the last minute, therefore, displacing 18 pax who were due to fly Club that day.


    DarrenJ – that’s interesting information from BAEC. So, it seems as though your situation wasn’t necessarily an over-booking issue; it was something of an under-seating one!

    That said, it does make the ‘over-booked in every cabin’ assertion at the airport somewhat questionable. Clearly, if there are fewer J seats then there are more Y seats – so if Y was overbooked too then it must have been enormously so.

    Can we ask what else BAEC said?

    Can I also assure you that these kind of situations can and do happen on other airlines daily; and every one of those airlines makes mistakes and has employees who handle things badly. KLM, for example, recently cancelled a colleague’s flight, rebooked him unilaterally on a service 6 hours prior to his booked departure time, failed to notify him and then told him at the airport that his whole itinerary was cancelled.

    After much protestation, he managed to get them to rebook him, arriving 8 hours later than booked at his destination. Not once did they offer him refreshment etc., nor the EU (or indeed any other) compensation to which he was entitled.

    Ultimately, that compensation was swiftly forthcoming once ths situation was brought to my attention and KLM were contacted officially to remind them of their legal obligations.

    Now, I’m rather fond of KLM and have flown many tens of thousands of miles with them, but I mention this to give a recent example where that airline’s systems broke down, and one of their employees went on to compound the inconvenience by failing to address the issue per her own company’s policies and EU law.

    However, this (third-party and apparently one-off) experience would no more make me switch business away from KLM than fly, though I’m sure that KLM have plenty of other customers who have had similar experiences – as any company of that size would.

    Sad as it may be then, no other airline is going to be able to absolutely guarantee that you’ll never suffer the rogue employee and/or the effect of irregular operations when travelling with them.

    Not a single one.



    It’s untrue that “BA suspended all its European flights … ” during the terrorist alert in August 2006.

    I and my family were in Amsterdam at the time the news broke and were booked to fly back to LGW with BA the following day.

    I remember that Easyjet wiped its London flights on the day we were due to travel. But BA continued to operate a limited number of services out of AMS back to both LHR and LGW.

    Granted there were some delays but, nevertheless, thanks to BA we all made it home safely.


    Again this is a classic case, where airlines gives priority to regular (faithfull!) customers. All airlines overbook and sometimes situation becomes nasty. Obviously the Gold customer is more faithfull than the Silver one and gets preference. I am sure that Silver one was able to take the intended flight as he has the Silver – probably a blue card holder or no card passenger had to take the next flight.
    For Heathrow to Delhi, why fly BA? Fly Jet airways – will save money and get bettr service.


    I recently had a simliar experience with Virgin Atlantic where I arrived at the desk to find that Upper Class was full and the previous UC passenger was told that it was the PE cabin for her, or the following day’s flight. However, although I was after her in the queue I got on as I had checked in on line so already had my boardng pass. Does anyone else know if prior on line check in usually helps in these situations- in other words you won’t be in line for a downgrade even if you aren’t an FFP, provided you already have your boarding pass?


    If you book a flight with BA and are a card holder you get to choose your seat. It is rare (but not impossible) for such seats to be given to anyone else before the flight is closed.It has nothing to do with where you are in the queue. You could be the first passenger to checkin on line or at the airport and still not get a seat if the flight or cabin you are booked in was oversold. It is possible that when you are told the flight is full that there are still many passengers to checkin but their seats (known as A status on BA) will be protected till flight close or it is clear that they will not make a connection.
    Pre booking a seat limits this significantly but not entirely.
    It pays to be nice in these circumstances no matter how irate you feel, at least until the flight closes and your downgrade is confirmed. Airlines, and BA in particular, have a wonderful comment “NSFU” which simply means not suitable for upgrade and is often put in as a comment to warn the team dealing with seating issues. If there are several of you and none have a card or other reason for being given priority to a no shows seat this comment will kill off your chances completely.


    Londoncity 01…Well that was good to hear, & lucky.

    I had to fly out 2 days after events started & BA were actually NOT letting BA customers into T4 as there were no flights leaving for Europe. This continued for 5 days, more for European flights to enable others to be run. There were none the day after, as all were posted as “Cancelled, & KLM were doing their best to put larger planes on as they seemed to manage to get their planes running ok, one of the reasons being they said, was that Schipol always had twice the security checks of LHR in particular, so they had to make few or increase few security measures.

    I had a friend stuck by BA in Amsterdam for 4 days before KLM could get him on a flight back, & another in Barcelona for 5 days.

    Perhaps it was LHR that as their main base enabled more problems, but certainly Schipol & certain airports managed better than others, as did some Airlines.


    Interesting debate…I wonder how I would have gone on in that circumstance as a platinum one-world member with American Airlines!


    I met Mollie Sugden once, you know.

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