Etihad Business Upgrade – is this a Scam?

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  • AEH

    This is a warning to others and an appeal for help from anyone.

    We travelled LHR-AUH on 30/11/2022 with Etihad. I made a bid for my companion and I to be upgraded to Business Class on the ‘automatic’ upgrade system. I heard nothing further.

    I checked in at the airport and for some reason, we were moved from the seats we’d paid for in Economy (row 25) to the front row of Economy Space – row 15. We didn’t query it. At no point did the Etihad staff at check-in suggest that we had been upgraded to Business. We were given new boarding passes detailing our new Economy seats and boarded the plane. We were not advised on boarding of an upgrade to Business. The cabin crew brought our pre-ordered Vegetarian meals to our seats in Row 15 – they had crossed out row 25 (the original seats) on the sticker on the foil.

    I discovered a couple of days later that my credit card had been charged £1182 for Business upgrades for the flight. Since returning from Abu Dhabi, I have continuously sought to speak to someone from Etihad. They will not speak – you must file a Feedback form online. I did so on 7/12/22. I waited and waited for a response – they ask for 28 days – then extend it to 35. Some 37 days later, I received a cursory email saying we were upgraded and the payment stands. The message ends ‘case closed’.

    Worryingly they say the Manifest for the flight proves we were upgraded. But we were not. Not at any stage of the journey. How do I fight a company that will not speak on the phone, will not accept the evidence I have submitted of our boarding passes and even a photograph of the leg space we had in Economy space. How do you deal with a company who takes weeks to review a problem of their own creation and then says ‘case closed’?

    I have a responsibility, to my companion particularly, to get this decision reviewed and turned around so that we get our money returned. We followed all of Etihad’s rules – they followed none – their reasoning, unevidenced anywhere, is that “you were offered an upgrade so there will be no refund”.


    [quote quote=1336625]I checked in at the airport and for some reason, we were moved from the seats we’d paid for in Economy (row 25) to the front row of Economy Space – row 15[/quote]

    If you checked your credit card and saw that you had been charged for Business Class, why didn’t you query this failure to provide you with Business Class at the airport, when you were handed your boarding cards?

    When you filled in your feedback form, did you send scanned copies of your boarding cards, which showed the actual seats?

    If your answer is “No” to both these questions, I fear you will lose.

    If “Yes”, I am very sorry but I don’t know how you progress this. Presumably someone else will come along with a more useful response than mine.


    Thanks for your reply.

    The charge only appeared in the ‘pending’ section of my banking app 48 hours after flying.

    Yes I sent them the boarding passes, which I still have, and also a photo of me in the Economy Space seat.

    They still maintain that I was offered the upgrade. By whom, when and how is what they haven’t explained.

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    Can you challenge a “corrupt” charge with your credit card company?

    If you search Josh Cahill on You Tube (Upgrade Scam) he was nearly caught with a similar situation on Saudi..

    Nick Pike

    Martyn- that is the thing to do, assuming its a UK issued credit card. Raise a cashback claim with the credit card company, saying that you were not given the upgrade you paid for. Then furnish the credit card company with all the evidence you have.


    Thanks folks – I have a dispute lodged with my credit card provider also. Did that as soon as I realised there was a problem and that Etihad has no Customer Services or ‘Guest Relations’ phone number.
    Every ‘case’ whether financial, missing luggage, etc etc goes into Etihad’s Feedback email box and disappears for weeks it seems.
    They sell flights by telephone but don’t have an equivalent phone line for Customer Services. Something I think should be in place for all businesses.
    Apparently it’s also taking the credit card provider 6-8 weeks to revert given the number of disputes being filed at the moment.
    Customer is no longer King it appears.
    Thanks again for your advice.

    3 users thanked author for this post.
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