downgrade-disasterEmirates has left one member furious after their travelling companion was downgraded without warning at the gate. Despite holding a full-price Business class ticket, this passenger was forced to endure 14 hours in Economy from Dubai to Brisbane.

With Business and First class overbooked, this passenger was offered no alternative flights. They were left with no choice but to accept the downgrade as they needed to return to Brisbane for work the next day.

Our member is angry that Emirates did not inform the passenger sooner. With more notice, alternative arrangements could have been made. The airline also failed to ask for other volunteers willing to give up their seats. Instead, this member claims Emirates treated their travel companion with an outright lack of respect, forcing the downgrade on them. Our members speculate that this person was targeted as they do not have status with Emirates.

Having now returned home, the quest for compensation has begun. However, it appears unlikely that adequate compensation will be forthcoming. As the ticket happened to be booked through Qantas, the Qantas downgrade compensation policy will likely apply. This policy states that in the case of an involuntary downgrade, the passenger will receive the difference between the fare paid and the most expensive flexible Economy fare (not the cheapest Economy fare at the time of booking).

Our members warn that compensation should always be negotiated before boarding the plane in these situations. Some say that the passenger should have refused to board the flight altogether. In one member’s experience the “options vouchers”, presented to Emirates flyers that can’t be accommodated on their booked flight, are actually quite generous. But by boarding the flight and sitting in Economy, this passenger has essentially accepted the forced downgrade. This could unfortunately limit the amount of compensation.

Join the discussion HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

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