Why Some Business Class Passengers Find Themselves Suddenly Downgraded to Economy Class

On Dec. 21, five hours before travel blogger Taylor was about to board a Delta flight from New York City’s John F. Assigned to a seat coach. These types of downgrades from business class to economy class appear to have become more common over the past year or so, as airlines have grappled with operational issues such as delays and cancellations that could force them to make last-minute Change aircraft.

This is exactly the case for Tyler, who runs the blog Takeoff to Travel and prefers to use only his first name. His flight was initially on a Boeing 767-300 before switching to another plane with fewer premium seats. “In order to prevent major delays or cancellations, the Delta Air Lines team performed a necessary equipment swap on Flight 2801 from JFK to LAX on Dec. 21, which resulted in a reduction of Delta One seats on the original aircraft. ,” the Atlanta-based airline said in a statement.

Are airlines downgrading more passengers?

While many travelers say they’ve experienced something similar with Delta, experts say it happens with most airlines. “The problem is not specific to the Delta,” said Gary Leff, a travel expert with View in the Wing. “When equipment swaps are done, airlines switch planes to ones with fewer premium seats at the last minute [and] They no longer have enough premium seats for all pre-booked passengers. “

Here’s a stark reminder for passengers who’ve already splurged on a bigger seat at the front of the plane: Buying a premium seat isn’t always guaranteed. For Taylor, his original best Delta One ticket was supposed to have a lie-flat seat, but it was downgraded a few tiers, past the Premium Select class, into a Comfort Plus seat in economy class, which did have more leg room than in the cabin basic seat.

“I didn’t realize it was happening to so many people. It kind of surprised me,” he said. “The general consensus is that the refund of the fare difference plus the $250 eCredit is a bit low in this case. Passengers who voluntarily choose to fly on a different flight at the gate tend to get more discount.

Delta, by contrast, does tend to do more to ensure its operations run smoothly, Leff said. “Delta is generally more willing than other airlines to avoid cancellations,” he said, adding that often such changes are the result of unpredictable mechanical issues. “They’re probably more likely to switch to a new and different plane to keep the flight running. Both Delta and United have kept more of their fleets idle and haven’t completely rebuilt their schedules to run at full capacity.” ” Both airlines have defended the choice on earnings calls in recent weeks, given last year’s travel woes.

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