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Bumping on European Reward Flights

This questions goes out to our European friends or anyone who actually knows the answer.

Do the same rights for bumping on European flights extend to reward tickets?

I have lots of miles and booked a flight in FC next May from LHR to TLV using AA miles. The flight is a BA flight.

BA has changed the plane it uses and FC is no longer available. I lost my seat assigment and can't make a new one unless AA changes the booking code. They won't do this unless I pay $200. (I should also get miles back but they said that would cost an additional $200.). BA says I still have a ticket and will get a seat in business class (Club World) but that can only be assigned at the airport. I would prefer to choose a better seat far out considering I'm supposed to have that right. I was on the phone back and forth between AA and BA with AA being the absolute worse. Every other word out the guy's mouth was $200.

I have a flight on BA to LHR a month before the above mentioned flight and will try to get my seats at LHR or at JFK before departure for that one.

If I get to the airport for my LHR to TLV flight, and find I have no seat, are my rights the same for a reward flight as they are for a paid ticket? Shouldn't I also get compensation for now flying in a different class?

Any other thoughts?

Posted by
544 posts

You might try posting on There might be someone there with more info on this. Hopefully they switched your flight to one of the new 787s.

Posted by
15716 posts

They moved the flight from a nice, roomy 777 to a crowded, cramped 787. Give me more comfortable seats over mood lighting anyday.

Posted by
16931 posts

So they changed the plane from a 4-class to a 3-class? You did not get bumped, you got downgraded.

If you paid for seat selection on the 777, it should carry over---meaning you have an assigned seat, and should have the ability to change it to one you prefer using MMB ( Manage My Booking). At least that is how it worked for us when we had a plane change on BA (747 to 777). I booked with BA miles (Avios) but the rules should be the same.

If you did not pay previously to choose your seat in First, then yes there is a fee to select one now, in advance of check-in, but it should not be $200. I thought it was $90 for Business class.

You should be due something as compensation for the downgrade---the difference in miles between First and Business. And you shouldn't have to pay anything for that, at least logic suggests that, but I don't know AA's rules. Definitely post your question on Flyertalk, or the air travel forum on Tripadvisor. There are some very knowledgeable people there.

Posted by
5697 posts

Bummer, Frank! United changed our flight equipment and the seats we chose as window-and-aisle in a 2-across row changed to window-and-middle in a 3-across. No charge on United for changing seats, so I went online and got us aisle seats across from each other. Not sitting in a middle seat SFO-CDG when I book 11 months in advance! Even if it IS a "free" mileage seat.
Wonder what the fine print in the AA mileage contact says about not delivering the flight class you paid for ...

Posted by
15716 posts selection in First Class is free.

The problem is the booking code I have, "z", is no longer available for my new flight so the seating chart can't be pulled up.

My concern is if the booking code is no longer available, could that cause trouble later. I was told no but then when have the airlines ever done anything as expected?

While the EU has rules about being "downgraded," AA believes that sitting in a business class seat for a flight with no first class is the same as sitting in a first class seat.

I'm probably going to send a letter of complaint in after the flight to see if I can get some points back.

In all my travels, I've never seen an airline as hard to deal with as American which "was" my airline of choice. From now on, I only fly them to use up my miles.

Posted by
16931 posts

You are correct about no seat fee in First. I was not thinking clearly on that. But I wonder if that plays into the problem you are having now. If you are willing to pay the $90, could you get your preferred assigned seat in Business now? I don't understand what you are saying about the "z" booking code. Is that for the class of service, which does not exist on the new plane? Don't you have a 6-digit ( letters and numbers) code for the BA system? Can you use that to get into Manage My Booking? I have done that successfully with partner flights (on Qantas booked with BA or AS miles) but I don't know how it works on BA since we fly them on BA miles.

I see you have been given good advice on Flyertalk. Work with AA ( through their OneWorld liaison person) to get them to do whatever it is they need to do to get you a valid ticket/booking code on the flight. This is AA's responsibility since they booked the flight.

You cannot pursue compensation for the downgrade until after the flight has occurred. Until then, it is merely a possibility. So don't even bring that up when you talk to AA.

Maybe there is something here in BA's rules that will help clarify regarding flights booked by partners:||BC|8|CTA1|||||CampID||||L2|||||||

Posted by
15716 posts

Let me explain a few things:

I have a first class ticket on this flight. First class does not have to pay for a seat. Until I get downgraded, which will happen when I check in, I don't have to pay for a seat. (I couldn't even buy a seat if I wanted to waste the money. There is no option to purchase because the ticket shows first class. )

When you call to get help with a seat, the computer shows the seating chart for the section you are booked into (First, business or coach.) My ticket shows first but there is no first so no seating chart comes up on the computer. BA says they can't change the booking code, only AA, because I booked through AA.

The six digit number/letters you refer to is the tracking number for the ticket. This will get me into "Manage my bookings." I have no trouble getting there. I even get to the page that says click here to pick your seat. But when I do that I get a page that says this choice is unavailable.

The reason it is unavailable is because of the booking code which is now not available for this flight. I still have a valid ticket for the flight it just shows a class that isn't available at this time. (BEsides miles I had to pay cash for taxes and fees which constitutes a contract between me and BA. )

The "z" code is the booking class. For AA, and I'm guessing BA, "z" means first class reward flight. The next time you get a ticket it will state what the code is . (Y is usually full coach, F is first class, C is business class. Non-refundable tickets in each cabin will have a different code. This lets the agent know what type of ticket you have. )

I did find out, since this is an EU regulated flight, that if I am bumped or even downgraded, I am supposed to be compensated in cash even with a reward ticket. If I'm bumped, I believe I'm owed 600 Euros and if delayed more than a few hours even more compensation. I have a ticket on that flight and because BA changed the equipment, they are responsible for getting me to my destination in a reasonable amount of town and in a similar class. If they move me to another day they have to pay for hotel, food, transportation and a few more minor things.

I was told by a BA rep that I will have a seat in Club World (business class) but they just can't tell me exactly which one.

The agents at the airport can basically do anything regarding seats when I check in. Unfortunately, the agents at the call centers are limited.

And since the flight is nearly five months away, the equipment could revert back to its original type and first class could be restored.

Posted by
16931 posts

So what is the problem then? It seems you have a clear understanding of what is going on.

It is true the equipment could change again. That happened with our flight mentioned above--it went from a 747 to a 777 and then back to a 747. That was in 2014. Our 2015 flight started out as a 747, changed to a 777 and stayed that way. Fortunately we were always able to choose our seats (in Business Class) through all the changes.

BA has been trying to replace 747s on many route with the 777. But they are short one 777 since the engine fire at LAS last year. They are also trying to rotate in their new 787s, only to find people complain about the seating (too tight in Economy).

I guess I better monitor our own upcoming flight (also in May) to make sure it doesn't morph into a 787. Hopefully they won't do that to Seattle.

Posted by
15716 posts

What I want is the same right as everyone else on the choose my seat now. I have preferred seats I'd like to have and I'm sure they will all be gone by the time check-in opens up. (And since I won't be able to get a seat assignment online, I'll have to wait until I get to the airport.)

It's also possible that there could be confusion and it would take awhile for it to be figured out or worse I'd miss my flight due to the problem. They could also say that I have to get AA to fix the problem. They could also claim I have to sit in coach because that's all I have available and refuse to move me because a seat is available on the flight.

Airlines can pull any number of idiotic things. That's why they are airlines--a group of companies who couldn't care less about their passengers. After all, to them, and this is true, we are referred to as "human cargo."

Posted by
16931 posts

First World problem, as the saying goes. It is between you and AA. I suggest you try following the advice on Flyertalk and try to work with AA to fix it. Or wait, on the chance the plane will turn back into a 4-class 777.

Posted by
544 posts

I looked at Seatguru and at least the 787 doesn't have the twin middle seats in Club World.

I was bumped up to Club World on a 747 and assigned 19E, but when I got to the door there was a man waiting that asked me to take his seat 14A instead because his wife was in 19F. It would be kind of weird to be walled in one those twin middle seats with someone you just met.

I figure there's a good chance of getting a middle seat since you aren't able to reserve ahead.

AA really should give you back the difference between a first and a club world award. I hope they do the right thing here!

Posted by
15716 posts

This just gets weirder and weirder.

Now my reservation shows the original first class flight and an additional reservation on the same flight but in Club World (business class.)

I guess I could call BA and get a seat in the Club World section but I'm going to wait a bit. Who knows what will happen next.

Since I don't know what cabin I'll wind up in, the plane could revert back to the original aircraft and I'm back in first, I'll wait until after the flight to request a refund of miles if applicable.