Why some business-class passengers are being downgraded to coach

The great demotion: business class to coach.

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Imagine treating yourself to business-class comfort and real wine glasses instead of plastic on a long-haul flight only to reach your gate and find out that you’ve been downgraded to coach

Well, there seems to be a trend in the airline industry of passengers finding out via text or email that they’ve been reassigned from their cozy business seat to a knee-crushing experience in coach. Over the past year, airlines have faced operational challenges such as cancellations and delays, forcing them to change aircraft last minute, creating chaos of seat swaps.

Should I be concerned?

Airlines like United and Delta have faced this issue in their operations but have not yet rebuilt their schedules to full capacity despite maintaining fleet space. Recent earnings calls by both carriers have defended that choice following last year’s travel headaches.

What to do if you’ve been downgraded

In the event that you are involuntarily downgraded, you should decide whether you want to take your original flight in a less luxurious cabin or if you want to change to another flight to keep the same cabin class.

Travel expert Gary Leff of View from the Wing shared that occasionally, the last row of first-class passengers may be bumped back, but, “the truth is that usually downgrades are done in a manner to keep paid first-class passengers up front first, and downgrade upgraded passengers in order of status—though the exact prioritization varies by carrier.”

Even though downgrades like these are rare compared to flights that take off without a hitch, it is best to check online for other flight options as soon as you learn of the change. You will have fewer flight options the longer you wait.

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