Compensation when downgraded on a flight

  1. What are your rights when your flight is delayed
  2. What are your rights when you are denied boarding
  3. What are your rights when your flight is cancelled
  4. What are your rights when you are downgraded
  5. How to claim and overview

This is the third post regarding EU261 and covers your rights when downgraded by an airline. (I know I skipped your rights when cancelled – I’ll get that post done tomorrow!) Article 10 deals with downgrading and upgrading and is quite short and straightforward.


If an airline upgrades you to a higher class than you purchased they cannot ask for any supplementary payment.


If an airline downgrades you to a lower class than you purchased they are required to compensate you. The compensation must be paid within 7 days by cash, electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services. The amount of compensation depends on the flight distance.

Distance Refund Due
<1,500KM 30%
1,500KM-3,000KM 50%
>3,000KM* 70%

*Excludes Intra-Community (EU) Flights. Intra-Community flights are compensation at the 1,5000KM-3,000KM rate even if longer than 3,000KM

EU261 applies to flights paid for by airlines. In practise the airline will refund the percentage of airlines you paid. For example, if you paid 25,000 air miles for Dublin – New York business and was downgraded to economy you would get 18,750 of these air miles back as compensation. In the case of being downgraded for one way on a return booking you will be refunded the percentage of that one flight, not the total cost of the booking.

A downgrade is defined by cabin class. So if you are downgraded from First Class to Business class you are entitled to compensation. However, if there is an equipment swap and you get a inferior version of First/Business class you are not entitled to compensation. If you were booked in Etihad A380 First Class Apartment and instead get their B777 First Class I would classify it as a big downgrade, but no compensation is due under EU261.

Etihad A380 First Class

Etihad First Class B777


The same conditions that apply to all of EU261 apply to this article as well. I’d recommend looking at the Things to keep in mind part of the original post if you haven’t already.

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