Your rights when you are downgraded

If your airline downgrades you to a lower class than you paid for then EU law entitles you to receive some of your fare back

Sometimes, airlines may downgrade the class some passengers are flying in due to a lack of available seats. For instance, this might mean you are forced to sit in Business Class, despite paying for a First Class seat.

Under EU law, you have certain rights if you are downgraded. To be covered by these rules, your flight must be either:

  • departing from an EU airport and operated by any airline
    or
  • arriving at an EU airport and operated by an EU airline

(Under this law, EU airports also include those in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.) 

Being reimbursed when downgraded

If you are downgraded, your airline must reimburse you within seven days. The amount you receive is calculated as a percentage of what you paid for your ticket, and depends on the length of your flight:

  • For short-haul flights of less than 1,500km, you will receive 30% of the price of the flight.
  • For medium-haul flights of 1,500km – 3,500km, or flights within the EU of more than 1,500km, you will receive 50% of the price of the flight.
  • For long haul flights of more than 3,500km, you will receive 75% of the price of the flight.

It is likely you will only receive a refund for the portion of your journey that was downgraded.

For instance, if you booked a return ticket for £1,000, but were only downgraded on the return leg, your reimbursement may be calculated as a percentage of £500.

More about claiming

Learn what to do if your airline fails to reimburse you within seven days of you being downgraded.