Bits: the facts on EC261 when downgraded, Etihad sale launched, good Miles & More hotel offer

News in brief:

Recent court judgement on how you receive compensation when downgraded

I ran an article about EC261 downgrade compensation on Wednesday.  I said in that piece that some parts of the regulations were unclear.

Reader Coby sent me a link to this court judgement from July 2016.  It clarifies three points once and for all:

compensation is based on the cost of that journey and not your entire ticket cost.  This means that, for a return ticket, compensation for a downgrade on the outbound is based on 50% of the cost of your return ticket.

compensation for multi-segment tickets should be based on the pro-rata cost of that leg based on distance flown.  This means that if you were downgraded on the Dublin to Heathrow leg of a Dublin – Heathrow – Bangkok ticket, your compensation would be based on roughly 5% of the cost of your ticket.

taxes and charges which are fixed irrespective of class of travel should be excluded from any refund calculation

These are logical outcomes and make the situation clearer when you are submitting a downgrade claim.

Full details of the amount of compensation due for a downgrade is in my article from Wednesday here.

PS.  If you are seriously interested in EC261, my friend Jeremias edited this legal textbook on all aspects of the regulations.

Etihad sale

Etihad sale now on

Our coverage of the Middle East airlines has been quite ‘Qatar heavy’ recently because of their aggressive sales.  That will change over the next couple of months, however, as I will soon have the tough task of doing a (self funded) ‘back to back’ comparison of Etihad A380 First Class vs Emirates A380 First Class!  I haven’t flow Emirates First Class for eight years so it will be good to give it another go.

I rate the Business Class Studio on the Etihad A380 very highly – it is probably my favourite business class product in the sky (read my review here), just edging out Qatar Airways.

Etihad has just launched a new sale.  £325 in Economy to Abu Dhabi is as good as you get, and Dubai is a £40 taxi ride away – or a very cheap bus ride.  Johannesburg at £2,435 and Perth at £2,599 are OK in business class.  Forget the £2,799 Sydney fare though and go with Malaysia’s £1,500 deal.

Full sale details can be found here.

Miles & More

1,000 bonus Miles & More miles when you credit hotels stays to Lufthansa

Most hotel loyalty programmes give you the option of taking airline miles INSTEAD of points.  These deals are often not very attractive, but if you are at a chain where you rarely stay it can make more sense than taking some points you will never use.

For example, if you do NOT take IHG Rewards Club points and elect to earn Avios instead, this is what you get:

  • Earn 500 Avios per qualifying stay at participating InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, located outside of the USA, Canada, Mexico, Latin America and Caribbean (bad deal)
  • Earn 2 Avios per $1 spent at InterContinental Hotels and Resorts located in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Latin America, Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts and Hotel Indigo (could be attractive)
  • Earn 1 Avios per $1 spent at Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Candlewood Suites & Staybridge Suites (bad deal)

Compared to the generous points opportunities with the Accelerate promotion, plus the fact that points count towards status, taking miles is rarely good value.

However ….

Until 28th February, Miles & More is offering 1,000 bonus miles when you credit a hotel stay to the programme instead of taking hotel points.

(With Hilton, this would mean switching to ‘points and miles’ and choosing Miles & More for the miles element.)

This could be attractive.  I tend to value Miles & More miles at 1p when used for premium class redemptions.  This means that you’d be getting £10 of additional value, and that is on top of the value of your base miles.

This deal only makes sense if you already have some Miles & More miles – you won’t earn enough from this deal to get to a premium class redemption on its own.  It is definitely tempting though, and if I end up having a cash Hilton stay in the next 5 weeks I will definitely be taking advantage.

Full details of the offer are here.

For clarity, this offer does NOT include making transfers of existing hotels points to Miles & More.  It only works for points from new stays.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

BA launches 'part pay with Avios' special offer - but is it worth it?
Bits: important Accor promo update, Accor / Iberia transfer rate changed?
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Comments

  1. You mention delay a couple of times for EC261; compensation for delay, submitting for delay. I think you meant downgrade :)

    • Fixed, thanks

      • You mentioned the following tips to another reader yesterday, which I made a note of as I tend to forget things in the heat of the moment:
        – Never sign anything you are offered;
        – dig out your phone and look up potential alternative flights with availability they could put you on;
        – challenge them to see if they have asked for volunteers which they should;
        – ask to take a flight another day in return for hotel etc.

        Although not HfP specific, do you a similar (or the same) set of rules for flight cancellations? :) any plans to do an article at some point (or have you done it and I’ve forgotten about it?)… I’m aware there’s probably a million websites that already cover it, but I trust this one, and find it easy to take on board re: your writing style etc :)

        • You have no rights with a cancellation within 14 days.

          For an airport cancellation, I recommend the same plan. Fire up Expedia, look at all flight options (inc those with connections) and make special note of those on oneworld partner airlines, and specifically request what you want.

      • CHarlie Whiskey says:

        Still there I think Rob:

        ” ..compensation is based on the cost of that journey and not your entire ticket cost. This means that, for a return ticket, compensation for A DELAY on the outbound is based on 50% of the cost of your return ticket.”

        • Oddly, it isn’t – you’re looking at a cached version from a previous visit. It was fixed whilst I was in Pret at 9am!

  2. OT- Has anyone managed to use TrailFinders with their Amex offer?
    some dummy quote I got from them over phone was slightly more expensive than booking directly with Airline. Could this be due to higher booking class?

    • Re Trailfinders Booked two Air Canada flights to Toronto yesterday. They were the same price as booking direct with AC but about £50 dearer than using a broker – e.g. Travelup. Since the cost was £1200, paid using Amex with no CC charge and saved £150.

    • Bought gift vouchers in store that triggered the offer. Saved me moving a trip forward to take advantage of the deal.

    • Trailfinders has a booking fee, I paid £75 so discount was technically only £125

  3. I don’t know if they’re technically meant to let you on without a booking, but they’ve always let me on the Etihad bus to and from Dubai just by showing my Abu Dhabi boarding passes.

    • I did this over Christmas. Very handy.

      Also asked them to pick the car up at the drop off end of the journey and they did it for free, even though I was a smidge over 10 miles away from their depot.

    • I used this recently.

      The agent at the drop-off location wasn’t aware of the offer at all, and was a bit suss about why I’d only paid a pound so called up HQ to check. We ended up having a laugh about it, so all’s well that ends well! So be prepared for an odd look or two

      When picking up the car the agent did ask if I wanted something larger… I wasn’t fussed and just wanted to get going so didn’t get into this, but I assume they were offering a paid upgrade. I don’t know whether there’s any opportunity to talk your way into getting a better car for nowt. I suppose that would be dependent on what inventory needs to be moved where.

      The car I had was a basic small saloon with scant legroom (and probably headroom) in the back for adults… But it was fine for the two of us up front. Point being don’t count on getting anything larger!

    • I looked at this for the trip to the HfP party in December. Although my local depot was listed, the nearest I could get the offer was near Birmingham, which is 50 miles in the wrong direction.

    • Lady London says:

      I got absolutely shafted on the Hertz equivalent of this program which works internationally. An already expensive one way offered and accepted at £69 all in landed on my credit card at about £373.

      For some strange reason the receipt for the hire wasn’t loaded to be shown in the receipts part of my Hertz online account for me to see. It was only loaded after I commented I was checking repeatedly and not finding it when I picked up another car 2 weeks later.

      Thanks for the link to Europcar @xcalx I will gibe them a try. Who knows if Europcar treat me honestly unlike Hertz then I might shift my business to them ad well as giving Europcar a serious look for the professionals I book

  4. I will use the Miles & More offer for an upcoming Best Western stay. Between newspaper/mag subscriptions, Payback in Germany and the COOP in Switzerland I’ve built up a decent stash of M&M miles.

  5. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    Is LON-AUH at £325 so good when there’s plenty of sub-£300 LON-DXB?

    • Is there? I only really see what I get sent by the airlines and rarely see much at £295.

      • Yes! There has been a bit of a fare war going on for weeks – friends going in Feb were seeing sub-200 on Royal Brunei but went for a 510 rtn on BA WT+ via Travelup

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        Yup, plenty <£300 on QF/EK/Brunei. BA and VS around £310 and lots of indirect availability around £250-275 on AF/KL/TK. Availability more or less wide open. Clearly huge overcapacity on the route.

  6. At least that means BA’s stonking YQ IS included in the calculation- it varies with class.

  7. In theory excluding charges from calculation of compensation may be logical but in practice it will often be unfair to passengers given that airlines commonly play games with charges.

  8. Peter Taysum says:

    For uua I guess you’d just get the Avios back?

    • Assuming the flight is over 3500km that ruling indicates you’d actually be entitled to 75% of everything (less any fixed charges and fees) back, or if downgraded on one leg of a straight return 37.5% of the return, including:
      *The Avios paid for the upgrade
      *The non-taxes and fees cash fare pad for the class upgraded from
      *The ‘carrier imposed charges’ (i.e. fuel surcharge) which varies by class
      That means you’d be entitled to get less Avios back (only 75% of what you paid), but you’d almost certainly be more than compensated for that in the cash refund. Given you may well not have chosen to fly with BA in the base class had the UuA not been available I’d expect more than just a refund of the difference, which is presumably what the legislation seeks to recognise, though I’m sure there are instances where it would not achieve that on a very high business class cash fare for example.

    • For a scenario where a Lloyds upgrade voucher has been used on a redemption ticket, I would therefore expect 75% of the following for the sector:
      *The Avios paid for the base class
      *The ‘carrier imposed charges’ (i.e. fuel surcharge) which varies by class
      *The ‘value’ of the upgrade voucher

      Taking a WT+ to CW upgrade to New York, off peak which is downgraded one way back to WT+ as example that would be a return of:
      *19.5K avios (of the 52K avios paid for the return)
      *£79.48 (of the £289 carrier imposed charges)
      *Undefined but I’d suggest reasonable for it to be based on the avios saved, which would be 18K avios (of the 48K avios saved for the return)

      Based on that premise and scenario a total refund of 37.5K avios and £79.48. Probably considerably more than BA would offer up-front….

      If the same argument were successfully applied to a 2for1 voucher (including the value of the voucher = avios saved) the result would be the same for each person.

  9. OT – Android Pay and Uber seem to have enough revived the previous promo that they mentioned (just before Christmas) but then withdrew. Unfortunately this means it is now for a much shorter time period! For your next 10 journeys via Uber, if using Android Pay you’ll receive 50% off, up to a maximum of £5 per ride. Only stated requirement is to use the latest version of the Uber app.

  10. Thank you very much Rob for the information about Downgrades.

    I for one would welcome an ‘idiot’s guide to what your rights are if downgraded’. Specifically, can you refuse the downgrade and demand to be put on the next flight (or even with another carrier) in the original booking class, and if that means you are late to your destination whether that means any compensation/duty of care is due.

    Plus, what the rights are if downgraded on an Avios booking, including the 2-for-1 issue.

    Also, if your flight is cancelled and they tell you you need to be downgraded to go on the next flight, can you refuse and, if you do, are you entitled to compensation if the delay is significant enough?

    • +1: I’d like to see that too; I was interested in how Rob went from 3 downgrades and 1 offload (of his infant!) to getting back into CW…

      Good negotiation skills or knowing your rights?

      • I refused to sign the waiver disclaiming all liability against BA in return for getting the hotel voucher. They were stuck then and had little choice but to board us.

        BA was screwed anyway at that point once they realised they’d booked a 2-year old into a hotel on its own.

        Note that we these were cash tickets (for once) and my wife and I were both Silver at the time.

        • I’m slightly bemused as to how their system even allowed the situation with your then 2 year old to arise.

          • He wasn’t actually two – he was just a week short of being two. We had bought him a cash ticket, however, because you don’t carry a 103 week old kid on your lap for 7 hours. Because he was under 2 it was assumed he was a lap infant so he was not allocated a seat when the rest of us were downgraded. He was then automatically offloaded.

            What would have been interesting would have been the compensation situation if we had agreed to take him as a lap infant, since he would a) have been offloaded and b) still travelled!

          • 103 week ?

          • Oh yeah!

      • Both probably and I agree an article on this subject would be appreciated. No doubt it would generate some healthy debate

  11. Gin and Tonic Please says:

    OT – Amazon are doing a £10 off £50+ spend today only. Promo code is BIGTHANKS and he details are on their home page. Main thing is the products need to be sold by Amazon. Don’t think it’ll stack with the Amex MR offer (as it’s two promo codes) and can’t test it myself as I’ve already used the latter. Happy shopping, everyone!

    • Fortunately for me I had not used the AMEX MR offer yet, I confirm they do stack.

      • Same here, which offer do you access first to get them to stack? Tnx p

        • I entered the BIGTHANKS offer first, I saw £10 discount applied.

          I then remembered about the £15 offer and saw that my AMEX card was already linked and the ‘use Membership Reward’ was visible, so I then entered £0.01 there, and entered a 2nd discount code AMEX16SWP.

          The total discount was then updated to £25.

          This was for an item costing £70, so reduced down to £45.

  12. Virgin have also been doing sub £300 fares from London, bagged me a break in March for £298 each.

  13. A decent business price to DXB would be nice, when was the last BA luxury sale?

  14. Does this mean we can expect a longer wait for a harder Etihad sale?
    The Qatar one came just a little too early for me this time, plus I want to try Etihad.. perhaps to Perth. But I’ve seen etihad to Perth for 2k in the not so distant past, so 2.5k is a little too much. I know mayalsia are doing 1500… but I’d be prepared to fork out the extra 500 to fly etihad

    • I wouldn’t personally pay over £2000 for Australasia if I was flexible on dates and carrier. More deals will be along soon I’m sure although Qatar didn’t on the Travel Festival rates last year.

  15. the_real_a says:

    How does the APD work if you are downgraded as follows?

    Ticket is LHR to AMS to BKK (All in Business)
    But you are downgraded LHR (economy) to AMS to BKK (Business)

    Do you pay UK passenger duty as an economy or business rate?

    • the real harry1 says:

      good question – obviously you should get some money back

      O/T bit chipper as just did another Ukraine booking saving £5, you have to fiddle around a bit but not difficult :)

      plus actually got my wife to organise summer flights about 3 months earlier than last year!

      #2 OUT to our place in the sun was under £90 HBO (no redemptions available) on 25th August (Friday) – mustn’t grumble lol

      • The mouse slips every time doesn’t it?
        Just completed mattress run 1/2 for Accelerate. Even though I’m ‘doubling up’, can’t decide if it’s worth the chew on

    • Interesting…. I’d always assumed that APD on premium economy tickets was charged at economy rates. It isn’t – it’s charged at the business rate, or at least that’s how BA is charging it on a dummy booking.

      That aside, in your example you should at least be refunded the difference. After all you traveled in economy, the airline would presumably report it as such and pay the tax at that rate so it’s entirely reasonable that they pass it onto the customer at that rate. The judgment on the 2016 case, so far as I can work out, appears to imply that as it is not a charge levied by the airline but an associated cost “that is not an intrinsic part of that flight” that’s all you could expect back on the APD, not 75% of the business rate.

      • There are only 2 APD rates – economy and everything else.

      • You’re not allowed to split APD per flight like that – it’s your final destination and if any of it is in anything other than economy that counts (see my fuller post below for more details)

    • Sadly you’re not due anything back. You’ve still got the long-haul flight in business, and that is what determines your APD liability. They actually specifically address this in the APD regs…

      3.1.5 Passengers on connecting flights
      A passenger who has a ticket is not a chargeable passenger on the second or subsequent flight of his journey if that flight and the previous flight are connected. Different criteria govern whether the second or subsequent flight on a journey may be treated as connected, depending on whether that flight is to a domestic or international destination. These rules can be found in section 4.

      Where a passenger travels in the lowest class of travel on a flight from a UK airport that subsequently connects (see provisions outlined above and in section 4) to a flight where they are not in the lowest class of travel, then the standard rate of APD will apply.

      For example:

      Where a passenger takes and connects to duty is payable at
      Economy class flight to Paris ‘Business’ class flight to New York Standard rate (Band B)
      (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/excise-notice-550-air-passenger-duty/excise-notice-550-air-passenger-duty)

      If you break your journey in AMS then it should reprice it though – certainly a quick Matrix search reveals LHR-AMS-(>24h stopover)-BKK – £26

  16. Lady London says:

    Comparing Etihad A380 First Class with Emirates First Class? Is that called ‘ taking one for the team’

  17. I was about to book LHR to SYD with Malaysia direct for just under 2k each which I thought was a good price, so was very pleased to read your Expedia offer, now booked with 2 nights in a five star hotel for £1680 each!
    Thanks

  18. Require job