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Options on overbooked flight

  • Soso


    I just got bumped from my Premium reward flight from New York to Heathrow due to overbooking. They only have availabilities that make me miss work with a layover and they’re saying that apart from making me fly a day after (which I’ll have to pay for myself)- they can’t do anything except refunding me. Do I have any other options ? Like perhaps asking for a downgrade ?

    Thanks !


    So you’ve been denied boarding the Virgin VS26 which departed at 08:15 New York time today?

    There are still 5 Virgin flights due to depart JFK today with Business seats, although they won’t get you in until tomorrow morning rather than this evening UK time. So it seems pointless to wait until the morning departure tomorrow.

    Deep breath, and go back and talk to someone sensible at Virgin check in.


    Yes VS4 has plenty of seats in all classes, you’ll get in at 6.30am. You’ll be due compensation for the invol denied boarding


    Oh sorry, I forgot to re-read. The flight is in two weeks and is from Miami (I arrive in New York-leave from Miami). They cancelled my initial flight from Miami to heathrow awhile back and now there’s only 1 flight that day.
    Sorry for the confusion !


    I’m not sure exactly what day you’re flying

    One option is to do nothing for a few days, someone might change flight and a seat open up

    Fly back the next day and submit a claim for the hotel under your right to be transported in comparable conditions (which you’d argue is a direct flight in Upper Class) .

    Fly with a connection – if you want First Class in the US then there are limited options but looks like there are some flights with seats via JFK or DTW . You’d need to leave earlier to do this though but would arrive back at LHR roughly same times as MIA direct


    So I guess I can’t ask to fly with a downgrade then ?


    They’ve obviously given you 2 weeks notice to avoid having to pay compo. They are still obliged to get you to your destination under comparable conditions so find alternative flights which suit you then give Virgin a call and ask to be rebooked onto one of them.
    There’s nothing to stop you asking to be downgraded, but I’m assuming they would have simply downgraded you if there was space in another cabin rather than just cancelling your booking altogether. It’s absolutely not true that you have pay for a new flight, or accept a refund. Definitely don’t accept the refund as that then ends their obligation to you.


    Thank you, that was my understanding as well ! Second time I’m having issues with virgin that change my flight without warning due to overbooking ! Makes me hesitant flying with them on destination where they dont have a large number of flights !

    Lady London

    dont ask for a downgrade as that makes it voluntary thus losing you any compensation


    If you’re not getting anywhere, email clearly stating what has happened and what you’d like them to do (after researching the options yourself in line with the suggestions above).

    If you can find something that works with Virgin/Delta/Air France/KLM you’ll probably find it easier. BA and American both offer direct services though I suspect they will strongly resist that.

    There’s a whole document here as to the CAA’s view on acceptable options:

    Their Executive team are very good at sorting things out if you’re getting a “Computer says no” response from customer services contrary to your EC261 rights.


    dont ask for a downgrade as that makes it voluntary thus losing you any compensation

    On the assumption that @Soso was notified > 2 weeks before there is no compensation for delay at least (not sure about downgrade off the top of my head, but they’re currently not offering that – maybe deliberately).

    Lady London

    There is compensation for downgrade that has nothing to so with time ahead notified but the key thing to retain the right to compensation, or more properly called your right to a reimbursement for downgrade that can reach 70% refund of what you paid for your flight … the key thing is that the downgrade must be involuntary.

    Asking for a downgrade means it becomea voluntary so bye bye compo.

    Time ahead notified matters for cancellations but not fot downgrade.


    @Soso isn’t being downgraded though, they are being kicked off the flight altogether. It’s either ask for a downgrade or try to get booked on a different flight. It sounds as though the flight is completely booked with no alternative seating option, so re-routing is the only alternative.


    Incidentally, @Soso, how do you know about the overbooking, did they tell you this on the phone? I’ve never heard of that happening so far out, they usually wait until departure in case of no-shows freeing up seats.


    I believe the flight has been cancelled and @Soso hasn’t rebooked yet, rather than being bumped off the remaining (sold out in UC) flight as you are right @NorthernLass that likely wouldn’t be happening yet

    I don’t see why you couldn’t ask to go in PE but you’d only get a refund of your miles difference at this stage


    I think @Soso was booked in PE (assuming that’s what they meant by ‘Premium’), so the downgrade would presumably be to economy. I would expect the refund to cover the difference in Virgin points plus the difference in taxes and fees.

    They may try to insist that is only possible if there is redemption availability in the lower class, although I’ve had success in having their booking team force open redemption availability where they changed the days of the week on which a flight was operating and I wanted to be moved to the day before my original booking rather than their default response to move me back a day.

    OTOH, shifting a redemption onto a Delta flight where they’d cancelled the same-day Virgin flight (same route) required Exec Team intervention.


    From what I could see in expertflyer there aren’t any sold out flights in PE over the next few weeks. So in that case if they’re saying you need redemption availability then call again/speak to a supervisor


    Thank you all for all the information. I’m learning a lot !

    Basically i had an initial flight in Premium Economy from Miami to Heathrow which (I think) got cancelled. They pushed me to another flight later in the day, so no biggie. Now, i got bumped from the flight, and they gave me an earlier flight with 4 hours layover that i can’t even make and a later one would make me lose some precious holiday. I assumed that I got bumped from the flight because of overbooking because i tried to look and no cash flights were available in premium or Upper (which would make sense given the earlier flight got cancelled). The customer service also confirmed over the phone that it was the case with a small “yes”. I tried to get upgraded using a voucher on my account but don’t think they have any seats at all.

    Now, because it’s more than 14 days, and they did offer me a re-routing (though I can’t do it) i don’t think i can do anything apart from them downgrading me. I would love to get compensation (even with points) but pretty hard to ask for compensation while pretending it’s involuntarily…

    It’s pretty annoying because i love Virgin but it’s the second time they’ve done this to me in the last 12 months (and I’ve flown 3 times).


    Sounds like you’re constrained, but definitely worth looking to see if there are options that work better for you that don’t involve a four hour connection and then ask them if they will reroute you accordingly.

    Virgin’s website would be a good place to start as that will offer connection options with airlines that they are more likely to readily agree to.

    It’s not simply a case of accepting the alternate arrangements they’ve proposed or nothing. If you can find something that works better for you then don’t be afraid to ask for it, and escalate if necessary. The situation is as a result of schedule changes that they have made / their overbooking so don’t feel that you’re being difficult by asking them to facilitate something works better for you – even if that means an email to the exec team.

    Also have a read of the CAA document I linked above to see what you’re likely to get by pushing.

    If you do ask for a downgrade and there are seats available you should at least get a partial refund so that you only pay for an economy redemption.

    As I noted above I’ve had a couple of issues as a result of Virgin schedule changes in the past 18 months and both were ultimately addressed in the way I requested, not as they originally rebooked me.


    Unusual to get bumped from a flight this far in advance. Did you need to accept the original rerouting and did not?

    If you’re really constrained then you’d need to take the flight in economy but likely only get a difference in points I think.

    I do often find at this time of year flights in PE are full and economy rather empty (as corporate travellers up front are on the move but not the holidaymakers down the back) so it might not be a bad option anyway. Personally I wouldn’t do a long connection just for PE


    Thank you but yeah think downgrade is my only viable option – though if I can convince my boss to let me WFH, I’d be able to enjoy the Super Bowl there ! I was fine with the first cancellation and actually tried to book my seat, but couldn’t book it so had an inkling of what was about to happen 😅.
    Will try to reach out to the contact given to see my options and will post the conclusion if anybody find themselves in similar situation !


    Just wanted to post an update. After contacting the executive team, they managed to find me a seat on that flight ! So a bit stressful but it all worked out in the end !

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