Reader Question: British Airways Downgrade Compensation On AA Award Ticket?


A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a question about British Airways downgrade compensation on American Airlines issued award ticket.

Readers are encouraged to send us questions, comments, or opinions by email, FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. We’ll try to cover them here several times a week.

You can access BA here and UK Government’s page for UK 261 here.

Message From The Reader:

I booked a business class ticket LHR-IAD on BA using 57.5K AA mies+$672.

At check-in they downgraded me to premium economy because they were oversold.

When I complained, they offered me $200 compensation. If I had booked a premium economy ticket, it would have cost 40K miles+$481 tax.

So they anyway owe me $191 for tax overpayment and the $200 is hardly “compensation.” I’ve responded to BA telling them this. (And will take up the miles refund with AA.)

Realistically speaking, how much compensation should I expect from BA not counting the $191 refund they should give?

The reader is NOT due a refund from AA, who issues the ticket, but a significant downgrade compensation from BA.

The EC 261/2004 no longer applies to flights departing from the UK on non-community carriers, but they have UK261 regulation (what happened to removing all EU laws?).

UK261 Downgrade Compensation:

Does UK law apply to your flight?

Under UK law, you have important legal rights on many flights to, from or within the UK. The information on this page is only relevant to flights covered by UK law. To be covered, your flight must be either:

  • departing from an airport in the UK on any airline, or
  • arriving at an airport in the UK on an EU or UK airline; or
  • arriving at an airport in the EU on a UK airline.

You can check if UK law applies to your flight by viewing this document explaining how your entitlement changes dependent on specific criteria.

If your airline downgrades you to a lower class than the one you booked (for instance, economy instead of business), you are entitled to reimbursement of a percentage of the price for the flight on which you were downgraded.

The table below shows how this is calculated:

Length of journey Reimbursement
Up to 1500km 30% of the flight price
1500-3500km 50% of the flight price
More than 3500km 75% of the flight price

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

LHR-IAD Flight Lenght:

British Airways, not American, is required by law to refund 75% of the fare paid back to the passenger, which is definitely much more than $200.

There is also a tax refund due to flying in the premium economy instead of the business, and BA is also required to refund 75% of their carrier surcharge.

How to assign a cash value for the 57,500 AA miles?

The price of 57,500 miles, if purchased from AA today, is $1622 and 75% of this is $1,217.

The reader is due compensation of $1,217, a partial tax refund due to the lower cabin, and a 75% refund of the carrier surcharge.

We are looking at roughly $1,500 in required compensation per UK law.


The reader should NOT accept any other compensation than the one outlined above. It is BA’s, not AA’s, responsibility to deal with the downgrade mess.

British Airways should have informed the reader about their rights per UK261, but they, on purpose, did not.

The compensation that European airlines and airline’s on flights ex-Europe are required to pay for downgrades is significant. They all want to misinform, lie, obfuscate, and deny valid claims to save money.

The reader can raise their case with the DOT in the United States and CEDR and MCOL in the UK to get BA to pay their valid claim.

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