Forced out of overbooked Cathay Pacific business class

16 replies


Member since 16 May 2018

Total posts 1

Hi all,

Long time lurker, first time poster. I have travelled on business class for a while now (mostly awards), and today for the first time I realised business class can be overbooked.

Apparently it was because a captain was sick, and he claimed he is too unwell to sit in an economy seat (flight is only 90 mins long). There are only 8 seats on the Cathay Dragon flight, and all of them are booked.

When I was dropping off my luggage (already checked in online), they offered me $50 to downgrade. They said it was because I was only passenger who booked under award ticket, and I was only entitled to that amount. I said no.

Cathay staff once again approached me when I was in the lounge. This time, they offered a much more plausible offer of the difference between business and economy seats (around $300) because I already checked in online. I accepted (well I thought I had little choice).

Moral of the story: Always check in online ahead of time.

Have you guys experienced anything like this? Do you guys consider this offer to be decent? Should I try to push some more compensation with customer service? Thanks for reading this post, quite a long one.


Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

Member since 14 Jun 2017

Total posts 62

Did you get your points back?

John Phelan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 28 Oct 2011

Total posts 261

Almost all airlines overbook, and they do it in all classes. Emirates is probably the most notorious here - when I was checking in at DXB, I was told they had overbooked the aircraft by more than 30 people!!

It can be a hard spot to be in, but they really should ask ALL the passengers who would like to either change flights/days of travel, or accept some form of compensation to be downgraded - this idea that some of them have that they just target one passenger (because they're on an award ticket, or they're a solo traveller, etc) sucks. I was once told I "had been selected to be downgraded"!!!


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 25 Feb 2016

Total posts 26

I was about to be kicked out of QR business on an award ticket once. I arrived at the airport to be told I was being downgraded. The flight which was always an A330 had been downgraded to an A321 that day and there was a reduced number of J seats.

Because we were booked on an award ticket we were one of the first to be downgraded. No compensation offered and they told me to take up the points issue with Qantas directly who I booked through.

However I kindly pointed out that my wife was pregnant (she was but only early days so you couldn't tell) and to QR's credit they let us stay in Business and bumped someone else.

Moral of my story - always travel with pregnant lady:)


Member since 08 Aug 2017

Total posts 46

I had an experience with Qantas out of San Francisco offering me a downgrade form PE with $500 partial refund and a whole row of 4 seats in economy. I declined since the refund would go to my employer and someone would undoubtedly have tried to take one of the other 4 seats after take off and I am not the kind of guy who’d put up a fight to keep the 4. Qantas then offered me a upgrade for the following day and to pay the hotel. I declined that too. I presume they kept offering until someone accepted. That seemed to me to be a good way to manage a downgrade situation.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 02 Jul 2011

Total posts 835

I'd say $300 for a 90min flight is generous.

I also suspect checking in online wouldn't have helped, they can still downgrade after that.

In any event you've accepted the offer.


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 01 Mar 2012

Total posts 203

Its a reason why I don't fly on award bookings for work. I prefer to pay for J and then use the points for family trips or for surprises trips for friends.


Member since 10 Jul 2017

Total posts 86

lucky you didnt get dragged off the plane like our american companions


Member since 04 May 2018

Total posts 13

A relative of mine booked for his family 5 business class tickets with Cathay HKG - MEL, they downgraded 3 of them to economy as they overbooked the flight. When he arrived in Melbourne they offered him 6000 AUD in cash and he refused as they wanted him to sign a waiver. He ended up receiving a full refund on the 3 downgraded seats a few weeks later,

I’ve flown business class over 300 times and have never been downgraded, only upgraded to first on occasion.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 18 Oct 2012

Total posts 13

There are times when your operating aircraft becomes un

-serviceable and no replacement available . ( it happens) Then i take what i i can get to get home, however if the flight is still operating well, Ive heard of full fares being of loaded depending on the fare , yes they all overbook 5-10% hoping for no shows etc

Last editedby mb68 at May 17, 2018, 12:29 PM.


Member since 14 Oct 2016

Total posts 4

Cathay have done it to me for F down to J on regional flights on numerous occasions. I've always been given the one way fare difference in cash, you can then refund the actual fare difference on your ticket in $ or points which will get you back anything from something to nothing depending on the fare basis to start!


Member since 17 Nov 2016

Total posts 17

CX overbook J quite a lot. When you make your booking, ensure you have seat allocated even if it's not your preferred seat as they bump passengers with no seat allocation first. US airlines do the same but make sure you have a seat allocated for all flights where possible.


Member since 06 Jan 2016

Total posts 29

Was downgraded from J to Y on a silk air flight SIN to Chennai some years back. Initially only offered the fare difference. I pushed a bit and got that, 500 sgd cash, and hotel/transport/meal because I was willing to fly the next morning in back in J. Thought that was quite a win.

They had a standardized waiver form for the cash compensation, so that was probably a go to (maybe legislated?) move for them.


Member since 19 Mar 2016

Total posts 5

Some time ago, I was asked on check-in if I would be willing to downgrade on a CX HKG-CGK flight. I politely declined, collected my J class boarding pass, and proceeded to the lounge. When I arrived at the lounge, they again asked if I would be willing to downgrade, and I said no, saying that there's probably only middle seats in the last row left. They replied I would be have the seat next to me blocked (window seat on an A330, 2-4-2 configuration), and they would still give me the J class meal. The compensation for the downgrade was $7,600 HKD (~$1,000 USD / $1,300 AUD) cash. I happily accepted that offer.

On board the flight, the crew fussed over me so much, it was almost embarrassing. I had barely boarded when the purser brought me a glass of champagne and took my meal order - which she delivered personally later in the flight. Essentially, I had business class service in two economy seats. Given that it was a 4-1/2 hour daytime flight it was no great hardship.

That is still only my second best bumping experience, but that was from economy, so a topic for a different thread! ;-)


Member since 25 Nov 2016

Total posts 2

Since you mentioned the story, I was once asked to move away from my window bulkhead seat so that two off-duty pilots of KA can sit together.

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