Reader Question: KLM Amsterdam – Hong Kong Upgrade For Cash And Then Double Downgrade


A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email with a question about KLM paid upgrade to business class that was then followed by two category downgrade to basic economy due to irregular operations.

Reader Question KLM

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Here’s the email from the reader:

As I regular reader of your Newsletter, I would like to ask you for advice how I could handle my problem.

As a Flying Blue Platinum member, I booked the flights from Berlin to Hong Kong via Amsterdam on August 26th.

For both flights, I made a reservation for Economy Comfort seats.

After arrival in Amsterdam I paid EUR699 for an upgrade to Business Class.

Because of poor weather conditions the flight to Hong Kong was cancelled after several hours of delay.

After some hours of discussion with the ground staff and supervisors I’ve been informed that for next day’s flight to Hong Kong all Business Class and Economy Comfort seats were booked already.

If I would wait for two days I could have an Economy Comfort seat and vouchers for two nights in Amsterdam.

I agreed and got a voucher for the Hilton Airport hotel, which I had to leave the next morning and go to the Park Plaza Hotel for the next night. Only the price for the transfer to this hotel was EUR26.

After checking the KLM website, I found that I’ve been booked on a regular Economy Class seat 22C (KLM wrote Business Class) but not Economy Comfort.

My mails to KLM were not replied, but this is not unusual. I know this practice from the past already, when I had claims or questions regarding lost luggage etc.

Anyway, on Monday August 27th I went to the airport early and contacted several KLM staff with my problem, but in vain. Not anybody, even not the staff in the lounge was able to help me in this case.

After boarding, I’ve been told by two flight attendants, that several Economy Comfort seats were still available.

My request to have one of these seats was refused by another flight attendant. To make this matter even more unpleasant to me was that my seat neighbor was offered an upgrade to Economy Comfort, after my discussion with the flight staff.

I feel very unsatisfied with the KLM service, and how they treat their passengers.

Sadly, I still have two flights booked with KLM during the next months, but I will definitively avoid flying with KLM after this experience furthermore.

No alternate flights with other airlines to Hong Kong or with KLM to GungZhou or XiaMen with KLM were offered. The service, especially to gain information or replies to mails via their website is too poor.

John, could you please advise what to do? There was no reply from KLM to my previous mails, today I contacted them again.

How can I push KLM to refund the EUR699, I’ve paid for Business Class?

What can I claim as compensation for the two days in Amsterdam and the refuse to have an available Economy Comfort seat which is guaranteed for Flying Blue Platinum members?

This truly is a a tricky situation and I don’t believe that KLM would have done everything they should under the EC 261/2004 regulation

When the reader purchased the upgrade to the business class, they became confirmed passenger in that class of service and no longer “just an upgrade”.

KLM should have rebooked the passenger in business class on other airline to his final destination that appears to be Hong Kong. It doesn’t matter even if the cancellation would have been weather related.

Passenger had confirmed reservation for Economy Comfort from where he basically was downgraded and thus eligible for 75% refund. I would, however, request refund of the paid upgrade price first and then the 75% refund of the reminding amount.

Because this delay was weather related the delay compensation of 600 euros doesn’t kick in.

As the reader’s trip started in Germany, he could contact söp that handles disputes between airlines and passengers. The website where he can file the case can be accesses here. I couldn’t pull up the information if KLM participates their dispute process.

If they don’t, the reader can contact the national enforcement body of the EC 261/2004 regulation:

Download (PDF, 220KB)


It is really unfortunate that some of the European airlines don’t do what they are required under the EC 261/2004 and then the passenger must get regulator involved. Airlines know that 99% of the traveling public won’t do this.

I hope that the reader will get the sop or the national enforcement body involved and make KLM pay for their inability to follow the European wide air passenger rights regulation.

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