Reader Question: XiamenAir Business To Economy Involuntarily Downgrade Compensation?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a question about involuntarily downgrade on a XiamenAir flight from Bangkok to Xiamen and difficulty dealing with the Chinese airline getting compensated for it.


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Here’s the email from the reader:

I recently returned from a round-trip from Los Angeles to Bangkok via Xiamen  airlines. I booked using Capital One rewards miles for all business class. On the leg from Xiamen to Bangkok, both of us traveling together were downgraded to economy. We were not offered any sort of compensation At the airport and when I asked about taking the later flight was told that was not possible.

Upon return and after much conversation with the airline, as they had changed all of our return flights to economy, As well as conversations with capital one, The airline offered compensation of $73 per person. This was going to be provided in Chinese currency and provided by the airport.

I don’t think that is adequate compensation, as the difference between a coach and business class flight between Bangkok and Xiamen is between $212 and $360 According to Google flights.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts or ideas I can also send documentation.

Here’s possible roughly price:




I assume that the reader here used Capital One’s “funny money” to book a revenue fare on XiamentAir’s business class from Los Angeles to Bangkok and back. It might have been negotiated or consolidator fare at a lower price than published ones. Difficult to tell but shouldn’t make any difference.

The airline probably calculated prorated downgrade value for that one segment. It wouldn’t surprise me considering the length of the long-haul flights that the value of the short-haul segment even in business is rather low.

Not sure why the airline had downgrade the return segments (if I understood the email correctly) but glad that the reader was able to get those fixed.

The reader could open a complaint with U.S. Department of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection Unit (do it here). It is affected by the US government shutdown and the complaints are not processed until the government is reopened.


Unfortunately, there is very little consumer protection in Thailand and with the Chinese airlines in general. Airlines usually target passengers for downgrades that they expect to create the least fuss at the airport.

I would start with the DOT complaint and see what the airline replies. It will probably take some time to hear back because these won’t get start processing before the US government has been reopened.