American Airlines Paid Me To Downgrade! Did I Actually Deserve Compensation?

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AA Downgrade Compensation

AA Downgrade Compensation

As many of you know I was recently gifted American Airlines Executive Platinum status as a one time gift from Hyatt. I have had Executive Platinum status before through various matches and promos along with varying other levels of AAdvantage status over the years. Something happened to me though that I am still a little (pleasantly) surprised about.

One of the biggest changes to Executive Platinum status over the past couple of years has been the ability to get upgraded on awards. The last time I held this status awards weren’t eligible, so this has been kind of fun. Especially with the advent of “Web Specials” which make lower demand routes cheaper than they used to be.

A NOLA Surprise

On my recent trip to head out to New Orleans for our massive miles/points meetup, something interesting happened to me. I was booked on a 5K one-way award with the last flight being DFW-BTR. I found Baton Rouge to be a preferable airport to fly into given my options from Las Vegas for the weekend. At 5K the cost was right too!

Shortly after booking, the DFW-BTR segment was upgraded to First Class! Unfortunately this upgrade wouldn’t stick, but it is good news (sort of). While waiting at the airport I got a call from AA customer service stating that there had been an equipment swap and would I be willing to sit in economy in exchange for a $300 voucher or 10,000 AAdvantage miles?

Did I Deserve Compensation?

The flight from DFW-BTR is only 48 minutes and First Class on a regional jet isn’t exactly luxury so of course I took the voucher! But that got me wondering. Why didn’t AA just downgrade me back without compensation considering I was upgraded for free? This happens to others fairly often with delays, etc. so I really am not sure why I was offered a voucher.

AA Downgrade Compensation
My voucher came via email shortly after I spoke with AA customer service on the phone.

The Equipment Swap Explained

At first I was confused about the equipment swap excuse I was given since the plane type was the same, but it turns out AA (regional carriers) flies 4 different versions of the CRJ700. Three versions of the plane are equipped with 9 First Class seats while one version only has 6. It appears my flight was switched from a 9 F seat plane to a 6 seat version. A $300 switch in my favor.

A Little More Drama…DelAAyed

As I boarded the plane to Dallas for my connecting flight to Baton Rouge I felt great with my new fat $300 voucher in hand. Unfortunately some delays would mean I would land in Dallas with 8 minutes to switch terminals and get to my flight before the door closed. Luckily I know DFW fairly well and after a bit of running I made it to the door just as they were going to close out the flight. My seat was just one row behind First Class. Definitely worth the $300 voucher for the downgrade!

AA Downgrade Compensation
I ended up in the first row of economy for the 48 minute flight.

AA Downgrade Compensation – Bottom Line

This was definitely a cool situation that worked in my favor and is another “win” following my successful JFK departure a few weeks ago. AA’s lack of “on-time” performance did cause a near miss, but in the end I paid 5K miles to get from Las Vegas to Baton Rouge and pocketed $300 in credit towards future flights as well. Not bad.

Do you think AA owed me compensation or were they just being overly generous? Have you ever been upgraded and then downgraded back to economy without AA downgrade compensation? Share your story below!


  1. I was upgraded to 1st on Dec 1 ( Sunday after Thanksgiving) for a short ROC to ORD , on way to CDG. Equipment change so they automatically sent me a $300 voucher. Then the actual flight was back to the original equipment so, after showing my original 1st class boarding pass, printed at home, the attendants had me move to the empty 1st class seat. So I got 1st class and the $300!


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