[Personal Share] - How Qantas downgraded our Classic Reward flight bookings

Qantas are very keen to extol the virtues of it’s Frequent flyer program and are happy to boast about the profits made by it, they are also very keen to treat the bookings made using the program as little more important than staff travel seats.
Three weeks ago my wife embarked on our long awaited holiday to the USA. I am 65 and was treated for cancer last year and this was in a way a welcome break allied with my wife’s long service leave.
We booked our rewards seats from PER to LAX via Brisbane in business class to LA months and months before we left.
We were issued boarding passes at Perth airport for our flights to Brisbane and also for the second leg to LAX
Whilst in the lounge in Brisbane we were informed that my wife would have to be moved to premium economy. We were first told an out and out untruth that there had been an aircraft change but the real reason was that Qantas had a more important passenger than a mere FF booked seat.
Despite our protestations we were told it was take it or leave it.
I think all parties in the Qantas FF program should be aware of the way Qantas treat their Frequent Flyers and I shall make it my business to let anyone I can know how we are treated
It was a disgusting way to be treated and I have no confidence in the program at all going forward.

Hi @qprsludger,

I can understand your bitter disappointment. I’d be bitterly disappointed too, if I were in your position, and when the same thing happens to me or my wife – as one day, inevitably, it will – I will be bitterly disappointed myself.

I have to come clean and admit, though, that I have been on the other side: the beneficiary of a passenger getting bumped off a flight at my request. Here’s what happened.

It was just before Christmas 2018. I arrived, with my elderly mother, at Sydney airport to catch a Virgin Australia domestic flight for an interstate family Christmas gathering. Flights around Australia had been thrown into chaos at the time by some extreme weather events in various capital cities. We waited at the airport for many hours while our flight was delayed again and again. Eventually, just before the 11pm curfew, our flight was cancelled and we were told to come back again tomorrow.

Early the next day I discovered that my elderly mother and I had been rebooked – onto separate flights!

I called Virgin but gave up after being on hold for two hours. I sent them a Facebook message and they replied that there was nothing they could do. Eventually we turned up to the airport – still on separate flights – and I begged the Virgin customer service person to put my aged mother and me on the same flight.

Within five minutes, she had. I commented on how easy it had been in the end. She replied that the flight we were on was now “overbooked by four passengers”. I then realised that, given the crowds and the cancellations, my request had almost certainly (and inadvertently) resulted in a booked passenger being bumped off our flight.

Do I feel gut-wrenchingly sorry for the passenger we bumped off? Yes. Would I do the same thing again? Definitely. What would you have done if you were in the same situation?


  • It’s horrendously difficult to work out whether the bumped passenger or the person who replaces them is more, or less, “worthy” of the seat on the flight.
  • If you live long enough, and fly often enough, it’s inevitable that at some stage you’ll be bumped off a flight (or downgraded). But it’s equally likely that at some stage you’ll be the beneficiary of someone else being bumped.
  • Much as I dislike Qantas (I almost always fly Virgin), the problem isn’t Qantas or their FF programme. It’s the airlines’ practice of overbooking. And they all do it.

But I understand that none of this lessens your bitter disappointment. It wouldn’t lessen mine either, if I were in your situation.

TBH it never happened to me, but if it was, especially when paying for J - it will be my last flight with the airline.

What I would expect from an airline to do, is to offer worthy compensation to the passenger who is bumped off, accommodation, upgrade, vouchers, points etc etc.

Thanks for sharing your story.

Did Qantas offer to fly your wife on another flight in business class?