Spacious seats, complimentary cocktails, and priority boarding are among the perks of flying first class, but just because you’ve upgraded your ticket doesn’t mean you’ll actually end up traveling in style. Airlines can and do bump passengers from their premium seats, and they’re perfectly within their rights to do so.
“Generally speaking, when you purchase a ticket, an airline is obligated to transport you from Point A to Point B, with no guarantees about the type of plane or amenities offered onboard,” The Points Guy explains. While you might be entitled to some compensation if your seat is downgraded, you’re otherwise at the mercy of the airline.
Unfortunately, downgrades can happen to anyone. Airlines have different systems for deciding who loses their first class seat when someone has to be bumped. In some cases, it might be the last person who checks in for a flight, while in others, it might be the person who booked an award ticket. But whether you’re an elite flyer or have just managed to snag an upgrade, being bumped to a lower-class cabin stings. And often, it’s completely out of your control. Here are five situations that can get you booted from first class.
1. You cause a problem
Whether you’re a first class or economy class passenger, an airline can kick you off a flight if you’re disruptive, disobeying flight crew instructions, or they suspect you’re a threat. People have been kicked off flights because they had a peanut allergy, were wearing an offensive shirt, or were speaking Arabic. Flight attendants and pilots have broad discretion to remove almost anyone from the plane if they think it’s appropriate, and your first-class ticket won’t protect you. Even celebrities like Alec Baldwin and Ivana Trump have been given the heave-ho for behaving badly.