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KLM Flight Downgrade Compensation

Airline downgrade compensation in the EU.

Are you eligible to it? How much can you claim? What are the rules?

What if you book a first class ticket, but then… at the airport you learn, that you’ll have to fly in business class or economy? What if you book a business class ticket, and later you are asked to fly in economy instead? There are very specific rules regarding that. And, yes, you can get compensation from KLM. This applies to all KLM flights to and from Europe.

Compensation has to be offered right on the spot. 

1. KLM / Air France Downgrade Compensation

In the EU air passenger rights are strictly regulated.

If you are downgraded, you can get flight downgrade compensation. The amounts of involuntary downgrade compensation you can get from your airline are between 30 to 75% of the price of the ticket, depending from the distance of your flight. It doesn’t affect your KLM baggage allowance. It isn’t your fault after all. .

With Air France–KLM it applies to all their flights from and to Europe.

With non-EU airlines it applies only to flights from Europe.

By Europe and EU here on this page we mean all EU Member States, the United Kingdom (UK), Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Mayotte, Saint Martin (French Antilles), the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

All of this is possible thanks to Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. 

2. How to Claim This Flight Downgrade Compensation?

Flight downgrade compensation should be paid on spot.

So, in a normal situation you shouldn’t have to do anything.

If that hasn’t happened, make sure to contact KLM and file a claim. Because otherwise, if you do nothing, KLM will do the same. Nothing. Remember that this compensation should be paid to your bank account. You don’t have to accept any coupons or vouchers. In case of any issues, refer to Regulation (EC) No 261/2004.

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Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

3. How Much Can You Claim?

The compensation amounts are regulated by the EU.

Here is how you can calculate your KLM compensation:

  • 30%, if the distance of your flight is up to 1500 kilometres,
  • 50%, if the distance of your flight is between 1500 – 3500 kilometres,
  • 75%, if the distance of your flight is more than 3500 kilometres.

These percentages are of the price you paid for your flight.

EU and Non-EU Airlines

What if you fly with Qatar Airways or Turkish Airlines, not KLM?

In these situations all of this apply only to flights departing from Europe.

With European airlines, these rules apply to all commercial flights both from and to Europe. If you are flying with a non-EU airline, like Turkish Airlines or Qatar Airways, these rules apply only to their flights from Europe, but not the other way around. In the rest of the situations you’ll have to rely on the local laws of the country you are flying from and airline policies regarding downgrading.

Frequently Asked Questions

What about upgrades?

Let’s assume there are no more free seats in the economy, and you’re offered a seat in the business. That’s ok, but you should remember, that the airline may not request any supplementary payment for this upgrade.

It’s just an involuntary KLM upgrade.

EU – Non-EU Flights, Tourists

I’m flying to the EU from Asia / Americas / Africa. Can I get compensation?

If you’re flying with KLM then yes, you can.

KLM is an airline registered in the EU, and in this case EU regulations apply to all its flights to and from Europe. If you’re flying with a non-EU airline, it applies only to flights departing from Europe.

I’m flying from the EU to Asia / Americas / Africa? Can I get compensation?

Yes, even if it’s a non-EU airline.

I am not a European. Can I apply for compensation?

Yes, you can. 

Any national can apply for KLM flight delay compensation. In the European Union these rules are the same for everyone — tourists from overseas and Europeans alike.

Do you still have questions about KLM compensation policies? Ask in the comments.

Featured photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

18 thoughts on “KLM Flight Downgrade Compensation”

    1. For an accurate response, we would need to have more details (original itinerary, new itinerary). Did the distance really change? If it’s a connecting flight, no matter where and how many times it stops, the distance stays the same. Because according to Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, the distance is calculated only between the airport of departure and the airport of arrival.

      For this matter, London – Paris – Dubai is the same as London – Paris – Amsterdam – Oslo – Dubai or London – Dubai.

  1. I have just been informed that the first leg of my flight as been cancel the flight is Newcastle to Paris to Seattle this was booked with KLM and the flight carrier was Air France I have booked Premier Economy.
    I have been in touch with KLM and they have offered to rebook me from Newcastle to Amsterdam to Seattle but they say the flight does not have Premier Economy and therefore I will have to travel economy can I claim compensation for this downgrade.

    1. Hi Michael, yes you can claim (in your case you can ask for 75 % of the price of the ticket).

      Here’s an excerpt from the Regulation EC261 that you can refer to:

      Article 10

      Upgrading and downgrading

      1. If an operating air carrier places a passenger in a class higher than that for which the ticket was purchased, it may not request any supplementary payment.

      2. If an operating air carrier places a passenger in a class lower than that for which the ticket was purchased, it shall within seven days, by the means provided for in Article 7(3), reimburse

      (a) 30 % of the price of the ticket for all flights of 1500 kilometres or less, or

      (b) 50 % of the price of the ticket for all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometres, except flights between the European territory of the Member States and the French overseas departments, and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres, or

      (c) 75 % of the price of the ticket for all flights not falling under (a) or (b), including flights between the European territory of the Member States and the French overseas departments.

  2. I have business class return ticket from LAD to YYC. I want to downgrade this ticket to premium economy. Will I get refunded in cash or voucher? Will I be refunded the exact fare difference between business class & premium economy?

    1. Avatar photo
      KLM Claim Experts

      Only KLM will be able to answer that. Alternatively you can check the rules on their website yourself, they differ for different tickets. Here we are talking only about involuntary downgrade

  3. Hi,
    I had a KLM flight from Leeds to Dammam (Saudi Arabia) and I upgraded my seats to the business when I checked in at Leeds. When I arrived Amsterdam (Transit) the KLM downgraded me to the economy because of the plane changed as they said. They told me that I should claim for the compensation at Leeds when I get back because I paid there! Is that correct? And what and how I should do?


  4. Does your team handle downgrade cases?
    My flight was downgraded from first class to business. I claimed via their website, then Air France answered to compensate but when it comes to paying, they refused my claim, can you help?

      1. HI. I have the same issue. KLM downgraded me from business class to economy on my flight from Delhi to Amsterdam (more them 3500 miles). This was a full-fare ticket with confirmed seats that I had paid for. Now I’m back in the US, and have no way to contact KLM regarding compensation for this downgrade. Text messages and emails are gong completely unanswered. Their website has some link to apply for “refund”, but there is no obvious way to apply for compensation for a downgraded seat. This is just plain wrong.

  5. Hello,

    Can you tell me, please, is it possible to downgrade baggage allowance from standard to light and get compesation? If it is possible, please inform me about procedure. Thank you.

    1. Hi Tita, with questions and requests like this you should contact the airline directly. We are an informative website, plus we provide flight compensation services in case of flight delays and cancellations.

  6. Hi – Thanks for posting such helpful info. Question – when you list the percentages for refund are they based on just the leg that was downgraded or the length of the whole flight. We had a 3-leg flight for my family of 4. My husband and son were downgraded on one leg (YYC to CDG from Business to Premium) and my daughter and I were downgraded on another (CDG – FCO from Business to Econ).

  7. Same situation as Waleed. Original ticket full fare economy, paid to upgrade to business class and was assigned a business class seat in word business class on an international flight to Canada. Paid €800 at checkin to upgrade to business on second leg, flew first leg of intra europe flight in original economy , upon arriving at gate before boarding I was called to gate and told my assigned seat in business class recliner button was not working and was downgraded to a middle row economy seat. I asked for a refund at the gate prior to them giving me a new boarding pass and was told it had to be done by contacting klm. I expressed in annoyance the time it would take to get an agent on the phone and gate agent said “you just do it online.”

    3 weeks later after submitting multiple refund requests I still have not heard from them.

    I plan on issuing a charge back / dispute on the transaction thru my credit card.

    Am I also in this case entitled to compensation (75% refund of original ticket price) ?

    1. “I plan on issuing a chargeback / dispute on the transaction thru my credit card.”

      That’s a good idea. It might be much faster than dealing with an airline.

      “Am I also in this case entitled to compensation (75% refund of original ticket price) ?”

      Yes, for the leg where you were downgraded.

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