With good reason: The seats have 38 inches of “pitch” and are 19 inches wide, a sharp contrast to the medieval 32 inches of legroom and 17 inches of seat space in economy class. (Seriously, folks, that should be illegal.)
But try as hard as they might, the Roccafortes couldn’t avoid Torture Class on their transatlantic flight.
“We arrived at Charles de Gaulle three hours before our flight to check in and were told that the flight was very full,” remembers Lisa Roccaforte. “The woman that checked us in told us we may be moved to business class.”
That didn’t happen. She explains what happened next:
At the gate as we were walking on the plane, they took our boarding passes away from us and gave us new ones that had my husband and sister-in-law moved to economy seats. They left my seat in premium economy.
When we tried to tell them no, we bought those seats months ago and chose the seats months ago, they told us we had no choice and to speak to Houston about a refund. We were in shock.
Who wouldn’t be? After a ticket agent promises you a possible upgrade to business class, which has a civil amount of legroom and reasonably good service, two members of her party were being sent to steerage to feed the rats. (And on Air France, no less — sacre bleu!)
Now, we can all agree that the right way to handle this is as follows: An insincere form letter (is there any other kind?) and a prompt refund of the difference between premium economy and the back-of-the-plane fare.
But that would be too easy.
The family did receive the form apology and two $200 vouchers, and eventually an $840 refund, which represents the upgrade fee for two tickets.
But Roccaforte looked up the rules for involuntary downgrades. EU regulations entitle her to a 75 percent refund. She also requested a refund for her seat, even though she voluntarily downgraded herself to economy class to sit with her party.
“I paid $1,805 for each of the seats,” she says. “The 75 percent refund should be $1,354 for each seat.”
After several emails and phone calls, they found themselves talking with Delta, Air France’s codeshare partner in the United States.
Every person I talk to tells me to do something else. The EU Regulation rules state we are entitled to a refund, and that Air France should have let us know before we were walking on the plane that we were being downgraded.
They should have also informed us of our rights. They were also supposed to refund our money within 7 days. I can’t find anyone to tell me the process to receive a refund.
I recommended that the Roccafortes contact Euro Flight Delays, which specializes in EU 261 complaints, and is also an underwriter of this site. But I also asked Delta about her case.