A new way to get discounted flight upgrades: Bid on it

Bid on your next flight upgrade.
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Being loyal to an airline, using credit card points, or getting on a flight attendant’s good side. These are just some of the ways we hopefuls try to get flight upgrades. But have you ever tried bidding on an upgrade?

How does it work?

The bidding strategy gives travelers the chance to upgrade their seats for a fragment of the price. The bidding process can vary from airline to airline but carriers typically open up bidding anywhere between two and seven days before a scheduled flight but some cut it as close as five hours before takeoff.

How do I know if bidding is open?

Some airlines, like Icelandair, send emails out to fliers and let them know that the bidding option is open. Other airlines don’t alert travelers but simply update the bidding page on their websites. 

What comes with winning a bid?

Besides getting a sweet new seat, winners usually also get all the upgrades perks of the fare class, including lounge access, free checked bags, free alcohol, and more. 

Is it really cheaper?

Though this bidding option seems enticing, it’s good to keep in mind that bidding can cost a couple of hundred dollars. Airline bids don’t work the same as traditional auctions. You don’t see other people’s bids so you have to just put forth your best offer and hope you beat out everyone else. That means you most likely can’t put in $50 and hope to fly first class. 

Under what circumstances should I try bidding?

Websites like Expert Flyer recommend looking up your flight to see how many unsold premium economy and business class seats there are left so you can get a better idea of how high you should bid. If there are fewer seats, you’ll definitely want to bid higher.

It’s hard to tell how much you’ll save with bidding versus other upgrade options, but it’s certainly worth a shot if there are a lot of premium seats open. It’s also a great option if you’re flying with an airline that you haven’t accrued status with or are saving your points for another trip.

See the full list of airlines that offer upgrades through bidding here.

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