Sharron Livingston, of Travel Magazine, wrote a piece this week outlining why the end of business class upgrades may be a thing of the past. I have to admit, the headline caught my attention!
Austrian, Air New Zealand, El Al, Ethihad and Virgin Atlantic have all signed up to be part of a new blind bidding process that will auction off the open seats in business class.
Not all passengers will be eligible. Selected passengers will be chosen by technology developed by software developer Plusgrade. In order to be eligible for the upgrade, you will have already had to buy an economy ticket and meet other undefined criteria.
The company’s chief executive Ken Harris said:”The concept came from the fact that if a flight leaves from London to New York right now and no-one is sitting in seat 2A, that seat would be lost forever”.
Plusgrade is working on a project with El Al where you can bid for an extra seat next to you – so you have no seatmate.
How it works: When you complete the purchase of an economy ticket on a participating airline, you may receive an invitation to upgrade. If you qualify, you will be directed to another page where you can bid for an upgrade to a business class.
If you have the winning bid, you will be notified via email. If not, you won’t be charged.
There is a huge risk that customers who would normally pay for business class might opt for this option if they know how to game the system. That is why there is so much secrecy around how the software selects passengers to send an upgrade invitation to.
The other risk is that those airlines alienate their frequent flyers who would otherwise have been upgraded potentially. Personally, it’s great for someone like me who has status with an airline like US Airways but flies Star Alliance partners regularly. I never get upgraded overseas and this would allow me to bid for upgrades. I’m all for it and it might change the way I fly. Heck, it will change the way I fly.