Irish airline Aer Lingus is the latest carrier to offer an auction system for business class seats.
It’s pretty simple. You buy an economy class ticket. Then you go the airline’s website and make them an offer for how much you would pay for an upgrade. You enter your payment information right there. Then you submit your bid and wait.
There are some caveats. You have to be invited to make a bid. And if you don’t book directly through the airline, you won’t be eligible to participate. The window for eligible passengers closes five days prior to departure. Also, if you have multiple passengers on the same itinerary, you must try to upgrade all of them.
The trick here is to try to guess the least amount of money Aer Lingus will accept. As the airline puts it, “Each flight has minimum and maximum assigned offer value and your offer must lie between these two values.” So you don’t want to bid too high. Of course, you only get one shot at this, so you don’t want to bid too low.
“Everyone knows that if no one is sitting in seat 2A when the plane takes off from London to New York, it’s a loss for the airline. But everyone in economy wants that seat,” Ken Harris, the founder and CEO of Plusgrade told CNN. “The idea was to help correct that, and do it intelligently.”
CNN asked an executive with Austrian whether her airline’s bidding system hurt its ability to sell full priced business class tickets. She said it does not.
“This product is for a completely different type of group,” Stephanie Kunath, Austrian’s director of revenue management and business development, told CNN. “It’s not for the business traveler who really wants to fly Business Class and needs a 100% guarantee that he can. It’s for the passenger that just wants to treat himself for a little extra, and can live with the uncertainty.”