Etihad Airways has launched a new upgrade system where passengers can make a bid for a chance to fly in the next higher cabin, Diamond first class or Pearl business class. If there are seats available in Diamond or Pearl on an upcoming flight, Etihad will send an email to passengers with confirmed tickets and inform them they can bid on an upgrade five days prior to departure. You will need to decide how much you are willing to pay for an upgrade and enter your credit card information, which will only be charged if your offer is the winning bid. The success of the offer will “depend on the amount offered for an upgrade, other competing offers as well as the guest’s status within the Etihad Guest program.” Preference will also be given to passengers who booked a higher fare in Pearl business class or Coral economy class. Etihad will inform bidders whether they won the auction two days prior to departure. Upgrades are per segment and you will only be able to make one offer per flight. Members who are upgraded will receive a 10 percent mileage bonus on their upgraded flight, meaning if you upgrade from Coral economy class to Pearl business class you’ll earn 10 percent more of the base miles, if you upgrade from Pearl to Diamond first class, you’ll earn the normal 50 percent bonus for Pearl class plus 10 percent more for 60 percent of the base miles flown. If you are a Gold Elite, Gold or Silver member, you will earn your Tier Bonus as usual based on the base miles. Tier miles and segments will be earned based on the upgraded cabin. When you make your bid, you’ll be able to gauge the strength of your offer with the online indicator from a “poor offer”, to “below past successful offer” to “offer is in the range of past successful offers” and finally to “good offer”. Note that if you change or cancel your ticket after the upgrade has been processed, you will not receive a refund of your upgrade offer.
Bottom line: There are other airlines also offering upgrade auctions. TAP Portugal allows passengers on flights within Europe to bid on an upgrade to tap|executive class. El Al, Czech Airlines and Brussels Airlines also allow passengers to make an offer to upgrade. If you are flying in coach and are willing to pay for an upgrade, it’s worth submitting a bid but you’ll have no way of knowing what bids will be accepted until a couple of days prior to departure.