Qantas has announced that it will be introducing an auction system allowing economy passengers to bid on Business Class upgrades. This auction system, to be called Bid Now, will join similar systems used by other airlines, and will offer the opportunity to bid on an upgrade from Economy to Business Class.
The new system will be an invitation only system. That is, eligible customers will be sent an invitation to nominate how much they are willing to pay for an upgrade to Business Class. It will be possible to bid in a combination of cash and points.
The Bid Now system will apply to seats that Qantas expects will remain empty even after the existing systems have been used. At present, any unsold seat may be available for Frequent Flyer Upgrades. According to Qantas and seats left unfilled after the Frequent Flyer Upgrades have been processed will be eligible to be filled under the auction.
If Qantas expects that there will be availability of unsold seats, they will send out invitations to bid one week prior to the flight. If the bis is successful, Qantas will confirm this 24 hours prior to the departure of the flight.
The basis rules of this new initiative are:
- The minimum number of points needed will be 3000 for a domestic upgrade and 5000 for an international upgrade.
- There will also be a minimum dollar amount.
- Upgrade bids can be modified or cancelled at any time up to 24 hours before departure
- Customers will be notified via email approximately one day before departure if their offer has been successful or not.
- If a customer is not successful, they will pay nothing and keep their current seat.
- At the time of bidding, Qantas will also give an indication of whether the proposed price is likely to have a good or poor chance of an upgrade.
Successful Bid Now Upgrades will be allocated after all Classic Upgrade Rewards have been processed, with the airline saying the scheme is designed “to unlock revenue opportunities” by turning unsold business class seats into cash. Qantas says the new auction system “ranks below Classic Upgrade Rewards in terms of priority and value, but gives members the flexibility to supplement points with a cash payment.”
“This new initiative will in no way impact the chances of members securing a Classic Upgrade Reward” pledged Qantas Loyalty CEO Lesley Grant. “These will always be confirmed first regardless of their Frequent Flyer tier and they remain the best value option.”
Grant added that Bid Now Upgrades will not change the process or priority for frequent flyers applying for a Classic Upgrade Reward “more than 24 hours out from their scheduled departure”.
As to why another option was being made available, Grant said that the new program would provide additional opportunities for customers to travel in the airline’s premium cabins. “For a member who doesn’t have enough points to submit an upgrade request for their whole family, bid now upgrades offers an alternative chance to travel at the front of the plane with their spouse and children using a combination of money and points,” she said.