The opportunity to purchase upgrades have been around for a while now, letting airlines squeeze a few extra dollars from passengers at check-in while giving non-elite status fliers a chance for a more comfortable flight. What is new, however, is auctioning off those upgrades to the highest bidder, which is exactly what Etihad Airways is doing.
BoardingArea.com reports that the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates is the first to offer upgrades for auction.
"With our newly launched online upgrade system, guests holding confirmed tickets on Etihad can now determine the amount they are willing to pay for an upgrade to the next higher cabin - Diamond First Class or Pearl Business Class respectively," reads Etihad's web site.
The process for bidding seems pretty straightforward. Ticketed passengers will be notified via email about potential upgrades. They then make an offer (offers are made per flight segment), enter credit card information and submit. There's no charge for unsuccessful bids. You'll be notified two days prior to your flight about the status of your bid.
"The success of an 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. As always, the higher the offer, the greater the chances," reads the Etihad web site.
Fliers with successful bids will earn an additional 10 percent miles bonus.