The days of being selected for a seat upgrade at flight check-in are rapidly disappearing. Spain-based airline Iberia recently became the latest airline to offer upgrades for spare premium seats through an online auction.
Many airlines now allow economy class passengers to bid for unoccupied – or leftover – business class seats through online auctions. Some airlines even put upgrades for first class seats up for auction.
The participants in these auctions are selected on the basis of factors such as the route, the number of leftover premium seats and frequent flier status.
The fact that makes the process a big win for the airlines is that the auctions are blind – bidders enter the amount they are willing to pay for a leftover seat but are not allowed to see the bids of other passengers. If a bid exceeds other bids the seat is assigned to the highest bidder.
Austrian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand, El Al and Etihad are some of the airlines offering upgrade auctions. We’re confident more airlines will adopt this additional revenue stream in the future.