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The New Way To Get A Flight Upgrade

  • Article by Amy Bradney-George
  • February 10, 2015 at 5:15 AM

From flirting with flight attendants to finding something “wrong” with an allocated seat, people will do all kinds of things to try and get an upgrade to business or first class. But this elusive golden ticket of flying doesn’t come as easily as it used to.

Despite the many articles and blog posts offering advice on “how to get a flight upgrade for free”, most airlines are clamping down on the practice of giving their best seats away to anyone that isn’t a super elite flier. In fact, many airline policies actually prohibit unjustified upgrades at check-in and on board flights, making it an even more rare occurrence.

But getting a free, or cheap, upgrade could become a lot easier for Qantas Frequent Flyers thanks to the launch of a new online invitation-only bidding system.

Called Bid Now Upgrades, this option allows invited Frequent Flyers booked in Economy and Premium Economy to make an offer for a Business upgrade using a combination of money and Qantas Points. The airline says it provides greater opportunity for customers to travel in Qantas’ premium cabins.

“As Australia’s leading loyalty program we are always exploring new ways for our Frequent Flyers to redeem their Qantas Points and we know that upgrading to a more premium cabin is something that many of our members aspire to,” Qantas Loyalty CEO Lesley Grant says of the system.

“This is designed for Frequent Flyers who don’t have a balance high enough to request an upgrade using points alone.”

Bid Now Upgrades will be gradually introduced across the Qantas network from February, with allocations set after all Classic Upgrade Rewards (which are points-only upgrades) have been processed. The new system ranks below Classic Upgrade Rewards in terms of priority and value, but gives members the flexibility to supplement points with a cash payment.

“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,” Grant explains.

While many other airlines offer similar upgrade bidding processes, Qantas says Bid Now Upgrades is unique in the market as “the only system to offer customers an upgrade option using a combination of points and money”.

The new upgrade option follows other changes by Qantas to unlock revenue opportunities, including a significant increase in aircraft utilisation that has seen new routes and extra services added to its network.

How it works

1. Customers invited to participate in Bid Now Upgrades will receive an email, seven days before departure, enabling them to make an offer for an upgrade within a set range of points and money.

2. Minimums are from 3,000 Qantas Points for a domestic upgrade and from 5,000 Qantas Points for an international upgrade. A minimum dollar amount will also be required.

3. Customers’ Bid Now Upgrades offer can be modified or cancelled at any time up until 24 hours before departure, but customers don’t see each other’s offers.

4. Customers will be notified via email approximately one day before departure if their offer has been successful or not.

5. If a customer is not successful, they pay nothing and keep their current seat.

Image source: Qantas

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