Bidding on seat upgrades

By Michael Dixon
This item appears on page 13 of the October 2017 issue.

I read the piece in Travel Briefs about bidding for a seat upgrade on Etihad Airways (Sept. ’17. pg. 4). My wife and I have successfully done this twice, most recently in January 2017.

In our case, we received an email about 10 days before our flight with an invitation to bid on an upgrade. We could determine the minimum amount that Etihad would consider by dialing the “strength indicator” to its minimum, then doing the same for the maximum, which was substantially lower than what we would have paid to upgrade the seats initially.  

You bid for each segment of your Etihad itinerary. Out of four separate bids on two different flights from Washington Dulles to Abu Dhabi, UAE, and return, we have won two times, once by making a “strong” bid and the other time with a “weak” bid, so you never know.

We were bidding for business class on one of the flights. On the other flight, we had booked business-class seats and we bid on first class, and we got one of the bids.

I think Etihad is one of the great airlines because of its excellent service and because it permits you to book the class of service you want on each leg of an itinerary. 

Other airlines also offer bidding for seat upgrades. In July 2017 we made low bids on an Icelandair flight from Dulles to Keflavik, Iceland, and also on the return. We won on the outgoing flight but not on the return.  I believe there are half a dozen airlines that offer bidding for upgrades.


Washington, DC