Why should airlines give away upgrades when they can sell them to the highest bidder?
Air Canada now "offers" upgrades to passengers on eligible flights. There are currently two ways to submit a bid:
- Go to Air Canada's bid upgrade page to see if the flight is eligible and to propose how much you'd like to pay for it.
- Respond to an invitation to upgrade from Air Canada, which should arrive via email 10 days before your departure date.
So, how much should you pay? According to the airline, "the highest offer price you're willing to pay." Yes, like most anything else, an available upgrade on Air Canada is considered worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. Passengers can revise or cancel their bids at any time up to 96 hours before scheduled takeoff. Those whose bids are accepted will receive email confirmations from Air Canada roughly 48 hours before departure time.
How can passengers improve their odds? A so-called "small chart" on the offer page can provide some idea as to the strength of one's offer. However, according to the airline's FAQ page, the amount of one's offer isn't the only component in winning the bidding game: "Upgrades are selected based on seat availability, the number of offers received and other factors that are at Air Canada’s sole discretion; as such there is no guarantee that your offer will be accepted, even at the highest permitted level."
For passengers traveling on multiple-segment trips, bids for upgrades must be submitted for each segment. No offering extra dough for the Calgary-to-LAX leg of your Hawaii trip, for instance, and thinking a winning bid counts for the whole trip.