Cathay Pacific starts auctioning off seat upgrades

Andrew Munro 18 July 2017

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Going once, going twice...

Cathay Pacific has introduced a blind auction system for seat upgrades, and you can place your bids now. Right now it's not available on all routes yet, and first class is still off limits for punters, but you can still put in a bid for premium economy and business class upgrades on a wide range of international trips.

These flights will be marked with an "Upgrade Bid eligibility notification" (which basically means there are some unsold premium economy or business class seats) when you book online through the Cathay Pacific website. If you see one of these, you'll have the option of placing a bid right there, which can be changed or cancelled until 50 hours before the flight departs.

This is a wider rollout of the Cathay Pacific Enhance program first trialled in 2014, and you'll now start seeing this on routes all over the world.

It's not an entirely level playing field though, and it's not just about how much cash you put down. Marco Polo and Asia Miles Club members will get an edge in the bidding wars, while cheaper tickets will call for higher bids if you want to win. And solo travellers are obviously easier to upgrade and have a big advantage over the groups.

Other airlines, including Qantas, Virgin Australia and Etihad, have also played around with the idea of upgrade auctions, and now Cathay Pacific is joining in.

If you want the best seats in the house, but don't fancy your odds against deluxe frequent flyer members, it's worth remembering that there are also plenty of other ways to score an upgrade.

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