Air Canada has introduced a ‘bid for upgrade’ process which allows passengers with eligible fares to bid a price and experience the better service class. AC has partnered with Plusgrade to run the Air Canada bid upgrade process and many travelers have already reported receiving emails inviting bids for Premium Economy and Business class service.

Air Canada Bid Upgrade

Travelers can bid to upgrade from Economy – Premium Economy and from Premium Economy – Business, however, not every fare is eligible to bid for an upgrade. The system is very much in a beta phase and the upgrades are available for select destinations and select flights only.  As things stand, AC is sending emails to eligible travelers (10 days prior to travel date) with a link which takes them to the bidding page. Travelers submit their bids using a slider, enter payment details and submit their bid.

I recently got an email from Air Canada to bid for my upcoming trip to Dubai, booked in Premium Economy (booking class N). Recall, the time when premium economy fares were cheaper than economy!

Air Canada bid upgrade

 

The bidding page included all the segments of my itinerary, but only those on Air Canada were eligible for bidding. The page included a price slider and a “offer strength” display to help decide on the offer. The slider represents the min. and max. amounts for bidding on each segment. My YYZ-DXB segment had a range of $400 – $900 and I pegged my offer at $500. The bidding price is inclusive of all taxes and fees.

 

Air Canada bid upgrade

I submitted an offer of $500 CAD for YYZ-DXB leg

 

It was interesting to note that only Visa and MasterCard were the accepted forms of payment when submitting a bid. Once submitted, an email confirmation was received promptly with a link to view/modify the offer.  Submitted bid could be modified up until 96 hrs before the flight.

Air Canada bid upgrade

Submitted bid can be modified up until 96 hrs before the flight.

Air Canada would notify the successful bids by email, about 72 hours before flight departure. Unfortunately, I am a few days away from knowing if my $500 was accepted. I would be very surprised if my low-balled offer is approved.

Going forward, AC would also introduce a dedicated AC Bid Upgrade website where travelers can enter a booking reference to determine the eligibility of their booking. For now, its by email invite only.

Things to know

  • AC would send eligible passengers an invite to bid, 10 days prior to departure. Submitted bid can be modified up until 96 hrs before the flight. Successful bids will be confirmed by email, 72 hours before departure.
  • Eligible flights and tickets are determined by Air Canada at its sole discretion and depends on a variety of factors including cabin class and seat class availability.
  • Upgrades are only available for tickets issued by Air Canada (AC issued tkts start with 014). Flights operated by Air Canada Vacations do not qualify.
  • Group bookings and booking that includes infants (under age 2) also do not qualify for the upgrade.
  • Award tickets booked using Aeroplan miles ARE ELIGIBLE for upgrades.
  • If your upgrade request is accepted, the fare conditions for the original ticket purchased shall remain in effect. Earning miles, Cancellation policy etc will be attached to the original booking fare.
  • Successful upgrades are non-transferable, non-refundable, and are valid only on the flight and date shown. Canceling or changing the ticket will forfeit the upgrade amount.
  • Upgrades to Premium Economy will be rebooked to N class and upgrades to Business class will be rebooked to R class.
  • Altitude members can request an eUpgrade and make an AC bid upgrade offer on the same flight segment. The upgrade request that confirms first, will be honored.

A full AC Bid Upgrade FAQ documentation is available here.

Take Away

The Air Canada bid upgrade process is another step towards a better revenue model for the company. However, this would limit (eliminate?) the last minute upgrade (LMU) offers at check-in and further limit the operational (complimentary) upgrades offered to elite members. Given that successful bids are notified 72 hours prior to departure, Altitude members will continue to enjoy a bigger window at upgrade seats using eUpgrade credits.  The success of the bid depends on many factors including the number of bids for that segment and the price of the bids. Since this process is in beta phase, data points available are few and far between to really ascertain a “good bid”. Best strategy would be to determine the maximum amount you were willing to pay for the upgrade right away.

Have you received an invite to bid yet? What are your thoughts on this new feature? Share with a comment below.