How to join the high flyers in business class

I recently flew business class with Cathay Pacific and I can heartily recommend the experience.

(Cathay Pacific)

I’m also pleased to say that the experience will be open to more people, now that Cathay has joined the airlines offering upgrade auctions.

The idea, already used by Etihad and a few other airlines, allows selected passengers to say how much they’d be prepared pay to move up to the front. If they bid the highest amount, they win.

It’s a way for airlines to make a little more money filling otherwise empty seats.

For passengers, of course, it means having a better experience for a lower price — as long as you are careful with your bid. In the case of Cathay’s Upgrade Bid, economy passengers can bid to upgrade to premium economy, and premium passengers can bid to upgrade to business class.

Here’s Cathay’s email announcement in part:

If your flight and fare class are eligible to make an Upgrade Bid, and you have opted in to receive offers from Cathay Pacific, you will receive an email invitation seven days before the first sector of your booking. You can also check your flight’s eligibility by entering your booking reference number and family name on the Upgrade Bid welcome page.

To enter the auction, simply visit our Upgrade Bid page to place your starting bid. If your offer is accepted as the winning bid, you’ll receive an email notification confirming your upgrade 48 hours before the departure.

The problem, as I’ve discovered while participating in Etihad’s scheme, is knowing how much to bid.

In some cases, a relatively modest offer may win you a seat at the pointy end of the plane, in others you’ll need to shell out the equivalent of the full premium fare anyway.

It’s a gamble, but if you’re looking down the barrel of a long haul flight in a cramped economy seat, it may well be one worth taking,

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