Advice | May 27, 2016 9:00 am

Bloodsport Coming to a Terminal Near You Thanks to New Upgrade-by-Auction Platform

How much is an upgrade worth? Whatever you’re willing to pay.

In a move that will have flight passengers competing for more than the middle armrest, certain airlines have begun to offer customers the opportunity to bid on upgrades to empty seats thanks to a new partnership between Amadeus and Plusgrade.

In the days leading up a flight, Plusgrade’s customized system allows flyers who’ve already purchased tickets to engage in a digital auction for upgrades, amenities and even “neighbor-free” seats. The platform displays a gauge to drive prices up and let bidders know how close they are to getting the digital gavel to drop, with winners notified 24-72 hours before takeoff.

Here’s the system Plusgrade designed for Air New Zealand in action:

“Everyone wants to skate toward value-added ancillary revenue,” said says Plusgrade CEO Ken Harris. “We can deliver experiences to passengers that they’re excited about that also benefit the airlines too.”

The service is mainly offered on international carriers for now, but expect to see it expand to an airport near you if it gains traction.