Here’s How Much You Need to “Bid” Your Way Into First Class

Yeah. It's a thing.

September 11, 2017 9:00 am

Complimentary flight upgrades: They’re as much a part of the past as free meals. Which is to say: They’re not extinct, but they’re probably headed that way. 

In their place comes an exciting bidding war. If you, like us, recently booked a plane ticket — on, in our case, Norwegian — you may have gotten an email with a subject line like this: “Last Chance to Get Upgraded on Your Flight!” The upshot: Flyers enter a dollar amount they’re willing to give up in order to get a premium seat. We wondered: Would $10 be enough? $50? We put in $20 and hoped for the best. 

We shouldn’t have bothered, says Zach Honig of The Points Guy. His upgrade to business class on Austrian Airlines? €400 each way. That’s a lot, but unless he got seriously fleeced on the cost of his economy ticket, it’s also a significant savings on a regular biz-class ticket ($2,400+). Time magazine recommends some math for a thoughtful bid: “between 20% and 40% of the difference [between a regular seat in business class and what you paid for economy].” Eh, seems like too much money to us — but then, transatlantic flying is one of the few things in life where being short is a distinct advantage. If we were tall, or tired, or billing this to our boss, or splashing out to impress an S.O., 20% to 40% of that difference might be quite a tidy bargain after all. 


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.