Travel Tip: Bidding for Flights and Upgrades


If you haven’t heard, bidding for flights and upgrades is the latest way to score a cheap ticket. While I haven’t used this method myself yet, I’ve done a bunch of research and it’s only a matter of time. Here’s what you need to know:

Bidding for Economy Tickets

Many people aren’t aware that the price for flights isn’t set in stone. Airlines will often sell tickets for cheaper than advertised, since it’s better than flying with a plane that’s half full.

Priceline has a Name Your Own Price Tool that is excellent, particularly for those who are flying within two weeks. The more flexibility you have, the higher your chance of getting a decent discount.

Here’s what you do:

Check a few different websites to see how much they’re offering your ideal flight for. From there, choose one departure and arrival airport, give them your maximum bid, and enter your credit card details. Keep in mind that if they accept your offer you’ll be buying the ticket immediately, so make sure your dates are correct.

If Priceline doesn’t accept your bid, change one of your airports, dates, or connections, and re-bid. Continue this until you’ve reached a price you’re happy with. Is it guaranteed to save you tons of moolah every time? Nope. But it’s definitely worth a go. 

Bidding for Flights
Source: Flickr

Bidding for Upgrades

I’ve never flown business class- a fact that I would love to remedy, but sadly my budget doesn’t quite stretch to luxury in the sky. New Zealand and Australia don’t have anywhere near the amount of opportunity for frequent flyer points and miles, so if I do end up flying business, this will be how I do it:

Before you book your economy ticket, check if your airline actually offers the bidding system. Here’s a list of airlines that are currently offering bidding for upgrades.

Anywhere from a week to 24 hours before you fly, you should receive an email explaining their bidding system. Keep in mind that if you’ve purchased a sale fare you may not get this opportunity, so check out the rules before you hit that purchase button.

If your flights have two separate legs, and you’re only planning to upgrade for one of them, make a couple of fake bookings to see which one is less full. That’s your sweet spot, and you’re going to want to bid on the flight with less competition.

Ok, so you’re ready to bid. How much should you be prepared to spend? Research into how much a business ticket would cost you, and figure out how much you’d be comfortable paying before you bid. Remember: once you’ve entered those credit card details you’re completely committed, and if you’re successful with your bid then your credit card will be charged immediately.

Most of the people bidding are likely to go for the minimum bid. So bid a little above this in order to increase your chances. I highly recommend you guys check out this post by Bethaney from Flashpacker Family. Bethaney has bid three times and been successful twice, and she’s got all the best tips and tricks.

Have you bid for a flight or upgrade?


2 comments on “Travel Tip: Bidding for Flights and Upgrades

  1. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family January 7, 2015 @ 9:47 pm

    Thanks for sharing!!!! You have to try this out.

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