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Thoughts on Air Canada’s Bid Upgrade Program

Air Canada is offering a bidding program to upgrade a passenger’s seat. The upgrades are based on availability for select destinations and scheduled flights operated by Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge, and under the Air Canada Express banner.

Conditions

To find out if your flight is eligible for an upgrade, you need to visit the AC bid upgrade website to enter your booking reference and your last name in the fields provided. Alternatively, you may also receive an e-mail if you booked your flight directly on the Air Canada website, on the Air Canada mobile website or via Air Canada Reservations 10 days prior to departure.

There are several other conditions that apply that you can find out on the Air Canada website. What I would like to discuss is whether this is a good idea.

Thoughts

I actually think that it is a terrible idea for consumers, but an amazing idea for Air Canada. This initiative has the opportunity for AC to make a fair amount of chunk change. The seat was going to be empty anyway because they do not expect to sell that seat before the flight. This initiative turns to existing passengers on the flight to squeeze more money out of them. It is pretty much a no lose situation for Air Canada.

As for consumers, only people who are willing to pay will get the seat, which can be fair if only one person bids anyway. But once you have a bidding war, someone will be priced out and miss out.

Not all flights will be eligible for an upgrade. Eligible flights and tickets are determined by Air Canada at its “sole discretion and depend on a variety of factors including cabin class and seat class availability“. So what does that mean?

What I Recommend

To me, what would be fair is that AC allow elite members an opportunity for upgrade first, it is only fair to reward loyal clients. Only if there are no takers, I would say 5 days before the flight, then perhaps it may make sense to open it up for auction.

After that, it is on demand and supply to drive the price. However, there appears to be a minimum bid requirement, so that means Air Canada already calculated their break even anyway. When the bidding war starts, that is when the profits climb for Air Canada.

So you will want to be careful what you bid, so that you don’t end up paying more than had you bought the ticket outright.

Conversely, if the qualifying bid was low, it wouldn’t be fair to the people who paid for the more expensive ticket to begin with.

So it may be difficult to strike a balance on what is fair.

Conclusion

Regardless of how unpopular this idea is, I see it going on for a while because it is a no lose program for Air Canada. Even if no one bids, they do not lose out, aside from paying for marketing materials, which they can easily pass down those costs to the consumer later anyway.

Since it is going forward, let’s see how this plays out. At this point, it will be how the demand and supply plays out, so let’s make the most of the opportunity!

What are your thoughts about bidding for an upgrade?

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Pointshogger aims to provide analysis and updates on earning loyalty reward points and maximizing the value of your points. We hope to inspire our readers to experience the joy of travel and make the most out of what they've already got!

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