Cathay Pacific begins cash auctions for business class upgrades

By David Flynn, June 14 2014
Cathay Pacific begins cash auctions for business class upgrades

Cathay Pacific is now offering business class and premium economy upgrades via online auction on selected routes, with bump-ups going to the highest cash bidder.

Dubbed Enhance, the upgrade auction scheme is currently available for economy and premium economy passengers on selected flights between Hong Kong and Perth, London, Paris, New York/Newark, Toronto, Moscow, Seoul, Surabaya and Cebu.

Only passengers on certain flights and booked into specific ticket classes, with travel from June 20 through to November 12 2014, are eligible to bid for a better seat, however – to check if your booking is auction-friendly, enter your booking reference number and family name at

Bookings made using frequent flyer points are among the ticket classes which aren't eligible for an upgrade, no matter how much money you're willing to bid.

Cathay Pacific says that travellers who are eligible for Enhance will receive an instant invitation on the booking confirmation page if they book online, or will receive an email invitation seven days before departure if they booked through a travel agent.

"Follow the steps on the invitation, submit your personal information, and make an offer." the airline explains. "If your offer was accepted, we will contact you 2-3 days before your flight to confirm the upgrade."

For more details on Enhance, click through to

PREVIOUS | Cathay Pacific is considering offering upgrades to premium economy, business and first class via online auctions.

The move would see passengers bidding for upgrades using cash, along similar lines to the upgrade auctions already held by other airlines including Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic and Etihad.

"Customers would be invited to place an offer for their booked flights via a website prior to their departure date" a spokesperson for Cathay Pacific explains.

"If their offer was successful they would be advised around four days prior to departure and the offer payment collected."

The plan could help Cathay Pacific fill the premium cabins on its flights by making all premium seating available to any passenger.

However, it has understandably stoked fears among members of Cathay Pacific's Marco Polo rewards program that this could reduce the number of upgrade seats available to frequent flyers.

"We are examining new initiatives that will allow us to offer passengers, including our Marco Polo Club members, different ways to get an upgrade" a Cathay Pacific spokeswoman told The South China Morning Post.

"At this stage the project is still in the study phase."

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jun 2013

Total posts 366

These auctions,mean less award seats will be  offered .air NZ is so differcult to get a business class award using their air points since they introduced auctions!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2199


10 Mar 2011

Total posts 526

Not sure this is such a great thing for frequent flyers... It would spell the end of points upgrades. I really hope this is not the next big thing!

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

27 Nov 2012

Total posts 44

They should allow points to be used as well as cash, then some of the upper tier members may get a a bargain deal on an upgrade.

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 97

Shame on CX to consider devaluing the quality reputation it has established by auctioning seats.Why pay full fare when the person sitting next to you has paid considerably less by bidding and receiving confirmation 4 days prior.The Marco Polo Loyalty programme will be diminished as a result. Hope they will abandon such a regressive initiative.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 May 2012

Total posts 119

Yes, agreed, cheapens their reputation and product in my view.


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1524

I like the idea

"...Only passengers on certain flights and booked into specific ticket classes, with travel from June 20 through to November 12 2014..."

Won't you agree a little more information around the specific booking inventory would give this article a bit more weight?


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

Won't you agree that clicking the link to the CX 'Enhance' page to read the details for yourself, if you're interested in them, is not too much to ask?

No I don't. 


I've chosen to indulge you and visited the CX Enhance website out of sheer curiosity. Lo and behold this is what the website said on this matter;

"Enhance – make an offer for an upgrade to the next higher cabin class.

During the trial period, we invite passengers booked on Economy Class and Premium Economy Class to place an offer for a chance to upgrade, with the following criteria:

  • Passengers travelling on 1 of our 9 selected routes: Perth, Toronto, Newark, Moscow, Paris, London, Surabaya, Cebu or Seoul.
  • Enhance is only available for selected flights and applicable fare classes on these routes where tickets are issued at specific countries/regions.
  • Bookings made after 12 May 2014, for travel between 20 June and 12 November 2014, on or, or with our local reservations office and hotlines.
  • Bookings must be confirmed.
  • Bookings with infant fares, waitlisted, redemption and prize tickets are not eligible."

So unless you know of another spot on the website where pertinent details are published, please feel free to share.

It would appear that CX is intentionally being scant with the details. 


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

Try FAQ #9:9. Are there any reasons why I might not be eligible to make an upgrade offer?

There are several different factors that may restrict your eligibility to make an offer to upgrade, including:

  • The flight is not currently accepting offers
  • No seat availability on the next higher cabin class
  • Your ticket has not been issued
  • Your booking is not confirmed yet
  • Your flight is not operated by Cathay Pacific Airways
  • The flight you are travelling on is not open for Enhance
  • You booked through a channel other than the Cathay Pacific Airways or Dragonair website, Cathay Pacific Airways Global Contact Centres, local reservation and ticketing offices, or  The Marco Polo Club Service Centre.
  • The fare class of your ticket is not one of the following: W, R, E, Y, B, H, K, M, L or V

Fantastic! Thanks Al. Now we can add the last bullet point to the article for the article to be enhanced! Pardon the pun.

I was thinking, what would be really helpful is if we had a website where people could detail their winning bids so that we can create a baseline to decide what a realistic upgrade fee should be.

CX is relying on consumer surplus driven by the fear of loosing out to help them reap as much as possible, unlike BA which determines what the cost of an upgrade is.

If such a resource is available, albeit based on historical data, it would give the traveller a better guage. What do you think?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 412

dont give cash stapped QF any ideas, their revised FF program is already hitting loyal members.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 464

The info on CX website indicates bookings made before May 12 are not eligible.  So a One World Emerald will miss out on complimentary upgrades and can't bid.  Nice that CX have had my money for 10 months for 4 premium economy seats but will only offer this facility to those that booked more recently.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

25 Jun 2014

Total posts 1

This will definitely mean less seats available for miles upgrades and miles redemption. This is just yet another very Hong Kong style greedy way of raising revenue. Thank god more carriers are begining flights in and out of Hong Kong. Thanks American for starting your flight to Dallas. Add as many more as you can. So much easier to earn AAdvantage miles on Cathay and redeem on American. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Apr 2012

Total posts 1

Very Disappointed!

I recently flew full fare Y from MEL-HKG-EWR and I was offered to submit a bid for the Enhance Upgrade to premium economy on my HKG-EWR leg.

I put in a rather high bid for the upgrade (around $800) which put me in the green section of the "likely to be successful" gauge that is displayed when you place your bid.

Two days before my flight, I was informed that my bid hadn't been successful. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I naturally assumed that the flight may already be fully sold or there were more successful upgrade bids/higher status members on board.

Nevertheless I still scored a seat in the very front economy cabin where I was able to get a perfect view of a shockingly 1/4 occupied premium economy cabin.

Why Cathay Pacific even bothers with Enhance is a mystery to me.
Would love to hear if any other AusBT members have been successful with this. 

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