Success strategies for Qantas 'Bid Now' business class upgrade auctions

By Chris Chamberlin, July 30 2016
Success strategies for Qantas 'Bid Now' business class upgrade auctions

If you’re stuck flying in economy with Qantas, you may be invited to bid for a business class upgrade under the airline's Bid Now Upgrades system using a combination of Qantas frequent flyer points and cash.

It’s a good option for travellers who don’t have many points to begin with and may fall short of a traditional points-based upgrade.

For example, here’s a sample Bid Now Upgrades screen for a transcontinental flight between Perth and Melbourne.

This bid has a floor of 4,000 Qantas Points, which can be combined with a cash component as high as $975 (the minimum and maximum dollar range is based on how many points you bid).

But how many points and how much cash should you offer to win on a Qantas Bid Now Upgrade auction without going overboard?

Ultimately, there’s no hard and fast rule: we’ve received many reports from travellers who slid through by bidding the minimum, while a number of flyers weren’t so lucky and had to increase their bids before getting a successful upgrade.

The minimum amount Qantas will allow you to bid – and the minimum Qantas will actually accept – also vary from flight to flight, but as a guide, here’s what you should budget for across a number of domestic and international routes.

Winning upgrade bids: shorter Qantas flights

As a guideline, upgrades on shorter flights can be generally be achieved with less points and less cash than on longer routes, but remember that bidding for business class is never a ‘sure thing’.

Bid for an upgrade and you may, or may not, be invited through the curtain...
Bid for an upgrade and you may, or may not, be invited through the curtain...

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To help you on your path to success, we’ve compiled the lowest bids that we’ve seen Qantas accept – so if you’re travelling on one of these routes, consider offering the same bid or higher to maximise your chances.

  • Townsville-Brisbane: 3,000 points + $75
  • Melbourne-Adelaide: 3,000 points + $80
  • Adelaide-Melbourne: 3,000 points + $100
  • Sydney-Melbourne: 3,000 points + $100
  • Sydney-Brisbane: 3,000 points + $115
  • Sydney-Adelaide: 3,000 points + $180
  • Melbourne-Brisbane: 3,000 points + $180
  • Sydney-Cairns: 6,000 points + $180
  • Brisbane-Darwin: 12,000 points + $200
  • Melbourne-Gold Coast: 3,000 points + $250
  • Cairns-Brisbane: 3,000 points + $260

That’s not to say Qantas won’t accept your bid if it’s lower, but if securing an upgrade is important to you, do consider laying a little extra cash on the table.

Winning upgrade bids: longer Qantas flights

On trans-continental treks and when jetting abroad, the minimum number of points you can offer with your bid increases, usually to 4,000 points on east-west flights and always at least 5,000 points on international services.

Bidding for an upgrade can see you in a Qantas Business Suite to Perth...
Bidding for an upgrade can see you in a Qantas Business Suite to Perth...

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Wherever you're headed, these are the lowest bids we’ve known Qantas to accept on a selection of routes:

  • Sydney-Perth: 4,000 points + $90 (but often $230+)
  • Melbourne-Perth: 4,000 points + $120 (often $250+)
  • Brisbane-Perth: 4,000 points + $105 (often $210+)
  • Melbourne-Auckland: 5,000 points + $200
  • Sydney-Hong Kong: 5,000 points + $505 (premium economy to business)
  • Brisbane-Los Angeles: 5,000 points + $1,135 (economy to business)

Consider also that the minimum amount you can offer may sometimes be greater than what’s above, so use this as a guide and bid accordingly.

Have you successfully bid for a Qantas business class upgrade, and if so, how many points and how much money did you part with? Share your successes in the comment box below!

Also read: Qantas opens upgrades on frequent flyer reward bookings

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

04 May 2015

Total posts 266

Never seem to be invited to bid. Would easily offer 3,000 points and $100 from Melbourne to Sydney on a cheaper ticket!

MrT
MrT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2015

Total posts 35

I tend to find the invitations only come through when travelling at off peak times on domestic routes.

09 Oct 2018

Total posts 11

Exactly right.

I fly business class mel-syd, syd-ool, from time to time, and the other way around and there are seldom any spare seats in business class a week or so before the flights depart. You can't bid for what has already been paid full price for!!

QF

27 Jul 2016

Total posts 11

after the scrum on the 6:45 MEL/SYD this morning tried this for return trip home tomorrow and got lucky for exactly that; 3000 points plus $100

21 Oct 2015

Total posts 27

I assume Status credits are at the original fare class?

As always. :)

Two questions:

1) I think I saw that Qantas is now offering Bid Upgrades that are cash only, no points needed. Is that correct?

2) Do you know when Qantas offers bid upgrades capacity wise? My flight on the A380 seems to show 15 empty J seats about two weeks out.

 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 390

How does this affect people who have a points upgrade in the system, are they going to lose out?

Have a read of this article (linked in the first paragraph) which has comments from Qantas Loyalty CEO Lesley Grant on how upgrade bids are prioritised in the system versus 'classic' (points-only) upgrades: Qantas online auction lets you bid for a business class upgrade

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2014

Total posts 120

Would Qantas allocate all "traditional" upgrade requests first, and then only offer bidding if there was still seats left? I can't recall the last time I ever saw a business class seat empty on a transcon flight so assume they rarely offer these?  Same goes for LAX and LHR flights - surely they have enough demand through tradtional upgrades to never offer bidding these routes?

See my comment above with a link to a separate article that explains the actual process in more detail.

11 May 2018

Total posts 14

HI new to this.

Can someone clarify, can you bid for an upgrade from Y to J or is it only Y to PE? Got an email asking if I wanted to bid SYD-SIN in a week's time. Have lifetime silver status. What would do it to get to J from Y??

11 May 2018

Total posts 14

Also forgot to add, I booked this on expedia and the booking class says Q so how come I got an email from QF?


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