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Cathay Pacific will now let travellers bid cash for an upgrade to premium economy and business class – but not first class – under the airline's new Upgrade Bid program.
The initiative is intended to help the airline fill its premium cabins on selected flights where seats remain empty even after frequent flyer points-based upgrades have been allocated, the airline says.
The first routes on the Upgrade Bid roster include "selected flights" between Hong Kong and Adelaide, Amsterdam, Bangkok, Brisbane, Cebu, Chiang Mai, Chicago, Colombo, Denpasar (Bali), Dubai, Kathmandu, Rome and Seoul.
Cathay Dragon flights on those routes are also eligible for an Upgrade Bid bump, with other routes to be added in the coming months.
An Upgrade Bid "eligibility notification" will appear on the booking confirmation page for flights booked through the Cathay Pacific website, with the option to place a cash bid and then change or cancel that bid up to 50 hours before the flight departs.
Successful bids will be acknowledged via email two to three days before the flight.
Factors which feed into making a successful bid include not only the amount offered but also your original fare class (a cheaper ticket will require a higher cash bid to make the cut ), the number of passengers in the same booking (solo flyers will have an edge over Brady Bunch-sized bookings) and even your Marco Polo Club status.
Cathay Pacific maintains that "Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles members will have an advantage on their original bid, prioritised by tier in recognition of their loyalty and support."
The Oneworld airline previously trialled the cash-for-upgrades concept in 2014 under the Enhance brand.