When I booked our flight on Hawaiian Airlines, I chose to fly in the main cabin instead of spending the extra for a lie-flat first-class seat. I considered paying for the upgrade for a nine-hour flight, but I couldn’t justify the extra miles that Hawaiian was charging to sit up front.
That’s a 100K HawaiianMiles difference between the two classes of service. For two tickets, 200,000 miles for a one-way ticket. There are several other things I’d rather do with that many miles, which I’d be transferring from AMEX Membership Rewards.
I apparently wasn’t the only one who balked at the price for first-class because I received an email 9 days before our flight, offering the chance to bid for an upgrade.
Mahalo for choosing Hawaiian Airlines for your upcoming trip.
We are pleased to inform you that the following flight itinerary is eligible for an upgrade. Simply place your bid for an upgrade up to 28 hours prior to your departure time and we’ll notify you if your bid is successful 48 hours to 24 hours before departure. If your bid is unsuccessful, we’ll notify you 24 hours before departure.
The program is called Bid Up and lets you pick the price you’d pay for an upgrade. There are some limitations of the offer such as needing to bid for everyone on your reservation. Also, if your bid is accepted, you don’t earn any extra points for the flight besides the cost of your original ticket.
I was curious so I clicked on the link to see about making a bid. That’s when I noticed that Hawaiian sets the starting bid for upgrades and gives an “estimated chance” of your bid being accepted.
For our flight, here’s the bidding page.
Bidding started at $995 per guest and went up to $2250. The low bid was given a slim chance of being accepted and the suggested bid was $1495.
Considering the cost to purchase a first-class seat costs anywhere from $1450 to $2445 and the main cabin ticket cost ranges from $350 to $700, this isn’t a very big discount. Depending on what you paid for your ticket and your bid, it could cost you more money to bid for an upgrade than if you just bought a first-class ticket.
I checked over the next week to see if the starting bid changed but it always stayed at $995.
While it sounded like an interesting way for an airline to sell upgrades, I prefer the system that other airlines employ, which lets you pay a set price when checking in for the flight. That way I can decide if the price is worth it instead of trying to guess the price which is both within my budget and higher than other passengers would bid.
The full details of the Bid Up program can be found here.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
Cover Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines
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