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If you’ve ever looked at a regular first-class ticket price, laughed and thought, “Ha never!” well this post is for you. For most of us, sipping Champagne in the premier cabin just before take off probably seems totally out of reach, but what you may not know is that some airlines allow you to bid on those premium seats. This makes it possible for you to get an even better seat—and much better airline experience—for a fraction of the normal ticket price. With our helpful guide, you may just find yourself flying in style on your next trip in the sky!

RELATED: Just how impressive are these new luxury airline suites?

Singapore Airlines First Class (747)

Flickr CC: Richard Moross

How does the bidding process work?

Each company has its own bidding process and guidelines in place but the process is usually similar. Once you buy your normal airline tickets, you’ll get your standard confirmation email. Sometime in the future, you may get a separate email asking if you’d like to bid on first- or business-class seating. It will direct you to a weblink where you can do the actual bidding. All you need to do is set your bid amount. If you’re selected for an upgrade, you’ll get a confirmation bid email and your credit card will be charged before your flight. If don’t receive this email, call your airline to ask how their program works, if they have one. It’s that easy!


Flickr CC: Dan Nevill

Which airlines offer first class bidding?

You may be wondering what airlines offer premium seat bidding. The answer is many! Here are a few airlines that you may want to bid with in the future. Be sure to check into their specific program terms to see what they offer.

  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Czech Airlines
  • Air China
  • COPA Airlines
  • Etihad
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Avianca
  • TAP Portugal
  • Icelandair
  • Hawaiian Airlines
Emirate Airline Business Class Seat

Flickr CC: Luke Lai

ALSO: Another great tip—join Orbitz Rewards to earn toward free hotels!

5 helpful tips to keep in mind

If you want to have a better chance at securing a great seat upgrade, here are some tips to consider:

  • Each airline will have a set minimum bid, which is calculated by flight length, destination and other factors. Sorry, but you won’t get a first class seat for $1!
  • Remember that you’re competing with other flyers—while you want to get a great deal, bidding the minimum amount may not be the best strategy. Consider bidding more than the minimum amount if it’s within your budget.
  • When bidding, look into the perks that are associated with the upgraded seat. This can help you better decide if you’ll be getting a great deal. For example, a long-haul flight that includes a comfortable seat, unlimited alcohol, and quality meals may be well worth a $300 ticket upgrade price.
  • Consider bidding on weekday flights, as there are likely fewer people on your flight compared to busier days like Saturday or Sunday. You may have a better chance at winning your bid this way!
  • Do some research online to see what has worked for other travelers. This can help you better gauge your own chances of winning an upgrade bid.

Orbitz, app, iPhone, travel, deals

Tagged: Feature

Natasha Gabrielle
Natasha is a freelance writer, blogger and traveler. After spending the last 2 years living and working in South Korea, she continues to travel the world and document her adventures at
Natasha Gabrielle


a 20-something #travelblogger, marketing pro & #adventurer. Former ESL teacher in Korea. (not dm)

2 thoughts on “Here’s how to bid on a first class upgrade and win”

  1. Aeromexico offers bidding. We flew to Cancun in December. Wednesday flight from NYC. First Class. Only an extra $125 ticket.

  2. I just got an offer to bid for upgrade on virgin Australia…but the minimum bid was 2400.00
    That’s about 175.00 an hour extra for the flight.
    I could drink a lot of alcohol in the cheap seats for that….

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