American Airlines is Betting You'll Bid on a Bigger Seat

American has come up with a new way for passengers to score an upgrade to first or business class. They call it “Make us an offer.”

Legroom on planes – the real story

Better Seats for Non-Elites

It’s an auction of sorts directed at those who don’t qualify for elite status, and can’t afford the high price of business or first class. All you have to do is figure out what a better seat, a free meal and drinks and all the other goodies of front-of-the-cabin seats are worth to you.

Before you decide on a bid, keep this in mind: If you’re traveling with family on a single reservation, the bid will cover each passenger on a per person basis. Also, your bid is per flight segment, so if you’re on a non-stop, you’d pay a winning bid on two segments, the departure and return flight.

Where to find big seats for big passengers

How to Bid

Starting six days before departure, go to the American bidding site and do the following:

  • Enter Record Locator (the American confirmation code) and your last name
  • You will then enter your per person bid
  • Add credit card information (you won’t be charged if your bid isn’t accepted)
  • You will learn if your bid is accepted at least 24 hours before your flight

American is Not First in Auction Action

As FareCompare reported last year, Etihad Airlines allowed bidding for upgrades – as did at least a couple of Chinese carriers. And back in 2011, Delta experimented with a kind of reverse auction, in which passengers bid on the lowest compensation they’d accept to be voluntarily bumped from a plane.

What Else You Should Know

For the bidder: Not all flight segments qualify, and you won’t earn additional AAdvantage miles – those are awarded on the basis of the class of service you actually purchase.

For elite miles members: As American notes on its bidding site, “Rest assured that elite status member upgrade requests will continue to be given priority and will not be impacted by this program.”

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Published: November 22, 2013