See some additional ‘hacks’ at the end of this post.
Want to fly premium economy or business class, but not pay the full price? Air Canada now allows economy ticket holders to place bids on empty premium economy and business class seats before their flight. Just like any auction, the highest bidder(s) will get the seat(s).
The process is quite simple. Bids are made online using a sliding scale with a set minimum and maximum amount. When passengers pick their price, a chart lets them know the strength of their offer. Travellers find out if they have the winning bid about 48 hours before departure.
According to Air Canada, the purposes of the Offer Strength chart is to be a rough indicator of how likely a bidder is to win the auction, although the algorithm used for this graph seems quite obscure. It is safe to assume that the chart is a marketing tool to get bidders to bid higher than they otherwise would have with the goal of making the overall top bids higher.
On another note, Aeroplan points for the winning seats will only be calculated based on the original ticket and not the upgraded seats. For a full list of terms, conditions and FAQs, go here.
All in all, this is a great way to experience an upgraded seats (especially if it’s your first time) at a discounted price. As an added strategy, be sure to sign-up for sites like Secret Flying and Next Departure to find great flight deals and be sure to book through Ebates to get additional cash back (see full Ebates hacking post here). By booking as cheap as possible, it gives you some additional leeway when bidding for the upgraded seats. And even if you don’t win the bid, at least you know you got the best price (and some cash back) on the ticket you purchased!