Last week, airberlin began offering an auction for business class upgrades on long-haul flights. The feature is being dubbed “airberlin exquisite,” and it’ll allow those who already have a confirmed economy seat to bid on a business class upgrade up until 72 hours prior to takeoff. At this point, the notion of bidding for an unsold business class seat isn't new. Here's how this budget airline is handling it...The process is fairly simple. If you’re booked on an airberlin flight, just head to airberlin.com/upgrade to see if an auction is available for your flight and, if so, to place a bid. You’ll be notified one way or the other at least 12 hours prior to takeoff. In addition to a seat designed for a full-sized human, winners will also be treated to priority check-in, fast lane boarding, and lounge access.
While frequent flyers used to the occasional free upgrade will likely be nonplussed, the business class auction is easily a boon for leisure travelers hoping for a cheap upgrade. As airlines lean on auctions to further monetize the business and first class cabins, the auctions also help a luxe flying experience become more attainable for the rest of us.
And the opportunities for bidding have only increased, considering airberlin’s added nonstop service to the United States. Locales such as Chicago, Ft. Myers, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York are now being served directly from the airline’s hub cities of Berlin and Dusseldorf. Even if you're laying over, thanks to airberlin's membership in the oneworld alliance member, connecting elsewhere on American, LAN, and others in the network is relatively painless.
airberlin joins American Airlines, KLM, Etihad, Virgin Atlantic,Virgin Australia, Sri Lankan Airlines, Copa Airlines, Air New Zealand, Aer Lingus, Czech Airlines, El Al, Tap Portugal, Air Mauritius, and Air Baltic in offering auctions for unsold business class seats. Given that no major airline has instituted an auction and then removed it due to customer backlash, we’re guessing that even more will join this list in the coming months and years.