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Bidding Your Way to an Upgrade

The latest craze in the airline business is bidding for an upgrade.  Lots of airlines are offering this now; and the feature has turned out to be wildly popular with consumers.   Here's some advice on how to finesse the upgrade bidding systems of Air Canada and Westjet.

Their programs  are almost identical:

Ineligible tickets: Basic fare, part of a group of 10 or more, and code-shares.

  1. How?   Google “bid for upgrade Westjet” or "bid for upgrade Air Canada" and you’ll find the correct page; or do it on your Westjet or Air Canada app.
  3. When Will You Hear Back?  5 days ahead for Westjet.  2 days ahead for Air Canada.  Whether your bid succeeds or fails you will receive an email.

Advice on Making a Successful Bid: 

1. Wait to as close to deadline as possible (ie. ahead of 5 days for Westjet, 2 days for Air Canada).  There is no advantage to an early bid.

2. With the help of your travel consultant, assess how many seats remain in the cabin you're bidding on (eg. business class, premium economy).  The fewer seats remaining, the greater the demand will be.  Your consultant will factor in Air Canada's Altitude upgrade program to help you better assess demand on Air Canada.

3. Have your travel consultant compare the current price of business class vs economy class.  That amount will give you a better idea of what is a reasonable amount to bid.  Note: do not factor in what you actually paid on your airline ticket.  Neither airline cares at this point:  they will be awarding upgrades to the highest bids because this is "new money" for them.  It is irrelevant what you actually paid when you bought the ticket.*

4. There will be a "slider" graphic on the bidding site.  This will indicate the minimum bid, a moderate bid, and a strong bid.  Obviously, the stronger your bid, the more likelihood it will be accepted.  Based on #1 and #2 you will have to make a judgement call on just how strong your bid should be.   Unless the cabin is virtually empty, it is logical to assume that only bids falling between the "moderate" and "strong" areas of the slider will be successful.

Have fun, and good luck!

*You might want to look at what you paid on the ticket to personally assess if the bid is worth it; but in terms of understanding what the airline is likely to accept, that information is irrelevant at this stage.





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