New Qantas “Bid Now” upgrades: How will they work?

Qantas announced recently that they are introducing a new way to upgrade called “Bid Now”. Under the new system, which will function alongside the traditional “classic” points upgrades, selected flyers will be offered the opportunity to bid for an upgrade using a combination of points and cash. It will operate like an auction, with bidders informed about successful upgrades 24 hours before departure.

It sounds good in theory but how exactly it will work, how much upgrades are likely to cost, how it will effect existing methods of upgrading and who will be eligible all remain to be seen. As Qantas has been a little sketchy when it comes to the finer details, we don’t know the ins & outs of the new system yet. But we do know some things.

Selected flyers on selected flights will receive an email with an offer to make a bid for a better seat. Although Qantas has not actually specified which customers will receive these offers, we believe that passengers who are booked on flights with light loads in the premium cabins and/or in a high fare class (e.g. a flexible economy ticket) are more likely to receive an offer. Your frequent flyer status may or may not play any role.

Customers that receive the offer can then make a bid. There will be a minimum points and a minimum cash component. The minimum points threshold will be 3,000 for domestic flights and 5,000 internationally.

Once the upgrades are in, the airline will process successful upgrades 24 hours before departure. This is after all classic upgrade requests have been processed but obviously before on-departure upgrades and operational upgrades (also known as Op-Ups).

If more than one person places a bid for one seat, Qantas would most likely give it to the customer with the highest bid . But how bids containing a mixture of points and cash will be compared is a bit of a grey area as yet. Qantas will probably assign a cash value to any points bidded then use the total amount to compare the value of bids. How much Qantas values one point is anyone’s guess but some suggest that the value could be fairly low. If this is the case it would favour bidders who bid higher cash amounts.

The announcement of Bid Now was received with mixed reactions by our online community. Some expressed concerns about how this might impact on other upgrade methods. While classic upgrade requests will still take priority, some fear that this will further reduce the availability of on-departure upgrades and op-ups.

Will likely not affect me personally but I don’t like this new addition to the upgrade pot. As the recipient of a couple of at the gate upgrades on International I think these will go the way of the dodo which is a real shame, not to mention a kick in the teeth to QF’s loyal FF’s.

Some of our members believe that this method represents a poor value way to use points. They also feel that having to pay a cash co-payment for an upgrade devalues their points.

Others see the new system as a welcome addition as it may give frequent flyers with low points balances an opportunity to upgrade.

For higher status flyers, I see this change as a negative, as it will further limit ODU and the fabled Op Up. Higher status flyers will generally have the points required for the upgrade anyway.

For lower status flyers, it is neutral to positive change, as they get to jump the ODU queue and can now upgrade from a very low points balance.

For now, the general consensus among our members is that one should certainly not rely on Bid Now for an upgrade, but place an upgrade reward request. It is likely to be better value for your points and you will have priority over Bid Now upgraders. However if you are prepared to take the risk of not getting upgraded at all, there is no harm in bidding the minimum amount and hoping for the best!

You can follow the discussion HERE.

(Members can also share information HERE about bid invitations they have received as well as successful and unsuccessful bids in order to give other members a better idea of the kind of bids being offered and accepted by Qantas.)


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]