Flyers Can Now Bid for Upgrades on Etihad

Following El Al's recent initiative, Etihad is also offering economy ticketholders the chance to bid for an available space in its business-class cabins. Here's how you can take advantage of Etihad's offer:

  • Book a confirmed economy seat at least five days before departure, and only through Etihad's website, call center, or ticket office. Most economy fares qualify, although the system excludes promotional fares, various award and pass tickets, and travelers with infants.
  • Etihad notifies you by email, five days before departure, of the number of business seats available for bid.
  • If you're interested, you submit the amount of your bid and a credit card number.
  • If you're on connecting or stopping flights, you have to bid separately for each segment of your itinerary.
  • Two days before departure, Edihad tells you whether your bid was successful.
  • If your bid was not successful, you cannot rebid on that same flight.

Etihad says that its online upgrade page will provide a general indication of the strength of a given upgrade bid: poor and unlikely to be accepted, below past successful offers and unlikely to be accepted, in the range of past successful offers with moderate chances, and a good offer with a good but not guaranteed chance. The carrier also says that the success of each offer will depend on a combination of the amount of your bid, competing offers, how much you paid for your original ticket, your status within Etihad's frequent-flyer program, and the number of available seats.

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The system also works for upgrades from business to first class, but I suspect most of the interest will be from travelers who initially buy economy tickets. As with the El Al system, it's far too early to provide any bidding guidance.

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