Many airlines have been offering upgrades via bidding for years. Jet Airways introduced bidding for upgrades in April 2018. Air India has now joined the bandwagon. Air India used to provide an option to ‘Upgrade for Sure’ for many years now. They have now partnered with OptionTown to offer Bid for Upgrades. Here is how Air India Upgrade bid works.
Currently, you can bid for upgrades on both domestic and international flights departing from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chennai only. Air India has a separate website where you can find all the details. Other sectors still have the fixed price upgrades going for them.
There are two types of bids, Lite and full upgrade. You receive clearance for the lite upgrade an hour before departure, at the boarding gate, whereas for a standard upgrade you can get the upgrade as you check in, up to 4 hours before departure. The process is pretty straightforward. There is a fixed base price above which you can increase and place your bid. You will receive a refund within five days if upgrades don’t clear.
If you notice, the full upgrade, given it is at the counter, gets you associated perks such as security clearance, lounge access and other stuff. But in both cases, a meal of the cabin you are flying in is not assured, so perhaps they will pull a meal from your original cabin if they don’t have a spare meal in the upgraded cabin.
Air India is claiming to offer savings of up to 75% if you bid using Upgrade lite. They do provide a good Business Class experience especially on their newer Boeing 787-8s. Air India also flies their widebodies on domestic routes like Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata and Delhi-Hyderabad routes.
Note: Each bid is valid only for one flight segment and one passenger. If you have more than one flight segment, you need to place bids separately for all segments, and by default, all passengers in the PNR are enlisted for an upgrade. Mileage accrual and baggage allowance will remain as per your original flying class. You cannot directly Bid to First Class from Economy class.
This is a list of all the FAQ on the subject issued by Air India.
There are many routes to travelling up front, and airlines have continued to monetise travel in the front row. The effort is always to fill-up as many seats as possible for money rather than leave them empty. Good move from Air India to fill up those empty seats. I think this is a great improvement from Air India which is taking steps to improve the passenger experience. The availability will depend on sectors.
Have you already tried out the Air India upgrade bid process? What has been your experience?