Frequent flyers are used to spending points for upgrades, or even being offered bargain-basement rates at check-in to pay their way into business or first class seats.
But Air New Zealand -- ever the innovators -- have a new option for upgrading: OneUp auctions, where you bid a set amount before your flight for an upgrade to fully flat beds in Business Premier or more room in premium economy Spaceseats.
OneUp is currently in trial mode, and only on direct bookings to North American cities Vancouver, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
(On SF and Vancouver routes, you'll find older planes with more conventional premium economy seats rather than the Spaceseats, and you won't find the improvements to Business Premier seen on Air NZ's newest Boeing 777-300ER planes.)
According to an Air NZ spokesperson Australian Business Traveller talked to, it works like this: "Economy and Premium Economy customers are invited to place a bid to upgrade to the next cabin class by nominating the dollar figure they would be prepared to pay. Customers whose bids are successful are advised a couple of days before travel."
There's a coloured status bar that shows how likely you are to succeed in your bid before you click OK.
The status bar indicates the strength of the offer being made. It's green when the offer being made reaches the average level of past successful offers (although it's no guarantee that any bid will be successful). When the bar turns red, it indicates that history shows your bid is "likely to be too low to be successful", Air NZ says.
So how many people will get an email offering a OneUp upgrade? "The number will vary, depending on expected loadings," Air NZ's spokesperson told us.
And you'll need to have booked through Air NZ itself, not Virgin Australia or any of the Kiwi airline's other partners: "Offers can only be made to those passengers that have booked an airfare directly with Air NZ and for whom we hold a valid email address."
If you're an Air NZ Airpoints frequent flyer, don't worry, your existing confirmed recognition upgrades (which used to be called complimentary upgrades) will clear ahead of OneUp upgrades: "OneUp upgrades will occur after Loyalty (Air New Zealand Airpoints) upgrades have been allowed for" the aitline spokesperson assured us. "Upgrades that would have occurred prior to the OneUp programme will continue to occur."
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.