AirNZ makes passengers bid for upgrades via online auction

AirNZ makes passengers bid for upgrades via online auction

Air New Zealand's new 'bid for upgrades' auction system takes effect tomorrow, July 12, as the airline abandons the long-standing ability to purchase upgrades at a fixed price using Airpoints dollars -- Air NZ's version of frequent flyer points.

Under the new OneUp scheme, which the airline began trialling in November last year, travellers can bid in cash or 'Airpoints Dollars' for an upgrade to premium economy or business class.

If their bid is high enough they'll get bumped up, with the lucky few "advised a couple of days before travel" according to an Air NZ spokesperson.

Even Air New Zealand's most valued Gold Elite members will find their privileges slashed (or in airline-speak, 'enhanced') from the point-based perks they currently enjoy.

While most Australians are likely to funnel Air New Zealand points towards Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyer program, here's what you need to know if you're an Airpoints member.

How OneUp upgrade actions work

When you place your bid for an upgrade, a coloured status bar 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," an Air NZ's spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller.

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".

Airpoints Status perks slashes

If you hold Airpoints Gold status you've got the option to use Recognition Upgrade e-vouchers for one leg of a trip, but only to move up one cabin – from economy to premium economy, for instance.

Gold and Gold Elite members receive two Recognition Upgrade vouchers each year, while Silver members get one.

This means you could only upgrade yourself from economy to business on one leg out of four on an Auckland-London return flight" potentially leaving you stuck in Air NZ's awful ten-abreast economy class for three out of four legs of the 26-hour flight to London.

Gold Elite members will retain a limited version of points-based upgrades but can move up only one class of travel, compared to the previous ability to upgrade two classes -- such as jumping from economy straight to business (bypassing premium economy).

Airpoints privileges: going, going, gone...

An airline spokesperson had insisted to Australian Business Traveller just three months ago that frequent flyers would not be disadvantaged: "OneUp upgrades will occur after Loyalty (Air New Zealand Airpoints) upgrades have been allowed for. Upgrades that would have occurred prior to the OneUp programme will continue to occur."

Now that the bulk of those loyalty upgrades have been cut, the only benefit for frequent flyers is a promise in an email sent out to frequent flyers that: "Your [Gold or Gold Elite] status will be taken into account when your OneUp Upgrade offer is reviewed."

John Walton

John Walton (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.


  • wilsoni


    7 Mar, 2012 01:02 pm

    There aren't that many Aussie Airpoints members as far as I know. But this is causing uproar across the Tasman, where I travel frequently (and am an Airpoints member). The most common comments are that this is a "betrayal" and a "rip-off for profit". Some wonder if Air NZ will be dishonest in its dealings - claiming someone else got the upgrade with a higher offer when in truth the only offers they got weren't enough to "justify" an upgrade. Who would know, and few would believe the company line whatever it might be. I'm reviewing my future in Koru/Airpoints/AirNZ. 

    No member give thanks

  • AusFlyer


    11 Jul, 2012 01:01 pm

    Ah Air New Zealand trying too hard to do something different. I see this being a massive fail fairly quickly. Who wants to enter into a bidding war for an upgrade and as already mentioned, how does anyone know if they are fudging the bids so that they can get a higher price....

    No member give thanks

  • Libertyscott


    11 Jul, 2012 07:50 pm

    I understand that according to Air NZ's terms and conditions, those Airpoints members with two recognition upgrades can still skip from economy to business premier, whether Gold or Gold Elite.

    Of course the main degradation is that now the entire premium cabins are up for grabs for bids.  The enormous risk is that people who want premium economy, wont pay for it, but will buy economy and bid for an upgrade.  If one uses Expertflyer or even adeptly looks at the pricing of different cabins, it is easy to see if one is well sold or not.

    If it succeeds, it means NZ makes money from selling upgrades to people who wouldn't pay for the more premium cabins.  If it fails it will be because it incentivises those who WOULD pay for more premium cabins, buying below that and then bidding enough to upgrade.

    No member give thanks

  • htc


    11 Jul, 2012 09:19 pm

    I'm an Australian-based Gold Elite member. This doesn't really phase me too much. I'm sure as a GE I will continue to get looked after. I used to enjoy W to J confirmed upgrades when flying for lesuire at the Standby Rates; but it isn't a big issue. I will bid minimum amounts and hopefuly this loyalty is rewarded. It would be better if an equation was used to calculate. For example, a GE bid will be marked up 30%, a Gold bid marked up 15% and a Silver 5%. If there was complete clarity then it would save AirNZ answering tough questions. Would be interested to hear form others who know what bids win. From experience, AirNZ's Premium Cabins are usually full on the long haul legs; presumably from AP U/Gs.

    No member give thanks

  • Libertyscott


    11 Jul, 2012 11:03 pm

    A GE bid will be marked up 50%, a Gold bid 30% and Silver 10%.

    This was announced in the past day or so.

    I'd assume that a bid of say 400 airbucks from a Jade would then equal 440 for a Silver, 520 for a Gold and 600 for a GE.  It shouldn't be that hard for GEs to outbid the rest.

    No member give thanks

  • Brian Steel

    Brian Steel

    13 Jul, 2012 12:45 pm

    There is nothing wrong with Air New Zealand's economy class in a 10 abreast 777-300ER.  The seats are comfy and, as a six-footer, I find that legroom is more than adequate - much more comfortable seating than Emirates 777-300ER.  There is also the advantage of the microwave kitchens. Flying transtasman you can opt out of paying for a meal and just purchase, if needed, your own $5 snack and beverages. I believe that this option may be extended to long-haul.  I suggest the writer of this article try travelling at the back of the plane

    No member give thanks

  • Nick Brennan

    Nick Brennan

    13 Jul, 2012 03:36 pm

    has anyone successfully bid on an upgrade?  I'm very curious to know what they're going for?  are there any reserves?  any other things to know about?

    No member give thanks


25 Oct, 2016 10:32 am


Forgot Password

If you’ve forgotten your password, simply enter your email address below, then click 'Submit'. We’ll send you an email to re-activate your account and enter a new password.