Hawaiian Airlines launches business class upgrade auctions

Hawaiian Airlines launches business class upgrade auctions

Hawaiian Airlines passengers jetting between Hawaii and North America can now bid for an upgrade to business class – or ‘First Class’, as it’s branded – at a price much less than a typical pointy-end fare.

Using the same Plusgrade system adopted by Qantas, Virgin Australia, Cathay Pacific and more, Hawaiian’s eligible travellers will receive an emailed invitation to submit their bid around 10 days before their flight.

As always, the minimum and maximum bid that can be entered varies based on a number of factors, which Australian Business Traveller understands to include the length of your journey and the value already paid for your current economy ticket.

Successful bids are processed around 48 hours before your flight’s departure, from which time you’ll enjoy many of the same perks as full fare-paying business class travellers including priority check-in with a two-bag allowance and pre-flight access to Hawaiian Airlines’ lounges, where available.

Once on board, you’re free relax in comfort, either in the airline’s current-generation business class product or on its new lie-flat beds...

... progressively being fitted across the airline’s Airbus A330 fleet.

Hawaiian business class upgrades: the fine print

Keep in mind that for now, business class upgrade bidding on Hawaiian Airlines is limited to flights between Hawaii and the US mainland, which means you can’t upgrade between Honolulu and Sydney, Brisbane or Auckland, but can upgrade from Honolulu to other US destinations.

Also, the higher baggage allowance you’ll receive from a successful upgrade applies only on the upgraded flight – not your full journey, even if connecting – and if you’d pre-paid for an extra legroom seat in economy, there’s no refund given if your upgrade bid is accepted.

You’ll also not get a refund if you’d pre-paid for a specific economy class meal, but we’re told you’ll still be offered this in business class, in addition to the regular pointy end catering.

Seat selection for upgraded travellers also remains off the cards until online check-in opens, and as is common among other airlines, you’ll only earn frequent flyer points and status credits as per the original economy ticket you’d purchased, rather than at the usual business/first class rates.

But if that works for you and you’re willing to splash for an upgrade, make sure your reservation contains an up-to-date email address, or go one better and enter your booking details into Hawaiian’s new upgrade portal to see if you’re eligible and to lodge a bid.

Also read: Hawaiian Airlines launches new lie-flat business class seats

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter – we're @AusBT

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


  • brebbles


    17 Jun, 2016 12:02 pm

    Very interesting.  While disappointing that any Extra Comfort seat fee paid previously won't be refunded, I wonder if holding an EC seat is one of the factors taken into account when allocating bid amount ranges and successful upgrades?

    No member give thanks


19 Jul, 2019 10:48 pm


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.


Resend activation email

If you have not received the activation email, simply enter your email address below, then click 'Submit'. We’ll send you an email containing the activation link.