If you’ve ever flown in Economy Class, you know how uncomfortable it can sometimes be — especially if you’re taller. The seats are cramped, there’s little to no legroom, and you’re often jostled by the person sitting next to you. But, what if you could upgrade to a First or Business Class seat, with all its luxurious amenities and comfort? The good news is that it’s possible to do so for a small fee.

All you need to do is bid for it. Here’s how it works:

What is upgrade bidding?

Upgrading your airline seat through bidding is similar to a silent auction for empty seats. Analysts estimate that the travellers of economy seats are now bringing in millions of dollars for participating airlines that run automated seat auctions for Business and First Class on planes.

The trend, which is more prevalent among international airlines, gives Economy Class passengers the option to pay less to upgrade and alleviate the discomfort of a long-haul flight.

How does the bidding work?

How does the bidding work?
Image by cottonbro studio.

After booking a flight via their website, the airline will email you about upgrading. You can also check your bid eligibility by accessing your reservation on the airline’s website. There will be no charges unless and until your offer is accepted.

If you received an offer email from them, click the link. If you have not received an offer email, you may check your eligibility by entering your Airline Booking Reference and Last Name/Surname in the Check Your Eligibility box. If you qualify for their offer, you will be taken to the relevant landing page. You can then set your offer price using the slider provided.

The next step is to enter your credit card information so that payment can be made upon a successful upgrade. Before submitting your offer, check all details. If you’re flying with Malaysia Airlines, they will confirm your upgrade 48 hours before your flight. Upgrades result in a new ticket and a credit card charge for the offer price.

If you want to upgrade to Business Class cheaply, you should understand more about MHUpgrade. MHUpgrade lets you upgrade at your own price if you bought a Malaysia Airlines Economy Class or Business Class ticket.

Some international airlines that will allow you to bid on a First Class seat if you’re flying to and from Malaysia are Etihad Airways, Garuda Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia, Qantas, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways and more.

Meanwhile, domestically, customers flying on AirAsia can now reserve the seat(s) next to them in advance and place a bid on an upgrade, thanks to a partnership between AirAsia and Plusgrade.

Customers will have access to premium products and services that would otherwise be out of their price range thanks to the partnership’s ancillary services, such as upgrades and the ability to reserve open seats beside them. Life can be suite at 40,000 feet!