Air passengers are to be given the opportunity to enter on-flight auctions to bid for seat upgrades to business and first class under a new scheme.
A selection of airlines in China and Canada have already adopted the process - and within the next two to three years, all airlines are expected to offer the service.
The auctions begin with an announcement being made over the loud speaker, letting passengers know that it is starting.
Cabin crew then pass down the aircraft to take bids.
Brett Proud, of retail and payment technology company GuestLogix, told the Herald Sun
that people are often willing to pay double their ticket price. "In Canada, people who paid $1000 for their ticked seem to be happy to pay $1000 to move up," he said.
Would you bid for a flight upgrade?
Airlines including Eithiad already offer guests the opportunity to bid online for upgrades. Customers determine the amount they are willing to pay for an upgrade and are notified on email about availability.
Other inflight innovations currently in the works include broadcasting live sports and ordering meals and duty free items on your smartphone.
Have you ever been asked to bid for an upgrade? Leave your comments below.
- Join an airline loyalty programme
Keep your eye on the prize: <b>elite status</b>. Airlines will give priority for upgrades to top-tier members. Pick an airline and stick to it. If you are a regular customer you are more likely to get those three coveted letters: <b>SFU</b> (Suitable For Upgrade) next to your name on the passenger list. Also, there are often rewards for accumulating miles quickly (usually over one calendar year) and different "perks" are awarded each time you hit a certain mileage tier.</p>
- Choose your carrier carefully
Points systems are not born equal. For example, with <b><a href="http://www.aircanada.com/en/home.html" target="_blank">Air Canada</a></b>, you can only use points for complete bookings in economy or business and cannot use points to upgrade from an economy ticket. If booking on <b><a href="http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airlines/home/au/en" target="_blank">Qantas</a></b>, you can buy an upgradeable economy ticket and request for an upgrade to premium economy or business. <b><a href="http://www.britishairways.com/travel/globalgateway.jsp/global/public/en_" target="_blank">British Airways</a></b>, on the other hand, makes it nearly impossible for those who fly economy short-haul flights to ever earn enough points to make it to the next level.</p>
- Travel alone
Obviously, this might not be possible! But it's worth bearing in mind that if you are travelling as part of a small group, an airline may not be able to upgrade everyone and, therefore, won't upgrade anyone at all.</p>
- Check in late
Checking in late means the economy seats are likely to have been filled, meaning you may get booked directly to business class. This is a very risky strategy, of course, as you chance not being able to get a good seat in economy, or getting split up from your travel partner.</p>
- Be plane picky
Pick a flight that will be using a plane with a large first class cabin. You can find out this information from sites like <b><a href="http://www.seatguru.com/" target="_blank">Seat Guru</a></b>.</p>
- Volunteer to give up your seat
Have time to spare? Every so often an airline will oversell the flight and will need volunteers to give up their seat. If you don't mind the delay, you can score a flight voucher and/or a free upgrade certificate (they've done this before on <b><a href="http://www.cathaypacific.com/cpa/en_INTL/homepage" target="_blank">Cathay Pacific</a></b>), and, before long, could find yourself happily snoozing in first class.</p>
- Pay full fare
If you purchased a full fare ticket and travel on an oversold flight, then you also have more potential for a courtesy upgrade.</p>
- Look smart
This won't be the reason why you get an upgrade, but not being dressed suitably could be why you don't. Take Victoria Beckham - we reckon she's never travelled economy in her life.</p>
- Charm your way
Once upon a time, being nice could result in someone at the check-in counter upgrading your seat. Nowadays, stories like that seem more like an urban myth. It may be rare, but it has worked in the past. When experiencing an airline issue, if you ask to speak to management and you articulate yourself in a professional, calm yet confident manner, you can find that you can get a free upgrade (if not this flight, perhaps another for another time) or other perks like free lounge access.</p>
- Marry a flight attendant or pilot
Practicality aside, if all else fails, this is a surefire way of increasing your upgrade odds. Knowing someone working for the airline definitely helps. Even if you can't get an upgrade for free, as family, you can purchase discounted business class tickets.</p>
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Staying in an Emirates First Class Suite is like booking yourself into a top-notch hotel: its 14 private suites (each costing £80,000 to create), offer a personal video library, massage-enabled leather seats, electric doors, a 23-in LCD screen, a dining table where you can eat a seven-course tasting menu on fine bone china, a built-in vanity table, luxury nightwear, and a beauty bag. Plus, Emirates is the first airline to install two fully-equipped bathrooms, called Shower Spas, where you can spruce up in style in a proper shower cubicle and changing area, with a hairdryer and full-length mirror. FInish with a spritz of Bvlgari perfume before meeting your friends at the First Class Social Area for a cocktail.</p>
- Cathay Pacific
Book a first class suite on Cathay Pacific, and you'll be in sky-high heaven. The luxurious suite triples up as a bed, armchair or chaise longue, and features a lumbar massage function. An ottoman and a table in your suite means you can invite friends or business colleagues round for a drink mid-flight, while your 17in TV means you can check out the latest movies in comfort. Luxury pyjamas and an Aesop amenity kit - not to mention the extensive fine-dining menu - make brilliant finishing touches.</p>
- British Airways
British Airways describes its first class experience as a 'veritable retreat in the sky' - and it's not kidding. Pre-flight, you can head to one of over 60 lounges, but it's the Concorde Room at London Heathrow Terminal 5 and New York's JFK that'll blow you away. Private cabanas offer day-beds and ensuite bathrooms, while the Elemis Travel Spa can cater to your every pampering whim. When you take to the skies, you'll be treated to a space with your own wardrobe, the first electronic blinds on a commercial aircraft, and a 400-thread Egyptian cotton duvet. When it's time to nod off, you can request the Turndown Service, and when it's time to wake up, you can treat yourself to the Dr Harris & Co goodies in your Anya Hindmarch bag.</p>
- Oman Air
Want to sleep in the longest lie-flat seat on any commercial airliner? Book into Oman Air's First Class Mini Suite, which also boasts a 23-in TV screen. With just six suites in the first class cabin, along with a luxurious lounge area, it's an ultra-exclusive area, akin, it says, to 'flying in an executive private jet'.</p>
A 6ft 6in bed, a sheepskin mattress, an eight-course tasting menu, a touch screen TV, and Payot Paris amenity kits are just a clutch of treats that'll have you feeling on top of the world in Qantas first class. What's more, you've also got your own personal phone and text messaging service, as well as teddy bear-soft pyjamas and slippers for a truly relaxing experience.</p>
- Qatar Airways
First class with Qatar Airways means exactly that - and you'll be hard-pressed to find a better seat. Like some kind of aviation Transformer, your multi-tasking chair will have built-in massage facilities, as well as the ability to turn into a mini-office, a cinema seat, and comfy flatbed. A five-star dining experience comes courtesy of the fine bone china, a la carte menu and hand-picked wines, while a personal turn down service, designer sleeper suit and soft blanket will help you get a stylish - and deep - snooze. Luxury Prada products in an exclusive amenity kit offer an upmarket post-sleep freshen-up. You won't want to get off...</p>
- Singapore Airlines
Forget first class, it's the Singapore Airlines Suites that take luxury to a whole new level. Your very own individual cabin features a hand-stitched leather armchair, sliding doors, window blinds and, wait for it, a proper standalone bed (ie not converted from a seat). Full-sized pillows, a turndown service, and Givenchy sleeper suit, bedding, slippers and tableware, all make for a real-life flight of fancy.</p>
- Virgin Atlantic
When you fly Upper Class with Virgin, your luxury treatment starts before you've stepped foot on a plane. Head to the Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow - the £11m flagship lounge - to relax poolside (yes, you read that right), enjoy a sauna or steam room, take in the views on the Observation Deck, get your hair coiffed at the Bumble and Bumble salon, or melt under a massage at the Cowshed at the Clubhouse. Once you're on board, you can slip into a leather armchair, which flips over into a separate bed with a mattress, which claims the title of the longest bed of any airline's business class section. </p>
Etihad's Diamond First Class is definitely every girl's best friend. When you've transformed your seat into a 6ft 8in flatbed, you can slip into your Ferragamo valise, slippers and sleeper suit, cosy up on the 600-thread Egyptian cotton sheets, and lose yourself in a movie on your personal 23-inch LCD TV. And when your tummy rumbles, you can order something fabulous from the a la carte Anytime Kitchen menu, and top it off with bubbles from your personal mini-bar. Bliss.</p>