Reader Question: Reasonable Rates For Cabin Upgrades Through Bidding/Online Offer – How Much To Pay?

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We received a Reader Question that leaned on my recent article about cash upgrades where the reader asked how much he should be bid in order not to overpay for an upgrade.

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Upgrading a single segment or even the entire round trip “can” make sense if you know the original price of the proposed cabin (easy to figure out before your initial booking, just compare different classes of service) and you have a fix limit in mind of how much you want to pay.

Last Friday I wrote about low priced upgrades to Condor Premium Economy Class (see here).

After this we received the following message from our reader Raul last night:

Hi guys,

went through Sebastian’s piece about Condor upgrades and wondered if it’s possible to upgrade my Lufthansa flight from GRU to Frankfurt next month.

Sure enough online it offers me the upgrade option to either bid for an upgrade with confirmation roughly 48h to 24h prior at a minimum rate of 240 EURO or confirm the upgrade to Premium Economy for 319 EURO. Is it really worth it?

The minimum bid for Business Class is 740 EURO. …

The reader brings up a good point even though it’s impossible to answer this in a way that can be used as rule of thumb for everybody.

There is a reason why there are different classes of service, namely because every passenger has a price limit when booking his/her travel. In short: You know yourself how much you can afford and how much you’re willing to spend.

My personal opinion is that it depends greatly on the duration of the flight. I considered the upgrade for my own flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok and having never tried Lufthansa Premium Economy I decided to bid 220 EUR (the absolute minimum) for the FRA-BKK sector. It’s a red eye flight of roughly 10 hours and a good test run for Premium Economy Class in my opinion. On the way over (SIN-FRA) I upgraded the ticket with 2 Miles&More eVouchers to Business Class which was a good use since we were almost 13 hours in the air.

Next to the bidding option for the minimum 220 EUR there was also the fixed offer at the rate of 1711 MYR (~350 EUR – the ticket was purchased ex Malaysia). I decided to roll with the 220 EUR offer as I find that 350 EUR is too expensive for just Premium Economy, I’d rather pay double that and fly Business Class or use another upgrade instrument.

I received the confirmation email that my offer was successful about 2.5 days before the flight and immediately selected my desired seat (window) before others do the same and I’m stuck with a middle seat which the Lufthansa PE cabin features as well.

Lufthansa just like other airlines use PLUSGRADE to facilitate the upgrade offer of their customers. The big advantage of PLUSGRADE: If an offer is accepted the booking class will be changed to an applicable revenue booking class of the new cabin of service and the passenger will earn mileage credit under this new fare code (in the case of Lufthansa Premium Economy it has been changed to N).That’s why I personally consider airline offers that are run by PLUSGRADE much more compared to other competitors on the market who only upgrade the cabin but not the fare class.

I had S class before which is a low (not the lowest, it’s still upgradable to Business with LH M&M instruments) booking class that would earn only 50% with both MIles & More as well as United Mileage Plus. The new N Class will earn me 100% with Mileage Plus plus 75% Bonus as Platinum Premier member. The extra miles could be seen as a smaller (or larger) discount if this approach makes you feel better about your investment. Especially if you need the qualifying miles!

Back to the question of the reader: How much to spend and is it worth it?

My answer to this is: If you can get a low price and obviously one that is within your financial means then go for it. I think the maximum I’d pay for an upgrade to Premium Economy is 250 EUR for a long haul flight. Since I carry elite status with all alliances I’m usually able to secure a decent seat latest at the check-in and I enjoy priority benefits such as lounge access and priority check-in.

Conclusion

For someone who has no status whatsoever such upgrades to premium classes can carry a much larger benefit as they’d otherwise have to stick to the sometimes horrendous lines for Economy Class passengers. Elite passengers circumvent these anyway so the advantage is restricted to on board comfort only.

It can definitely make sense to consider such upgrades as long as you’re not getting seduced into overpaying for it. Set a limit and stick to it!

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