Both Delta and United have been offering paid upgrades to domestic first class and sometimes to international business or first as well at various contact points that the customers have with the airlines from booking the ticket, checking itineraries online or at online/machine check in.
Note that Delta should be showing you the fare difference of the cabin you are booked at and the upgraded one.
Neither of these airlines have offered bidding based upgrades that American Airlines is now testing using technology provided by Plusgrade.
I wrote about the Plusgrade’s bidding based upgrades, when Copa implemented it (read more here) and my personal experiences with Etihad’s bidding for upgrades that are handled by the same company (read more here).
There is an accurate piece about this program on NBCDFW’s website here.
These bidding based upgrades are currently available only on domestic markets. You can access Plusgrade’s web page for AA here that you can use to check if your PNR is eligible for this product. You cannot submit your bid more than six days before of the scheduled flight.
Elite members should continue use their instrument based upgrades, as this program is only intended to those that are not eligible for elite status based upgrades or are flying on fares that cannot be upgraded using instruments.
American Airlines seems to stress that elite members wouldn’t be affected by this program.
The airline always set the floor for the minimum bid amount for the segment. It was quite low on my Etihad’s case, but I have not yet seen the floor that AA has set.
The airline promises to inform you before the check in opens, if your bid was accepted or not. You will receive all the benefits of the upgraded class. You will earn miles (or not) based on the original booking class.
It was inevitable that AA would at some point start monetizing the business and first class space that would have otherwise gone out empty. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me, if they would extend this to somewhat trump the elite upgrades, as United and Delta have both done already.
This will make it more difficult for elite members to do same day changes and confirm the upgraded cabin. The ticket purchases made during the last 24 hours may not clear as often due to bidding based upgrades sold.
United and Delta are using their own technology to sell the upgrades, but AA has decided to go with Plusgrade (at least for the testing period). Why would they want to share the revenue and not to keep it entirely for themselves?
Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:
1. The following terms and conditions (“Terms and Conditions”) shall apply to an offer (“Offer”) made by you (“you” ,”Passenger”) to American Airlines (“American”, “AA”, “we”, “us”) for an opportunity to upgrade from the class of service that was originally purchased for travel with American Airlines to a higher class of service (“Upgrade”).
2. You must be at least 18 years of age and able to enter into binding contracts. You shall be deemed to have the authority to act on behalf of and to bind the person or persons named or included on the Offer to these Terms and Conditions.
3. Passengers may only submit one Offer per flight which corresponds to your purchased ticket, and offers must always be made and paid by using a credit card.
4. An Offer, when submitted by you in association with a booking made with AA, whether made directly via the Plusgrade website or indirectly through other means, shall entitle the person or persons named on the Offer, subject to these Terms and Conditions, to be considered for an Upgrade.
5. American Airlines reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to decide whether or not to accept your Offer, and it makes no representation that any passenger will be upgraded regardless of whether or not seats are available in the class of service for which an Offer is being made.
6. You may revise or cancel your Offer through the hyperlink on the offer email within the time frame indicated in your confirmation email, provided that your Offer has not already been accepted by American Airlines and provided your credit card has not been charged. However, if your Offer is accepted before you cancel or amend your Offer, you are legally bound to complete payment for the price stated in your original Offer.
7. An Offer that complies with these Terms and Conditions will be valid (“Valid Offer”) from the time of its submission to American Airlines, with the validity of the offer expiring at the scheduled departure date and time, or, in the event that the flight has been delayed, the time at which the airplane doors have been closed for departure. Furthermore, should you cancel your Offer, using the cancel link provided in the offer confirmation email and within the allocated window, the offer shall no longer be a Valid Offer.
8. In the event American Airlines re-accommodates you on to another flight for whatever reason other than your default, any Offer you made in relation to the original booking may be transferred to the new flight(s), subject to availability of the upgraded class.
9. American Airlines may accept your Offer any time during the period it remains a Valid Offer. In the event AA accepts your Offer, your credit card shall be charged the full amount immediately upon acceptance, and AA will issue a new ticket reflecting your Upgrade to each Passenger included in your original flight booking. The total amount charged will include all applicable pre-payable taxes and fees (if any) for the Upgrade. The total amount that you must pay will be disclosed to you prior to you submitting your Offer. An Upgrade that has been issued by American Airlines can be changed or transferred only in accordance with applicable Fare Rules and/ or AAs Condition of Carriage or International General Rules Tariff.
10. The charge on your credit card may appear in the name of “AA UPGRADE 9177407291”, or similar, who are collecting the charges for your Upgrade on behalf of American Airlines. You agree that you cannot challenge or dispute a charge for reason of the name appearing on the credit card statement is as aforementioned.
11. There will be no refunds, credits, or exchanges once your Offer has been accepted by American Airlines and your credit card has been charged, except under the following conditions: a. The flight for which your Offer was accepted and you were upgraded was cancelled, and American Airlines re-accommodated you on another flight but in the class of service of your original booking, in which case the amount paid for the Upgrade will be refunded to the payment card that was used to pay for the Upgrade and American Airlines shall have not further liability to you. b. Your Offer was accepted and you were given an Upgrade, but you were not able to be seated in the upgraded class of service for reasons attributable to American Airlines, including, but not limited to, a change in equipment, a delay in the connecting flight that resulted in your missing the connection on which you were upgraded, but excluding reasons attributable to your actions, including, but not limited to, you on your own volition opting to change flights, you missing a flight. c. You are entitled to refunds, credits, or exchanges under applicable Fare Rules and/or and/ or AAs Condition of Carriage or International General Rules Tariff.
12. Should refunds be approved, they will be processed in the currency in which the Upgrade amount was charged. Such refunds would be limited to amount charged for the upgrade and no bank related charges, including but not limited to foreign exchange conversion and fees, will be refunded
13. The fare conditions for the original ticket you purchased shall remain in effect and will be applicable even if your Offer has been accepted and you have been upgraded, including, but not limited to, cancellation policies, change fees and rules relating to the accrual of frequent flyer miles.
14. If the Passenger changes his/ her ticket, American Airlines has no obligation to seat him/ her in the upgraded class of service, unless the Passenger pays for the Upgrade as per the airlines’ standard change policies and the policies and conditions associated with the fare class of original ticket.
15. American Airlines does not guarantee specific seat assignments to Passengers whose Offers are accepted and who are upgraded. American Airlines does not guarantee that you will be offered a meal for the class of service to which you have been upgraded, nor other amenities generally associated with the class of service to which you have been upgraded.
16. In the event your Offer was accepted and your credit card was charged the Offer amount but the Upgrade was not provided, you may apply for a refund at www.refunds.aa.com. Your request must include the original boarding pass for the flight in question. If you are not able to provide the original boarding pass for the flight in dispute, American Airlines is under no obligation to refund you for the amount you paid for the Upgrade.
17. American Airlines reserves the right to modify and otherwise change these Terms and Conditions. Except as provided for in the preceding sentence, no amendment, modification or waiver to these Terms and Conditions shall be binding on American Airlines unless made in writing and signed by an authorized officer of the airline.