Bidding for upgrades is nowadays one of the cheapest ways to ride in front of the plane if played correctly. It is also a source of additional revenue, as airlines are able to monetize empty business class seats.
Recently I booked a cheap IB one way fare MAD-BOS (for about 300€). When I logged into Iberia’s website to manage my booking and select seats, I got offered to bid for an upgrade to Business Class.
When clicking on the link, I was prompted to place a bid by selecting a number of hammers on the screen, each one representing a different bid value, and of course you get reminded that the larger your bid the greater the chances are you get upgraded:
The first thing I did after checking the bid values was checking on ExpertFlyer the loads of my flight to help me decide how much to bid. The business class cabin of my flight had at least 8 seats open 10 days before departure:
With that information, I decided to place a bid for the minimum value allowed, 320€.
Three days before departure I got confirmation that my bid had been accepted and my seat had been reassigned! Cheap and Easy!
I was able to succeed with a cheap bid because the business class cabin of my flight was wide open one week before my departure. I got a one way business class ticket for under 700€ (and I could review IB Business Class product).
Added to a cheap ticket (as it was my case), bidding for an upgrade is probably the cheapest way to fly business class in long-haul travel (mistake fares apart). The downside on IB is that upgraded tickets tier points and Avios accrual is per booking class, so in my case the discounted economy class accruals were added to my account.