Last week I received an email from Cathay Pacific informing that I can bid for an upgrade on my SIN-HKG round-trip. This was the first time I have been offered to bid for an upgrade on CX and of course the first thing I did was to click on the email link.
And these are the benefits of upgrading.
I was booked on Economy V Class for a working trip that cost S$600. So I was quite surprised that CX is allowing upgrade to Business Class for one of the legs. My understanding for such has always been one class up (i.e. Y to PY, PY to J), so my first guess was that PY Class for the return leg was full and CX was cashing out for Y to J. Apparently my guess was wrong. Our Milelion
intern early stage investor Matthew kindly informed me that the return leg on CX635 has no PY class because it is a A330-300. Duh.
How much is CX expecting passengers to bid for upgrades?
There is no free lunch, unlike what some websites tell you. For such upgrades, only cash bids are allowed (no miles allowed) which is similar to mySQupgrade. On Cathay Pacific’s website, there is a helpful tool to tell you how good your chance is based on how much you are willing to bid for. See screenshots below for various offer strength.
Based on what CX is asking for the upgrade bids, I did a check for a revenue ticket to see how much a full Business Class round trip would have cost.
It costs $2,277.90 for a SIN-HKG round trip for the days I was bound for, so I take it as S$1,138.95 for one leg for a revenue flight. You can see that it is not good value if you are bidding for a Strong or Excellent chance ($1,055 and $1,310 respectively) to snag the upgrade to J class given the fact that my V class revenue ticket already has a sunk cost of S$600 (or $300 each leg).
On the other hand, it will cost a minimum of $755 to start the J class upgrade bid. Whether this is good value really depends on individuals and the chance of snagging the upgrade at this price will probably depend whether the airline will be able to sell more revenue J tickets from now till the bid closes or if someone outbids you. But I wonder will a minimum bid snag a J seat versus a reward booking…
Terms and conditions
There is a comprehensive FAQ page from Cathay Pacific regarding Upgrade Bid. Some good to know pointers are:
- Upgrade Bids are on selected routes only
- Bids must be placed 50hrs before departure of the first leg
- Changes and cancellation must also be done before the 50hr mark
- Marco Polo and Asia Miles members will have a higher chance in snagging an upgrade but the value of weighting is undisclosed
- Miles will only be earned in the original class booked
- Asia Miles redemption booking are not eligible for upgrade via Upgrade Bid
Just for the sake of it, I placed a bid on the 15 March. It was a very low bid of S$760 just to test water with no hopes of snagging an upgrade (but if I do, it is something that I could still afford). And on Wednesday when I arrived into Hong Kong (two days before CX 635’s departure), I received an email from Cathay Pacific.
Yup, I will be paying S$772 for the Business Class upgrade on the HKG-SIN leg on the A333. I was curious to know whether the J class seats were really so empty so I did a check on the internet check-in.
There are actually still 6 more empty J seats left on CX635 after the upgrade bid exercise. This got me thinking a bit. Maybe there could have been more empty seats and some of them were snagged by upgraders like me? Or perhaps I was the only one who bothered to bid because most people will find no value in a short haul flight? In any case, the upgrade was successful and we now have a data point that bidding with the minimum amount can grant you an upgrade to J. Now time to check out the new Deck.
Will you consider Cathay Pacific’s Upgrade Bid?