Air Canada Auction Bids Farewell to Empty Seats

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1.49min read

Published 9 March 2017


Going once, going twice…

Air Canada already has customers sold on an upcoming service.  The airline has introduced an online platform to sell its premium cabins and services.

Ticket holders for select Air Canada flights within North America may qualify to bid on upgrades, in an auction-style format.

AC Bid Upgrade presents passengers with a unique opportunity to upgrade to a higher cabin class or enjoy the associated perks.



Air Canada expects to implement its AC Bid Upgrade program this summer. Eligible customers may place bids on select flights and destinations, on board Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express.

Air Canada is offering this innovative service in a bid to generate revenue from empty seats.

Spare premium capacity is costly to airlines. By auctioning off seats and upgrades, even at a cheaper rate than market price, mutually benefits those who can’t afford the experience of a higher cabin class, and the airline, as any sales will positively impact its bottom line.

Air Canada will notify eligible passengers which flights and ticket classes are available at auction, ten days prior to departure. The customer may place a bid on an upgrade at any time, up to 96 hours before departure. The successful participants will be notified 48 hours prior to departure. Winning bids are not transferable or refundable.

Online auctions will be conducted in a similar way to other online auction websites, culminating in a final price, where the highest bidder is rewarded.

“It’s really designed to appeal more to leisure customers who might not have a willingness or an ability to pay the published business-class fare up front, but might be willing to bid a reasonable extra amount of money for a discounted offer - Mark Nasr, Air Canada’s Managing Director of E-Commerce, Loyalty Programs and Ancillary Revenue.

Other international carriers have already launched successful airline auction programs. Like these other airlines, Air Canada is offering this innovative service in a bid to generate revenue from empty seats.

The firm hired by the Montreal-based airline to run the program is Plusgrade, also from Montreal. Data from this merchandising specialist reveals additional revenue is effectively achieved through their services. Other clients include Air New Zealand, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.



This type of initiative is in its infancy, so it will be compelling to see if Air Canada can raise significant ancillary earnings from its under-utilized cabins and service classes.

In the meantime, leisure travellers may bid farewell to airline ticketing as we know it, and say hello to a First Class experience!

Book Air Canada travel with Flight Centre. Get the lowest airfare before they're going, going, gone! Contact one of our Airfare Experts now.

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