Flying from Las Vegas? You can bid for a Virgin America first class seat

How much would you bid for a Virgin America first class upgrade?

This is something the California-based airline is now testing, albeit on a relatively few flights. Starting last week, Virgin America began allowing passengers on many Las Vegas flights to bid at the last minute for first class seats. The airline explained its plan in a blog post. 

Here's how it works. 

  1. Upgrades will be available on flights with empty seats leaving Las Vegas. They will also be available on flights from San Francisco to Las Vegas. 
  2. You must download a mobile app called Seat Boost. 
  3. In the app, you log in using your flight confirmation code and credit card.
  4. You make your bid.
  5. Then you monitor the "leader board" to see what others are bidding. 
  6. If you win,  you go to the agent and collect your boarding pass 

I like this idea. Except when Las Vegas is hosting major conferences, the first class cabins on these flights are either empty or filled by people on cheap fares. This is a good and inexpensive way for Virgin America to see if there is an appetite for auction bidding. Other airlines just give these seats to elite frequent fliers, but Virgin America doesn't play that game - even loyal customers must pay to sit in first class. [The airline has tested bidding before, as Runway Girl Network explained in a recent post.]

What I haven't seen from Virgin America is whether there will be a minimum bid. Virgin America has an above average domestic first class product, but on some of these flights - like on a Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. - there's probably little to no market for first class. Conceivably, a winning bid could be $10 or $20 at those times. Will the airline accept such a bid?

I'm addicted to my iPhone, and I like market-driving pricing. If I flew Virgin America from Las Vegas, I would certainly bid on a first class seat. Would you?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section. 

Curious about what other airlines offer upgrade auctions? The Points Guy did a post about auctions earlier this year. 

H/T Henry Harteveldt

UPDATE: I have learned the the minimum bid is $10 and you may bid as many times as you would like. 


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