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I am booked to fly with TAP air Portugal soon. I got an e-mail about bidding for upgrading to executive class.

As I do not really care what class I fly in and it is a relatively short flight at 3 hours, I was intending to put in a bit for a few euro but found the minimum the system allowed me to bid is over €100 per single leg and from there it went up in big steps.

Is it usual that you can only bid more than the ticket had cost when you bought it or have I missed my chance on bidding a small amount by waiting a day or so?

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    I suppose that if you paid less than €100 for your flight, you are flying short haul. Upgraded are rarely worth it in this situation, but they probably apply the same rules they would for long haul. Also in some cases changing class implies a change in taxes (that’s the case for tickets from France at least), which would mean a minimum difference in total price which is not quite commensurate with the difference in service.
    – jcaron
    Dec 22 '19 at 14:40
  • Other airlines do this as well. I commented on a different question about my experiences with IcelandAir. Dec 30 '19 at 17:25
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+50

Bidding for upgrades is fairly common these days and many airlines do it, primarily in Europe. Typically there is a minimum bid that's fairly substantial.

Whether this is worth trying or not depends on your own preference. I won a $400 bid on a Tap Portugal flight from Boston to Lisbon. It's an overnight flight - Tap Portugal flies a really nice lie-flat configuration on this route. The $400 saved me food and drink cost in the airport and I was much better rested and functional the next day in Europe.

I did not bid on the return flight, since this was a pleasant afternoon flight and to me the extra money wasn't worth it.

If you like business class flying, bidding is a way to save money. A US->Europe business class ticket on TAP is probably around $3000 and an economy is maybe $600. If you bid $500 each way and get it, you get the business class for $1600 or about half the price.

As I do not really care what class I fly in

Then don't bid.

Is it usual that you can only bid more than the ticket had cost when you bought it or have I missed my chance on bidding a small amount by waiting a day or so?

They typically don't allow a small bid. The minimum bid (at least on international flights) is pretty substantial.

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It's a trap for you to spend more money.

I've seen it on Air Canada.

If you have spare money (enough for the minimum bid), you could do it and could be lucky that no one else out bidded you and you just "won" an upgrade.

The thing is that you have to check if the upgrade price is more than the total price+bidding that you pay; if it is, then it's a win situation.

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With TAP, and with other airlines, I have never seen a possibility to only bid "a small amount" for an upgrade: The lowest possible bid was always a rather high price, no matter at what time I tried to access it.

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As one who does this all the time:

  • Calculate how much you'd spend on the airport and in flight
  • Do you need fast track and a more private lounge?
  • Would you like some more frequent flyer bonus points?
  • A change to bring more luggage?
  • Want a better seat if available?

I just picked business over economy for 20€ which makes it totally worth it for a 7 hours flight where nothing would have been included in economy.

For a 1 hour flight I'd say 20€ is enough if you're not going to drink any alcohol.

I've seen the starting price vary a lot for the very same flight, sometimes 20€ and sometimes 100€.

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    The question was not whether to pay for an upgrade but whether bidding for upgrades really only starts at about €100 per leg.
    – Willeke
    Dec 31 '19 at 17:33

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