SAA offers new product to bid for business class upgrades

South African Airways (SAA)has added this new feature giving economy customers a chance to trade their economy seat into a comfortable seat with premium wine, gourmet meals, and flat seats through an innovative bidding system.

The winners will be passengers that are ready to pay a reduced rate for this service, and the airline is a winner receiving unexpected revenue for seats they would have given away to premium customers or those wanting to use frequent flyer miles. The losers may be those that often got upgraded due to their frequent flyer status. The system generated a completely different priority list for upgrades on this South African carrier.

“Step-Up” allows customers to bid online for an upgrade on an upcoming trip where business class seats are available.

According to Tim Clyde-Smith, SAA’s Country Manager, Australasia, Step-Up follows other recent innovations that are a key component of the airline’s new customer experience enhancement program.

“Step-Up means eligible customers get an email seven days before their scheduled departure advising of available seats in business class on their booked flight. The email will contain a link to the Step-Up tool that enables customers to place their bid for a flight upgrade,” Tim said.

“The minimum and maximum bid range is dependent on the original ticket purchased and the customer’s destination,” he said.

“Bids will stop 72 hours before departure, and customers will be able to view, modify, or cancel their bids before the cut-off. Nothing is confirmed immediately, and the system creates a prioritized list of all bids. Following this, customers will be notified 24 hours before departure of the outcome of their final bid.

“For successful customers, their credit card will be charged with the amount of their agreed bid. For unsuccessful passengers, they retain their original itinerary and pay nothing.

“If the email address in the booking originates from a travel agent, they can bid on behalf of their customer (subject to that customer’s agreement). Alternatively the travel agent can pass the email onto their customer to allow them to bid directly.