American launches bidding program for First Class seats

Ever wanted to sit in first class but didn’t want to pay a usually-unusually-high-priced fee to sit in the big chair? American just launched a trial program called “Plusgrade” to allow you to bid on upgrading to the next highest cabin, potentially at less cost than if you just outright paid.

According to,

The process to submit an offer is fairly straight forward. For eligible flights and reservations, passengers simply enter the amount (per person) they and willing offer for the upgrade on each eligible segment on their itinerary. After a credit card number is supplied (which is only charged if the offer is accepted), the offer is submitted for consideration by American. Once submitted, offers may be modified, but if denied, a second offer can not be made. Accepted offers are legally binding.

From what else we’re reading, this has no impact on elite members’ complimentary upgrades, but I can’t understand how this is so. If I were an airline, I would put priority on taking money for first class seats over free upgrades (they’re in the business of making money), so I would imagine it might make elite fliers’ upgrades slightly less available.

Would you ever bid to sit in first class?

I wouldn’t – because I don’t feel domestic first class flights are generally worth spending extra money (I’d rather use that money for airfare or something else), and especially not if I have to pay for it (unless it was really cheap and a longer flight). Internationally? Well, that might be a different story – especially since I just flew 13 hours in Economy to Dubai yesterday…