American Airlines Invites Passengers to Bid on Seat UpgradesTravel

American Airlines is putting its open seats in business and first class on the auction block. The carrier is trying out a new approach that allows any passenger to bid on an upgrade, somewhat similar to priceline.com’s “Name Your Own Price” model. Launched last week, the Plusgrade program allows travelers to make an offer six days before departure. If the airline accepts the bid, the passenger’s credit card is automatically charged. In addition to a roomier seat, the upgrade includes all the perks available to frequent fliers who trade in their miles, including priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling. The airline says that its AAdvantage elite status members’ upgrade requests will receive priority over bids. For now, Plusgrade is being offered on a trial basis and is limited to flights between certain cities. The airline won’t specify which cities, but the Plusgrade webpage includes a box for passengers to check whether they are eligible. usatoday.com

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