Despite profits already tripling to HK $2.62 billion (US $338 million) last year, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific is hoping to squeeze more money out of passengers willing to pay a little extra.
The new plan would open up available premium seats to all passengers, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP). The move would sell premium economy and business class seats at lower prices, allowing planes to fly fully booked more frequently.
"Customers would be invited to place an offer for their booked flights via a website prior to their departure date,” said a spokesperson via online aviation forum, Flyer Talk. “If their offer was successful they would be advised around four days prior to departure and the offer payment collected."
The auction would be geared to award the highest bidders, but economy passengers and Marco Polo Club members are currently offered upgrades by sales agents for a one-off fee.
Air New Zealand is one of a few carriers that have already introduced online bidding, but there has been much debate online as to whether cash upgrades should supersede loyalty program rewards. Cathay is also a founding member of Oneworld, so frequent flyers of the alliance may also be concerned if a precedent is set.
"We are examining new initiatives that will allow us to offer passengers, including our Marco Polo Club members, different ways to get an upgrade. At this stage the project is still in the study phase," a Cathay spokeswoman told SCMP.