Austrian Air is offering an interesting way for its fliers to purchase business class upgrades via auction. By naming their price, Austrian’s customers are bidding on the chance to enjoy business class amenities for economy class prices. The catch is that fliers must submit their
bids when booking their flights – then 72 hours before takeoff, Austrian will accept or deny their offers. This is an innovative strategy, but the timing of the airline's upgrade offer doesn’t coincide with the natural buying behavior of fliers. In our business traveler survey, we found that airlines are missing a major opportunity to earn more ancillary revenue by pushing upgrade offers to fliers at the right time – on the day they fly, and in the right place – via their mobile phones.
Top day-of-travel ancillary purchases
The top ancillary fees business travelers we surveyed would pay for on the day-of-travel include:
- In-flight WiFi 65.3%
- Seat with extra legroom 55.4%
- Business- or first-class ticket upgrade 50.2%
- Early boarding privileges 43.0%
Business traveler purchasing behavior
Business travelers are opportunistic purchasers – think about it, are you more likely to lay out even more cash when you’re booking tickets from the comfort of your home or office, or is the opportunity to buy access to business class lounges and fast-lane service more appealing during unforeseen delays when you’re stuck at the airport?
When fliers are more likely to pay ancillary fees
By pushing business-class upgrade opportunities to economy travelers a few hours before their flight, Austrian avoids the disappointment and possible resentment fliers will feel if their bids aren’t accepted. Although Austrian’s business-class amenities aren’t offered a-la-carte, the full-flat bed or guaranteed empty adjacent seat, priority boarding and fast-lane service hit right in the sweet spot of upgrades fliers are willing to pay the ancillary fee on their way to the airport or as they wait at the gate.
What’s your take – would you rather gamble in advance on the possibility of an upgrade at a price you think is fair, or buy a guaranteed one in real-time for a price the airline sets?