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How I successfully bid on an Ethiopian Airlines Business Class upgrade

a seat in an airplane

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How I successfully bid on an Ethiopian Airlines Business Class upgrade

Ethiopian Airlines operates a 787 in and out of Dublin with their new business class. It’s a great route that can be used to access Europe as it avoids a ton of taxes (boring) and fees (boooorrrring) that get tacked on to award tickets when flying through the UK or even France. What’s even better, is Ethiopian runs a buy up program for business class, or as they call it, CloudNine, prior to the flight. This creates an interesting value proposition when deciding whether to use points or just pay outright. In this situation, business class wasn’t an option with points, and coach was very affordable so I thought I’d give Ethiopian’s bid to upgrade program a go for a trip I’m handling for a loved one. Here’s how I successfully bid on an Ethiopian Airlines Business Class upgrade and saved over $2000. BYAH!

Here’s the cash rates for the flights. As you can see $620 vs $3500

How I successfully bid on an Ethiopian Airlines Business Class upgrade

and the earn rate based on fare bucket if you were to credit to Singapore Airlines…which I typically do now.

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 8.41.49 AM

The main factor affecting your bid to upgrade will be load. How full is the cabin? I use Expertflyer to check

Economy is on the left and business on the right. As you can see – it’s WIDE open.

Cabin is wide open so assuming the fare qualifies…I’d guess there’s a good chance of bidding and winning. They have a site setup for bids.

How I successfully bid on an Ethiopian Airlines Business Class upgrade

If your flight is eligible for upgrade you’ll see this:

The offers are given a sliding scale of strength. In this situation the scale was from $600 to $900. In most situations I’d recommend plopping a bid right down the middle, but there wasn’t a big financial difference between down the middle and strong. I wasn’t willing to lose an upgrade over $50 – $75 so I made a strong bid.
How I successfully bid on an Ethiopian Airlines Business Class upgrade

$775 isn’t cheap. But in total…that’s less than $1400 for a one way, close to flying, business class seat. That’s not terrible and it’s over $2000 cheaper than the discount business at $3500
How I successfully bid on an Ethiopian Airlines Business Class upgrade How I successfully bid on an Ethiopian Airlines Business Class upgrade

Less than 24 hours later I received a confirmation email. Yeahya!
How I successfully bid on an Ethiopian Airlines Business Class upgrade

In the end…I was able to book a revenue fare, earn some miles, and fly business for a fraction of the cost because of strategy and knowing some options. Hope this helps. BYAH!

*main photo is from Ethiopian’s Facebook page

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15 Comments

  • Kim Lianda Hanks April 3, 2019

    How far ahead of this flight were you able to upgrade? I’m trying to bid on upgrades right now for flights in August.

    • Miles April 3, 2019

      Kim – week of…would love to hear how it goes!

  • grendel alvarado November 22, 2017

    Hi there,
    How did your flight go? Was it easy to pick up the business class boarding pass? Did you experience any challenges?

    I’m curious with the cloud nine upgrade and wanted to try it but first I want to know from someone who was experienced the upgrade.

  • […] an experience about bidding on Ethiopian Airlines business class.  $775 is a little steep for me but I could definitely see situations where it would be worth […]

  • […] How I successfully bid on an Ethiopian Airlines Business Class upgrade […]

  • […] you missed it…I mentioned using the Bid to Upgrade feature that Ethiopian Airlines employs to secure an upgrade to Cloud Nine ( BOY THAT SOUNDS SNAZZY!) which is their business class […]

  • Stacy January 19, 2017

    Etihad does that as well but their minimum starts at 1100 one way for some routes..still a deal but not as low as “no offer”

  • Hari January 19, 2017

    I’m very interested in seeing how easy it is to pick up the new boarding pass! Good to know that this is available!

    • Miles January 19, 2017

      Thanks Hari – fingers crossed

  • Jason January 19, 2017

    Do they change the fare class to biz, or do you still earn mileage based on the initial fare purchased?

    • Miles January 19, 2017

      Right now it’s still Econ… but haven’t checked in will see after it credits to Sing

  • Uru January 19, 2017

    Make sure you write a trip report! Hope it’s not the angled business seat.

  • Chris January 19, 2017

    Pretty cool that they do this. Now a trip report on whether it was worth it to you to spend that

    • Miles January 19, 2017

      Chris – ya worked out pretty well! will report back on the cabin, etc – it’s not for me, but there will be a report -it’s a last minute ticket booked for a loved one on a quick trip to europe. Thanks for reading!!

      • Chris February 4, 2017

        Depends on the route whether winning the auction is cheaper than buying business in the first place. Between Europe and Africa, I have found that the cost of the two upgrades plus the original coach ticket is the same or higher than buying a discounted business ticket in the first place. This is specially true if you connect to a destination beyond Addis, for which you will need to buy two more upgrades. I recently flew to Kenya on a restricted ET P class business fare which awards no miles At GBP1,400 it was cheaper and more convenient than upgrading an economy fare.

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