Last year, Singapore Airlines introduced a new concept that allows customers to bid on upgrades. This is something that is more common among Asian carriers, at least to my knowledge, but I haven’t heard of too many people who have experienced this in the past.
The bidding process for SIA comes via e-mail invitation for eligible itineraries up to 7 days prior to departure. I am booked on an SIA flight from San Francisco to Singapore, SQ 1 (via Hong Kong) leaving Friday morning on July 28.
Well, around 11:30 PM Central Time yesterday evening, I received this e-mail from SIA:
So, not knowing very much on the subject, I clicked the link and looked through the Terms and Conditions of the offer. This is what you’ll encounter on the website when clicking on the flow
So, in a nutshell, you are allowed to make a bid within a preset range to Premium Economy Class. The lowest bid I can make is $215, and the highest is $480. There is a meter that shows the “Offer Strength” correlated with the bid price, denoting that a low bid of $215 is “poor” while a bid of $310 is, “medium” and a bid as high as $410 is considered, “strong.”
After placing the bid, you can make, change or cancel the bid for the upgrade any time up to 50 hours before departure. If the bid is successful, then you’ll get an e-mail notification 48 hours before departure, and will only be charged if your bid clears.
Now, if the bid is successful, then you get to enjoy the full Premium Economy class experience, which you can read about in the Trip Report that was published on The Points Guy above, and which has the features I’ve listed below. However, you do not get to reap the benefits of Premium Economy from a fare family perspective, meaning that the original class of service will be what reflects in mileage accrual (I plan on crediting this flight to Virgin America then transferring to Alaska).
This is what the flow appears like on the bidding website:
What Premium Economy Gets You on Singapore Airlines
Per the bidding site, SIA does a nice job rolling the perks of Premium Economy into the flow. You can scroll through a few photos and get the following details on Premium Y:
- Priority Check-In, Boarding, and Baggage Handling
- Gourmet Experience with Premium Economy’s “Book the Cook” menu. This means that, from San Francisco, I am eligible to customize my meal choices (and this is in Premium Y!)
- 38″ of seat pitch, 18.5-19.5″ of seat width, 2-4-2 layout and noise-cancelling headsets
- Extra luggage allowance (not applicable to me)
So, in all honesty, the biggest perks are the extra seat comfort and enhanced meal service.
Here’s My Conundrum
At first glance, this seems like a really tempting offer and truthfully, I’m surprised that I was even eligible given the fact that I paid less than $700 for the one-way fare from SFO to SIN via Hong Kong. That being said, the price for Premium Economy, at least at the time of booking, was nearly double that amount.
However, the other reality is that I made the conscious decision already to pay $100 for a bulkhead seat. The reason why I did this was that my fare class, being as inexpensive as it was, did not permit me to pre-select a seat on SQ’s website. Therefore, rather than risk the odds of being stuck in the middle, I decided to opt for an exit row seat, albeit aisle (even though I prefer window).
Secondly, the cabin (at least according to SeatGuru and SIA’s website) is 9-abreast, which is very generous, as-is, for a 777-300ER. Not to mention, SIA is already known for having a really good Y – class product. Since the flight leaves SFO at 1 AM PST, I wasn’t expecting the need for a flat-bed seat anyways, given that my body clock should really permit me to eat and pass out. That being said, it is a very long flight from San Francisco to Singapore, including a stoppover in Hong Kong…
I’m a bit torn on what to do. The bid price isn’t outrageous, but it isn’t cheap, either. I’ve heard stories about people who have bid on the low end of the stick and been successful, and even others who have done this and been given mileage credit as though they were booked in Premium Economy as the original class of service (although I am not counting on that to happen).
So, what do you guys think I should do? If I were to make the bid, and say throw my hat in for $250, if I were successful, I’d be out $350. Is Premium Y on SIA worth it to pay that much extra for the upgrade? Moreover, what if I get put into a middle seat and lose the aisle? Wouldn’t it be better to be in an aisle seat in Y (that’s also bulkhead) rather than a middle seat in PEY?
Ideas, suggestions and anecdotal thoughts are always welcome 🙂