What Delta could learn from Norwegian Cruise Lines in bidding for cabin / seat upgrades!

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Upgrades? Yes please.

First off, the simple stuff when it comes to cruising with NCL. I never ever book direct on NCL.com because I can get so much CASH back if I follow these simple steps and I can get the exact same offers Norwegian offers me. Once I have booked, then I can log in to my NCL account and make sure I can see my reservation and I keep checking it is there – especially as the weeks before sailing arrives as I do not want to miss out on a shot to bid on an cabin upgrade.

Only bidding on one room

How does this work? When you log in to your NCL.com account, and go to your next sailing, you should see the very top screenshot. Next, you see the next shot. The T&C for the “Upgrade Advantage” says:

Welcome to Upgrade Advantage. In just a few clicks, you can submit an offer to upgrade your stateroom on your upcoming cruise. Browse through the stateroom options below. Making offers on multiple rooms will increase your chances of getting upgraded, but you’ll only ever pay for one upgrade.

Here’s how it works:

Name your bid to upgrade your stateroom on your upcoming cruise, then click Continue.
We’ll notify you via email if your request for an upgrade has been approved.

If your offer is accepted, you’ll be charged for the upgrade. If not, you pay nothing and keep the stateroom you have. Offers are based on two occupants per stateroom for the entire duration of the cruise – only the first and second guest will be charged.

An interesting idea right, and I like it. You may be presented with only one single cabin to choose from or you may have a LONG list of many cabins to upgrade to that are available. You can bid on any number of them and then NCL will decide (and charge you) for one of them if you win.

I went low-ball

For me, on my latest Norwegian Epic transatlantic crossing I was already in a Haven Spa suite (review up soon) so I was not interested in the 2 bedroom Haven suite I was in last year. But a huge owners suite I went for with a low-ball offer. After all, the spa suite I was already in had “Mandara Spa” access free and the upgraded rooms would not. How did it go?

No upgrade for you!

Waaa waaaa waaa! No upgrade for you cheap-boy. But I was AOK with that and in the end really happy I did not upgrade as I had full Haven access and the Mandara Spa was really nice. If only NCL offered a shot at free upgrades for NCL Latitudes elites (oh to dream). OK so what does this have to do with Delta?

Umm.. hummm…

We should all know Delta loves to sell upgrades. Why offer a “free” seat to a loyal elite who always flies Delta, week after week, spending thousands of dollars a year, when you can sell them cheap to a 1x a year flyer who is not loyal?!? Yes, I kinda have an issue with this. But as long as the price is high enough that Delta makes money (if they sell it) and so high that a 1x a year flyer says “no thanks” I am AOK with Delta selling these upgrades. But could they improve this with a bidding choice and one for many more seats like NCL does? I think so.

Think about this. Delta has segmented almost every seat on the jet into different groups. If you are not an elite seeing the seat map is a scary thing i.e. how many seats are blocked off as “preferred” or special seats (when they are not really). But like NCL, for every flight, Delta could offer folks to bid on any of these like:

  • Preferred coach seats
  • Exit row seats
  • Comfort plus seats
  • Premium Select seats
  • First class seats
  • Delta One seats

Why I like this from a company perspective is that it will get MANY more folks involved in the upgrade process and let those who really want to get the seats bid a high number. But when folks only bid a minimum amount, they may still get an upgrade and be happy (not that Comfort plus is really an upgrade – but Delta says it is).

Also this idea, as an elite who wants free upgrades, setting minimum floor levels for each of these seat types will block the crazy IT stuff that often happens when someone only has to click “Buy a first class upgrade for $9.50“! Again, I have no problem with Delta making money selling upgrades – I just don’t want them giving away upgrades for almost nothing. That crushes loyalty.

What do you think? Do you like this idea for Delta? Do you think Delta IT is remotely capable of implementing something like this (and making it work)? Have you ever bid on an NCL cabin upgrade and scored one? Let me know! – René



  1. Either Virgin or Qantas in Australia, or both, my memory is fuzzy, have a bidding procedure for seat experience upgrades. It can be done. In 2018, for the most part I just bought seats up front, provided just a few hundred more max, because complimentary upgrades seem to be incredibly rare. Thanks to this, I have over 2X MQDs and wish these rolled over like MQMs.

  2. I am a Delta Diamond cruising in on 4 million career miles. Is it right that if I buy a Delta ticket they have cut back on the mileage given based on price, but if I buy the same ticket on a partner, I would get more miles as it would be based on mileage, not price? `Also, if that partner is AF or KLM then not only would I get more miles, but I would be lounge access which is no longer available to Delta Diamonds?

  3. Lufthansa does this today going up a level. I put in low ball bids for PE -> J on a recent hop across the pond. It was easy to do and easy to understand.

  4. It all sounds so nice in theory but it is self-destructive. Why would anyone purchase a first class seat outright if they knew that they could bid on it?
    And NCL’s bidding is not transparent . I was in a 1 bedroom Haven Suite and I immediately bid the Maximum I could for a 2 bedroom suite. I did not get it. When I inquired as to how the upgrades were assigned I was told that there is no prescribed order. Imagine how you would feel if you didn’t get upgraded and someone else got the upgrade for the same price and then Delta wouldn’t explain their method.
    I just flew on Royal Jordanian Air and I bid the lowest possible for a first class seat and I got it (domestic flight).
    All these bidding airlines are going to pay a heavy toll And if Delta does it I will immediately sell my stock.

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