When I was a kid, I loved the idea of upsizing my meals at fast food restaurants. After all, for a relatively small price, I got more fries and more Coke and honestly, I can’t think of anything better than that to put in my mouth. Other than the yummy cholesterol-lowering pills I’m now taking regularly. Total coincidence, surely.
But the idea of upgrading something I want, and getting more just by paying a small amount stuck with me. These days, you can upgrade everything from restaurant set meals to spa packages to hotel rooms. So it wasn’t surprising to hear that last month, Singapore Airlines introduced a new upgrade system, creatively called mySQupgrade.
In a nutshell, how does mySQupgrade work?
If you’re flying economy with Singapore Airlines, mySQupgrade now gives you the option to pay a little more to upgrade your seat to premium economy. Premium economy gives you several benefits over economy class, chief of which is a larger seat that inclines more than in economy. That means you’re not only paying a bit more to avoid the “cattle class” experience, but you also save money on treatment for deep-vein thrombosis or any other ailment you tend to get from being immobilised in your seat.
But, you have to know that mySQupgrade is invitation-only and it’s done via an auction system. Not only does Singapore Airlines decide which passengers are eligible for mySQupgrade, but said passengers also have to bid the highest amount to upgrade their seats. Basically, it’s the Mile High Hunger Games.
But the potential value of such an upgrade cannot be understated. Though premium economy seats are generally half the price of business class tickets, no one would consider them cheap. On flights from Singapore to Los Angeles, for example, an economy class seat would cost $1,927, while premium economy tickets would cost $3,767, or almost double. Imagine getting premium economy class tickets for only $2,500! You’d save over $1,200.
So the stakes are high, and with any competition, it’s good to know how to get an advantage. Here are 4 ways you can win your mySQupgrade bid.
1. Choose a flight that has lots of available premium economy seats
If it seems like common sense, that’s because it is. The easiest way to ensure that you get your mySQupgrade invitation to bid is to get on flights where premium economy seats just aren’t as popular. Presumably, these would be the shorter flights, where most people would be willing to endure economy class. When you get the mySQupgrade invitation to bid a week before your flight, the first thing you should do is see how many premium economy seats are still available.
Since you only need to confirm your bid 50 hours before the flight, finding out just how many seats are possibly up for grabs would let you know how tight the contest will be. If there are only 4 to 5 seats available, be ready to bid higher if you want to win. That brings us to my next point.
2. Don’t be stingy!
The mySQupgrade system has indicators of how strong your bid is. You will be told if your bid is “strong” or “excellent” depending on how high it is, and how competitive the bids are. As with any auction, there’s no guarantee of a successful bid. Of course, Singapore Airlines is smart in encouraging you to bid the highest amount you are willing to pay (obviously!) but the strength meter should provide some hints as to how much more you should be forking out.
When booking in a group, however, this can get quite expensive, since you’re bidding to upgrade all the seats in your booking. This brings us to our third point.
3. If you’re in a group, consider booking individually
Unfortunately, the mySQupgrade system works on an all or nothing mentality when you book as a group. Either everyone gets upgraded, or no one gets upgraded.
To get around this, it might be a better idea to book tickets individually. The logic behind this is two-fold – firstly, it’s probably going to be very expensive to upgrade multiple seats at a time, and secondly, the chances of you winning the bid is lower unless you’re all willing to pay close to the maximum amount.
By booking individually, the lucky ones in the group may get the invitation to bid. Of course, It goes without saying that you should also be prepared to be split up for the duration of the flight.
4. Be the passenger Singapore Airlines wants
Interestingly, mySQupgrade is open to all passengers, as long as the booking is made in Singapore. That means that the invitation to bid is not limited to just KrisFlyer members. That being said, you can be sure that the invitation is not given out at random.
To ensure your bid is the winner, you will need to meet several criteria. Of course, Singapore Airlines has not revealed any particular factors which they consider, but we can take an educated guess.
The price and fare type of your ticket is most likely a factor. Economy Flexi is more expensive than Economy Flexi Saver, which in turn is more expensive than Economy Saver. Expect those on Economy Flexi tickets to have a higher chance of winning the bid. Chances are, buying your tickets early is also a factor, since airlines will want to reward early bookings.
Have you been invited to bid via mySQupgrade? Share your thoughts on the system with us.
Angle and research by Zachary Low