Best Tip for a Cheap Flight Upgrade

by | Nov 2, 2017 | Asia, New Zealand | 6 comments

This is my best travel tip for a cheap flight upgrade


I find it difficult to rationalize the price for a first class seat on a plane. It feels like I am paying a lot of money for a very small hotel room with a shared bathroom down the hall. An economy ticket gets me to the same destination, just in a smaller seat.

I was very excited when I booked our tickets from Toronto to New Zealand on Air New Zealand. I felt fine about my decision to fly economy … until I started not to feel so fine about it. The flight from Toronto to Vancouver is 5 hours. The flight from Vancouver to Auckland is 14 hours. Somehow, the trip sounds much longer when you factor in the time change: we were scheduled to leave Toronto on Wednesday and would arrive in Auckland on Friday. I started to investigate upgrade options!

I stumbled upon an article that describes an upgrade option where you make a bid to move up to a better class. Many, but not all, airlines offer this option. Air New Zealand allows booked passengers to make a bid to move up one class. Air New Zealand offers three classes: economy; premium economy; and business class. Since I had booked economy tickets, we could bid to move up to premium economy. The seats in premium economy are like a LazyBoy chair. The food is excellent and is served with real dishes, glasses and cutlery.

How much should I bid to move up one class? The article gave good tips. If I really wanted a better seat, it said to pay the full fare. Otherwise, I could make a bid and hope for the best. The article describes a strategy to make a bid:

  • calculate the difference between the cost of a ticket on economy and premium economy. The difference is $1,700.00.
  • Make a bid somewhere between 20% and 40% of that difference. I placed a bid of $340, 20% of the difference, the lowest bid that Air New Zealand would allow.

Air New Zealand has a scale that rates the bid from very weak to very strong. My bid was rated as very weak.

Just as we were boarding the plane in Toronto, I received an email from Air New Zealand: Congratulations! Your bid was accepted.

Here is the link to the article that got us better seats for 20% of the price:

We arrived in Auckland at 5:30 a.m.

With great meals, great New Zealand wines and a big reclining lazy-boy seat, we managed to get some sleep. We were ready for a full day of adventure in New Zealand.

We reserved a rental car at the airport. Customs was a breeze and we were in our car before 6 a.m.

Norman suggested that we drive to the top of Mount Eden to catch the sunrise. We would then drive to Bay of Islands and catch the sunset.

Wow! It is not often that I catch a full moon, sunrise and sunset on the same day, after a flight that started on Wednesday and touched down on Friday.

New Zealanders drive on the other side of the road

The LOOK sign on streets reminds tourists to look the other way when crossing the street. It took us a while to get used to other-side driving in the rental car. Everything is the mirror image of what we are used to, except the gas pedal. When it rained, we turned on the blinker. To signal a turn, we turned on the wipers.

Auckland is a City of Volcanoes

There are 50 dormant volcanoes in Auckland. (They are dormant, not extinct).

It is about a 20 minute drive from the airport to the parking lot for the trek up to the top of Mount Eden. It was still dark when we parked, but lots of locals were hiking already. We were not the only ones on the trail.

It is not really a trek to the top. It is a lovely 20 minute walk on paved paths. The air was very fresh and clear. It felt invigorating after a very long plane ride.

Mount Eden is the highest volcano in Auckland. From the top, there are 360° views over the city and harbour.

The centre of the volcano (the caldera) is 50 metres deep. Do not roll down the hill! It is a intense, almost luminescent, green.

The scale of the volcano is hard to capture in a photo. If you look at the top, right side of the photo, you will see little black specks. These are people hiking around the perimeter of the volcano.


A sunrise hike is a great way to get over jet lag.

We reached the top of Mount Eden as the sun was rising

The sunrise was spectacular

After our brisk sunrise walk, we felt ready for our 4-hour drive to the Bay of Islands. (more on that in a later post).

We returned to Auckland the next day to catch a flight to Sydney for the International Bar Association conference: 4,000 lawyers from around the world converged on Sydney for a week of professional development and serious fun.

This is a short blog to introduce you to our arrival in New Zealand before we set off for our final destination: Sydney, Australia


Up Next:
Join us on one of the most spectacular coastal walks in the world, from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia


Rose Ann MacGillivray

Rose Ann MacGillivray

World Heritage Traveller at
I love visiting World Heritage Sites, celebrating the world’s most fascinating places and cultures, and most of all, having fun on a trip. Join me on the road to fun and fascinating places. Thanks for reading – and remember to add your e-mail below for updates!
Rose Ann MacGillivray