TAP Air Portugal Will Start Auctioning Off Excess Business Seats

TAP Air Portugal recently announced it will be putting excess business class seats up for sale via auction in the 24 hours before flights depart. Tickets auctions will be conducted through the SeatBoost app, which will allow users to see real-time information about bids.

A TAP Air Portugal Airbus A320-214
TAP Air Portugal will now allow passengers to bid for upgrades via app. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

Last week, TAP Air Portugal announced it would be making unsold business class seats available for purchase via auction.

In a new partnership with SeatBoost, TAP Air Portugal passengers will be able to upgrade their seats to business class, depending on availability and demand.

The auctioning process will be opened 24 hours before flights are scheduled to depart. Passengers will be able to bid until 60 minutes before departure.

The winning bidder is then issued a new boarding pass, after which they can enjoy the luxury of their new business class seat.

What is SeatBoost?

SeatBoost is an app specifically designed to allow airlines to run auctions on their seats.

According to reports by Business Traveller, SeatBoost ran a trial of its system with the now defunct Virgin America between April 2016 and July 2017.

Using the feedback it gained from this trial, SeatBoost then fine-tuned the app and the bidding process.

TAP Air Portugal Airbus A321 CS-TJHTAP Air Portugal Airbus A321 CS-TJH
TAP Air Portugal is SeatBoost’s first international carrier client. Photo: BriYYZ via Flickr

The app received positive feedback from the trial, and even the team at SeatBoost were surprised by the extent of its success.

“We were most surprised and excited by how passengers responded to it, especially at the gate in the airport when their flight is top of mind. Travelling can be stressful, we saw that winning an upgrade made people feel really good,” a SeatBoost spokesperson told Business Traveller.

Bidding for seats in the commercial airline industry

TAP Air Portugal is actually the first international carrier which has implemented SeatBoost’s app.

However, a number of other airlines have their own bidding processes for seat upgrades, including Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, Norwegian and Virgin Australia.

The bidding processes for these airlines all appear to be much less comprehensive. Rather than being available through a real-time app, like SeatBoost, passengers apply for upgraded seats with their own price proposal, and have to wait to find out if they were successful.

How will TAP Air Portugal implement the system?

An unrestricted bidding process for business class seats has the potential to become a massive money pit for an airline.

As a result, TAP Air Portugal has included a number of restrictions on the new process to ensure they are not getting rid of unsold business class seats for €40.

TAP Air Portugal Airbus A320-214
TAP Air Portugal will be able to set the starting bid for its business class seats. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

First of all, the airline will be able to set a starting bid for the seats put up for auction on the SeatBoost app.

This starting bid will be determined based upon a number of variables, such as the individual route and flight duration.

Additionally, TAP Air Portugal will now allow standard business class upgrades up to 24 hours before a flight, and 72 hours before flying using cash or miles.

Unfortunately, TAP Air Portugal was not available to respond to Simple Flying’s request for comment on the new bidding process.