Customers bidding on seat upgrades when travelling with Etihad will now get real-time notifications of their bid on their screens along with receiving updates sent to their email or phone when another passenger has outbid them.

The change is part of Etihad’s shift to a “dynamic live auction” that the airline says will make it easier for passengers to secure upgrades to premium seats.

With the real-time on-screen bid notifications, the new system will allow for two or more individual bids at the same time. And while Etihad Guest members currently cannot use miles to mid on upgrades, the airline has stated it plans to introduce this feature in future.

“A first in the region, this dynamic live auction will give guests the chance to select a premium offering at a price they are willing to pay by putting them in control of the experience,” said Jamal Al Awadhi, Etihad Airways head of guest experience commercial.

“This new gamification layer will also add a fun element to travel before the journey begins, as passengers compete with each other. Our mobile responsive website makes it even easier for guests to bid on the go.”

Etihad has offered upgrade bidding since 2012. Passengers are sent an email invitation to bid seven days before their scheduled flight with the actual auctions being held from 24 to six hours prior to the departure time.

According to the airline, upgrade bidding is particularly popular among travellers flying on its Airbus A380 aircraft on routes from Abu Dhabi to New York, London, Paris and Sydney.

The change to a dynamic auction comes at a time when the Abu Dhabi-based carrier is introducing numerous changes as it tackles a loss of just over US$1.5 billion from 2017.

Over the past 12 months this has included removing free chauffeur services at all its international destinations as well as introducing buy on board options and seat selection fees in economy class, and reducing checked luggage allowance on premium fares.