Etihad Guest members can now use their miles to bid for upgrades on flights.

The carrier launched upgrade bids in 2012, but until now customers have had to pay for these using their credit or debit card.

Etihad Guest miles may now be used as the form of payment, and passengers can see real-time notifications of their bid displayed on screen, as well as receiving email and SMS updates.

Customers will receive an email invitation to bid on one-cabin upgrades seven days prior to their flight, with the auction taking place from 48 to six hours before departure.

The carrier says that in the future it is planning to allow customers to bid for upgrades using a combination of miles and cash, and will also extend miles payments to pay for Neighbour-Free seats.

Commenting on the news Jamal Al Awadhi, Etihad Airways Vice President of Products and Guest Experience, said:

“Etihad Guest members are important to us and offering them a new opportunity to redeem their earned miles is a sign of our commitment to them.

“Our customer experience philosophy is centered around choice and how our guests choose to enhance their journey with us.”

Earlier this month Etihad reported a loss of just under US$1.3 billion for its core airline operations in 2018.

The airline  is in the midst of a five-year transformation programme, which has seen route rationalisation, the removal of premium chauffeur drive services at international destinations, the introduction of buy-on-board choicesthe launch of a new Economy Space seating option, and the outsourcing of selected lounges to No1 Lounges.