Air Astana is introducing an upgrade bidding service.
Known as "MyUpgrade", the online tool allows economy passengers to bid for an upgrade to business class up to 72 hours before their scheduled flight.
The service is open to passengers who book eligible flights online through the Air Astana website. They will receive a pre-departure email inviting them to visit a secure online portal to bid for the upgrades.
Air Astana has set a minimum and maximum range for the bids with the cost for an upgrade set lower than a full business fare, while also ensuring that the airline's bottom-line income is not hit.
Once the bidding deadline passes, the MyUpgrade system will review all bids and send successful bidders their upgraded tickets via email. The higher the bid, the more likely an upgrade.
Credit card details are collected at the time of the bid, but Air Astana does not process payment until the winning bids have been confirmed. Passengers whose upgrade bid has not been successful will not be charged, and they will continue to be booked on their original economy fare.
Richard Ledger, Air Astana's vice president of sales worldwide, said: "Whilst there is no guarantee that customers will be successful every time they bid, it does provide an opportunity to enjoy Air Astana's business class cabin across a range of long and short-haul flights."
Air Astana will restart its non-stop service to Dubai this winter (see news, August 30).