Airlines try auctioning off seat upgrades at the gate

Because aviation isn't already a perfect model for class war, privilege and the market's ability to erode comfort, pleasure and humane treatment.

One traveler tells the WSJ that he's taken advantage of the auction system with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, paying no more than $430 for a business-class upgrade.

In all, he says keeping the bid below $500 makes his total trip cost about $1,600, less than half of what buying a business-class seat outright would set him back.

In the U.S., Virgin America is currently testing the SeatBoost auction at gates in Las Vegas an hour before the flight departs.

Under the system, bidding starts at $10, $30, or $50 depending on the length of the flight and whether passengers are bidding on extra legroom in coach or first-class. Passengers can see the bids via a leader board posted by the gate.

Airlines Testing Auctions For Seat Upgrades At Gates
[Ashlee Kieler/Consumerist]