Upgrade Plus: Air India’s New, Easy-to-use Cabin Upgrade System for Economy Flyers to Travel in Premium Cabins

Good news for those scheduled to travel on Air India! The Tata airline discontinued the ‘Bid Upfront Program’ and introduced an easy-to-use cabin upgrade facility with instant confirmation for select flights and select routes. The new program is named ‘Air India Upgrade+’ that you can use to upgrade your travel class from economy to premium economy or business for a fraction of what seats in higher cabins actually cost.

What is Air India’s Upgrade Plus program? It is a great opportunity for you to travel on cheap business class flights with Air India if you choose to upgrade while or after booking your economy tickets, and if you don’t mind paying a little extra fare for the luxurious comfort that Air India’s business class offers on nonstop flights to India from USA, Europe, and Australia.

Air India's Bid Upfront program Air India's bidding system for travel class upgrade, how to upgrade economy to business class, perks of flying business class

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What are benefits of Air India’s Upgrade+ from economy to business class?

The benefits include perks of flying in the business class, such as gourmet meals from Air India’s new inflight menus, luxurious seating, and extra baggage allowance. The other perks are priority airport check-in, priority baggage handling, and priority boarding. A successful cabin upgrade from economy to business comes with faster immigration clearance and expedited security through priority lanes for premium economy and business class flyers.

However, the benefits of using Air India’s Upgrade Plus to travel in premium cabins do not include complimentary lounge facility. Also, the fare conditions of original booking remain applicable even after the cabin upgrade. Be it cancellation/rebooking charges or flying points gained, it will be based on the original booking.

What are eligibility criteria for using Air India Upgrade+ from economy to business?  

To be eligible for Air India’s Upgrade+ program, you should have a confirmed flight ticket on the airline’s document number 098 and have a valid email id updated in the booking reservation (you will receive an upgrade invitation to this email). The flight you are scheduled to travel on must be operated by Air India.

Traveling with an infant or in a group, or carrying a pet makes you ineligible for Air India’s travel cabin upgrade program.

Can I bid for economy to first class upgrade for my travel on Air India? 

At present, Air India’s bidding system is available for one level upgrade from economy to business class, and from business to first class. With your flight booked in economy, you cannot bid to travel in Air India’s first class.

How to use Air India Upgrade+ program for an upgrade in travel class?

You will receive an email invitation for Air India’s Economy to Business Class upgrade on your registered email address. Once you purchase cheap economy tickets for Air India flights, say from USA to India, from IndianEagle.com, you can check whether the itinerary is eligible for an upgrade from economy to premium seats on the airline website. First of all, you should note the above-mentioned eligibility criteria for Upgrade+ program.

Go to AirIndia.com and click ‘Book & Manage” in the top menu bar. It will show a dropdown menu wherein you should click “Seat Selection & Upgrades”. Then go to the ‘Upgrade+ program‘. You will see a big red bar with two white boxes to check your eligibility for Upgrade+. If you are the primary traveler, enter your PNR/booking reference number and your last name and click on submit. If you are eligible for an upgrade of the flight scheduled in the next 72 hours, you can go ahead and get your seat upgraded from economy to business class or premium economy at a fixed amount decided by Air India. 


Enter your credit card details for general verification (payment deduction will happen after upgrade is successful). Submit your upgrade offer after reviewing your personal information and other details. You will be upgraded instantly and within two hours of submission, you will also receive a confirmation email about the upgrade applicable throughout your flight operated by Air India.

Is there a time window to upgrade cheap Air India flight tickets to a premium class?

Air India’s cabin upgrade window closes 12 hours before the scheduled departure of flights. However, you may still stand a chance to upgrade your travel class at the last minute (within 6 hours of departure). For this, you need to reach out to the airline’s check-in counter at the departure airport.

Can I cancel the confirmed upgrade to my travel on Air India flights to/from India?

No, it is not possible to cancel the upgrade once confirmed. And if you cancel your flight after a successful cabin upgrade, you will automatically lose the amount paid for upgrading your seat to business class from economy. 

How Air India’s Upgrade Plus program works? 

Air India’s new cabin upgrade program works for flights departing within the next 72 hours and based on the availability of seats in premium travel cabins. Currently, it is available for economy to business class upgrades for specific flights and on select routes.

I got the best deal from IndianEagle.com for last minute flights with Air India. Am I eligible to bid for an upgrade on the last-minute flight? 

You are advised to visit the airline’s website to check your eligibility for cabin upgrade on flights departing within the next 72 hours. A last-minute upgrade is also possible but subject to availability. You can check with the airline officials during the airport check-in.

I want to cancel my reservation but my travel class upgrade has been successful. Will I get a refund of the upgrade amount?

The extra amount you paid for purchasing the upgrade won’t be refunded, according to Air India. However, the economy class fare (if refundable) which you initially paid to travel on Air India will be refunded as per the airline policy and the ticket rules.

I want to rebook my flight. Can I transfer the upgrade while rebooking? 

Air India’s Upgrade+ program is exclusive to specific flights. Hence, confirmed upgrades are non-transferable and non-refundable. So, you will not be rebooked in an upgraded travel class if you change your travel dates in the original reservation.

I paid to reserve a seat in Economy. Will I get back the seat reservation fee if my flight ticket is upgraded to Air India’s Business Class?

The amount you paid to get your preferred seat reserved in Economy is likely to be refunded, according to Air India; once you are upgraded to a class higher than Economy.

11 thoughts on “Upgrade Plus: Air India’s New, Easy-to-use Cabin Upgrade System for Economy Flyers to Travel in Premium Cabins

  1. kurian a mathew


  2. guru

    I use this feature all the time – domestic and international . Never have I not been able to get the upgrade.
    IT’s a no brainer if you have the money

    • Tara

      This is my first time flying from America to India… so kinda of nervous. On the booking page it says things like “only 2 seats left” in the Business Class vs economy. Does’t that seem a bit risky in the hopes that I’ll get a bid upgrade? Thanks

      • indianeagle Post author

        Hi Tara! Were you checking for flights to India on our portal IndianEagle.com? For any concern or query, please feel free to call our customer helpline 1-800-615-3969 or use our chat support on IndianEagle.com.


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