Etihad is now joining Air New Zealand in allowing people who have purchased certain Economy and Business class tickets on their website the opportunity to bid for an upgrade to Business (Pearl) from Economy class or to First (Diamond) from Business class.
I recently discussed my failed bid to upgrade from Premium Economy to Business on Air New Zealand (my $350 offer was turned down). This program runs the same way – they give you an idea of where you need to bid to get the upgrade, but you are free to ignore that advice and bid lower. If the bid is accepted (a few days before departure) they charge your card. If they don’t accept, you don’t get charged. Remember if you cancel your flight you’ve lost the upgrade payment.
Any opportunity to jump up a cabin without having to pay the full fare is a good thing, though I’m sure some people take issue with the program.
Full details here.