AIR TRAVEL

Iberia to launch flight auction website

Move marks fresh attempt to sell tickets via online bidding after initial failed project

Iberia’s new online ticket auction site.
Iberia’s new online ticket auction site.

Iberia’s first attempt to launch a flight auction site two years ago ended in complete failure. The IT system behind it crashed and the former Spanish flag carrier had no choice but to go back to the drawing board.

But the airline considered it an attractive enough idea to keep pursuing, and now it is having another go at creating a website to allow customers to bid for tickets, it announced Monday.

The flights up for auction at subastas.iberia.com will all have a starting price, which will rise as long as there is a customer willing to pay. Those who put in the highest bids will get the tickets.

Details of the first auctions to be offered when bidding starts at the end of the month are already available on the site: a return trip to New York with a starting price of €50; another to Miami at the same price; flights to Paris and Rome, meanwhile, will start at just €20.

The first project had to be scrapped, prompting customers to post angry messages all over the social networks

Iberia’s previous attempt to create an auction site in July 2013 was a disaster, given that the computer system behind it was unable to cope with the huge number of visits it attracted. The project had to be scrapped, prompting upset customers to post angry messages all over the social networks.

The airline repeated the process the following month and, although this time it worked, the project failed to make the impact the company had hoped for. The new version was an inverse auction – tickets started at high prices, then went down as the seconds ticked by, with customers accepting the amount they thought fit. The tickets on offer were to New York, starting from €600, but the savings customers gained were minimal, making it a fairly unattractive marketing strategy.

This time, though, Iberia promises that the system will be in shape for when bidding starts and that it will be a regular auction process, with a starting price that will rise as people bid.

More information

“The bidder heads to subastas.iberia.com, a simple, quick and interactive page that will be very clear for users. There they introduce their details and create a profile, where they will be able to decide what alerts they want to receive from the company, ranging from every time someone raises their bid, to simply the alert saying whether they have won or not,” the airline explained on Monday.

Customers will also be able to ask the system to make automatic bids for them, up to an amount they determine, the company said. The site will provide details about the state of each auction, bids by other people, and the time left before bidding closes. Each auction will last 48 hours.

“What’s more, Iberia will display the best available price for that flight at Iberia.com at all times, so that if the user prefers to abandon the auction and buy the ticket direct, they can do so,” the airline said.

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