Want a last-minute upgrade to your seat for a long flight? There’s (almost) an app for that.
Come early 2018, flight passengers will be able to bid to get upgrades to business class or first class, all through an app. The program already exists, called Seatfrog, but right now it’s used to score last-minute upgrades on Virgin Trains’ east coast line. Starting a set amount of time before the train trip, customers can enter a bidding war on the app to buy an upgraded seat. The service started in September and creator Iain Griffin is in talks with some airline partners to take the app skyward early next year.
Bidding for upgrades on the train starts at £5 (or about $6.75), though Griffin expects the starting cost will be higher for flight upgrades – but still an accessible cost.
“It obviously depends on the duration of the flight—an upgrade for a flight to, say, Sydney is going to cost more than flying from London to Paris,” he told The Telegraph.
For flights, app users will be able to begin bidding six hours before the flight leaves, with final determinations made about 30 minutes before takeoff. Griffin told The Telegraph the idea to move into the air travel industry was spawned by his research on unsold premium cabin seats. The top 30 airlines, research shows, fly with about 37 million unsold first and business class seats on an annual basis.
Seatfrog is the first third-party app to handle this aspect of flying, but some airlines already use the technology themselves. Norwegian, for example, offers passengers the opportunity to bid for a premium cabin seat on long-haul flights, Etihad does the same – and also allows passengers to bid to keep empty seats next to their own.