Australian-designed app will let you bid on premium airline seats right up to the boarding gate
By Jamie Thomson
It’s that nervous feeling that any frequent air traveller knows all too well: you’re sat at the departure gate, and the flight is clearly busy; maybe it’s been overbooked. Surely, this time you’ll get an upgrade to business class.
After all, you dressed the part (smart casual, but not a suit); your frequent flyer account is bulging with unused miles (but just not quite enough to throw down on a full-price upgrade); and you may have spun a line at the check-in desk that you are visiting a sick relative/long-distance lover/senior executive at the airline. But then the flight is called, and you file down the aisle to your designated seat in economy, past the promised land of champagne welcomes and lie-flat beds.
Now, with the new Australian-designed app Seatfrog, all that will be a thing of the past: you’ll know for a fact that you won’t be getting an upgrade – unless you bid for one on your phone. The app searches for empty premium seats on the flight, and then gives you the opportunity to make an offer on them. With the ability to bid for seats right up to the gate, a world first, Seatfrog could completely transform the future of airline upgrades.
“Every year, millions of premium class seats fly empty across the globe, representing billions of dollars in unrealised revenue opportunity,” says Iain Griffin, CEO and co-founder of Seatfrog “Our technology brings a mobile solution to market designed for the passengers of today … an intuitive, mobile-first platform that fits with their busy lives and takes the pain and confusion out of upgrading.”
Seatfrog, which will be able to take in-app payments and issue new boarding cards to the user’s mobile to be scanned at the gate, has already caught the attention of Qantas International CEO and aviation industry veteran Simon Hickey, who has signed up as an adviser. And venture capital firm Howzat Partners, whose previous investments include the hotel search engine Trivago, have also climbed on board, leading to a $1.2m round of seed funding.
“Without question, Seatfrog is the platform that the industry has been waiting for to improve the upgrade experience. There is a lot of untapped potential, particularly in relation to the same-day upgrade process,” said David Soskin, co-founder and partner at Howzat. “The industry is positively ripe for disruption, and this represents a significant opportunity.”
Seatfrog will launch internationally later this year.