Ever wondered how that lucky so-and-so on your flight managed to score a last-minute upgrade to business class at the check-in counter?
Well, soon it won't matter how charming you are or how much you beg -- an Aussie tech startup is about to launch an app which allows travellers to bid on unfilled premium seats, right up to the departure gate.
Tech company Seatfrog today announced it's raised $1.2m in seed funding to launch the platform, backed by UK investment team HOWZAT Partners, the firm behind hotel search platform Trivago.
And, while it won't launch until later this year, you can sign up now to be notified when the app is live.
How it will work
You download the Seatfrog app, and register your flight details.
After frequent flyer point upgrade requests and cash purchases have been completed, the airline will set a reserve price on unsold premium seats, and passengers who have registered will be told the auction is about to begin.
The bids will be seen in real time, and there will also be a "buy it now" option.
The platform will cater for in-app payments, with new boarding passes delivered directly to the passenger's mobile phone for scanning at the departure gate.
Seatfrog CEO and co-founder Iain Griffin said while the platform was great news for travellers, it also unlocked revenue opportunities for airlines.
"Every year, millions of premium class seats fly empty across the globe, representing billions of dollars in unrealised revenue opportunity," Griffin said.
"Our technology brings a mobile solution to market designed for the passengers of today. It keeps in mind the airlines' continual need to evolve their ancillary strategies through intelligent use of data, and the passengers' need for an intuitive, mobile-first platform that fits with their busy lives and takes the pain and confusion out of upgrading."
HOWZAT co-founder and partner David Soskin said Seatfrog was the platform will streamline the upgrade process.
"The industry is positively ripe for disruption, and this represents a significant opportunity," he said.
"Essentially, it's that wonderful confluence of the right idea, and the right business, at the right time."
Former Qantas International CEO Simon Hickey has come on board as an adviser for the Aussie startup.
"It not only delivers an exceptional mobile passenger experience, but it is a smart solution to the challenges of merchandising facing airlines and is already fully integrated across their systems, enabling real-time upgrades of ticket bookings right up to the departure gate," he said.