This startup, which lets people bid for airplane seat upgrades, has secured $1.2 million

Get bidding! Photo: Sean Gallup/ Getty Images.

There are a few tricks that many use to get an upgrade when flying. Dress nicely, be first in line. But soon, there will be a more convenient option.

Seatfrog is the world’s first booking-to-gate platform that allows passengers to bid for seat upgrades in real time right up until the departure gate.

And it’s not just a bonus for the passengers who want the extra leg room — airlines can maximise revenue on seats that would otherwise fly empty.

While the platform is due to launch globally this year, the startup has today announced a $1.2 million seed funding round, led by London-based venture capital firm, HOWZAT Partners.

HOWZAT Partners is the investment team behind hotel metasearch business Trivago, which sold to Expedia Inc in 2013 in a deal worth US$1 billion.

Photo: Seatfrog/ supplied.

The funding is expected to go towards bolstering Seatfrog’s team and development to support the company’s accelerated growth.

The business plan has also attracted former Qantas international CEO and aviation veteran, Simon Hickey, as an advisor on its board.

He says the startup is “undeniably ahead of the curve”.

“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 the their systems, enabling real time upgrades of ticket bookings right up to the departure gate.”

Iain Griffin, CEO and co-founder of Seatfrog, says the business is expected to help airlines tap into billions of dollars of unrealised revenue opportunity.

“For airlines, ancillaries are currently estimated to be worth around US$60 billion. Seatfrog’s technology dramatically broadens the scope of this market opportunity by making upgrading seamless for passengers and maximising efficiency and profit for airlines,” he said.

While still only operating in a private beta mode ahead of its launch later this year, the platform has already been integrated with airlines’ booking systems to enable frictionless set-up in a matter of days should airlines want to be involved in the service.

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