Photo: Sarah Ackerman
I FLEW EMIRATES FIRST CLASS once by chance. To save money, my parents put me on a flight on Christmas Day, but the joke was on them. When the staff saw a young blond girl sitting alone in Economy, by herself on Christmas, they surprisingly ushered me upfront. I had the cabin to myself. It was decadent and I’ve been ruined ever since.
When something similar happened to my friend Iain Griffin, he was confounded by the revenue the airline lost in his free upgrade because he had actually been willing to pay before they offered. He is extremely tall so premium seats are important to him. Being an avid jet-setter with a stellar tech background in behavioral design, he decided to do something about it — develop a ground-breaking app that could change how we travel. Together with friends Dirk Stewart and Ben Iant, experts in customer-centered design, business innovation and technology, Seatfrog was born. Iain explains that by appealing to customer behavior, he found a way to fulfill a portion of the millions of empty seats on flights by putting opportunities in the hands of travelers and dollars in the airlines’ pocket.
Seatfrog allows travelers to bid in real time on upgrading their seat. I had the pleasure of testing the app last year and it’s simple, sleek and sexy. It is integrated with the systems that manage flights within 48hrs, meaning it only becomes available when the time is appropriate for your flight and does not impact the priority given to those with frequent flier status upgrading with points.
Using the app might feel familiar, as it is similar to eBay in its auction style and Uber in its payment method; and boarding passes are conveniently updated instantaneously within the app. Yes, some airlines currently have “bidding” options for upgrading, but it’s often inconsistent and not very transparent. Seatfrog democratizes the experience and will work the same for any airline it’s partnered with. It’s rolling out throughout the rest of this year.