Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Seatfrog – how to get a cheap first class upgrade

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Tomorrow, Christine, Lizzie and I are off to London (actually for the second time this week, but that’s another story). We’re going by train, and, thanks to Seatfrog, we’ll be travelling in first class, at a relatively low additional cost.

In the UK, Seatfrog is available on LNER services on the East Coast Main Line. You buy your standard class tickets online, as normal, and then put your booking reference into Seatfrog. The day before departure, Seatfrog holds an auction; enter your bid, and if you win, your updated tickets appear in the app.

We bid £10 per ticket for our journey, and this won (the minimum bid was £5). However, there may be a higher reserve on some services – for our return, the reserve was £9. Upgrading to first class gets you a wider, reclining seat, the majority of which are leather upholstered on LNER services. Plus, free Wi-Fi, regular offers of tea and coffee, and, for journeys over an hour, a complementary meal. This is easily worth £10 a head and means we won’t need to buy extra food for our journey.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that you’ll win, and there’s no point bidding too high as you can buy an upgrade outright for £35 per ticket. At least if you’re outbid, no money is taken.

I suppose it’s a good way of filling vacant first class seats. I could also see this being useful for people travelling on business, who can only claim standard class travel on expenses. Seatfrog would allow you to trade up to first class from your own pocket if you’re happy to pay a bit extra yourself.

For now, Seatfrog is only available on LNER services, however, it’s run by an independent company and so it’s possible that other travel companies could adopt it – potentially airlines as well as train operators,

So, tomorrow we’ll be smugly sat in first class, knowing that we paid well under the odds for our tickets,

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