An app allowing passengers to upgrade at the last minute by bidding on empty seats has secured AU$1.2 million (£600,000) of seed funding, led by London-based Howzat Partners.
Howzat Partners is the investment team behind hotel search website Trivago, sold to Expedia in 2013 in a deal worth $1 billion.
Sydney-based start-up Seatfrog will enable airlines to auction off premium seats to passengers right up until departure.
Passengers can pay via the app and receive a new boarding pass on their mobile phone to be scanned at the boarding gate.
Iain Griffin, chief executive and co-founder of Seatfrog, said: “Every year, millions of premium class seats fly empty across the globe.
“Ancillaries are currently estimated to be worth around $60 billion.
“Seatfrog’s technology dramatically broadens the scope of this market opportunity by making upgrades seamless for passengers and maximising efficiency and profit for airlines.”
David Soskin, co-founder and partner at Howzat, added: “Without question, Seatfrog is the platform that the industry has been waiting for to improve the upgrade experience.
“Airline ancillary revenue strategies are fragmented and there is a lot of untapped potential, particularly in relation to the same-day upgrade process.”
The team has an advisory board of industry experts including leading aviation lawyer Richard Davis, financial technology entrepreneur Mike Aston, former Qantas International chief executive Simon Hickey, and the executive team at Howzat Partners, comprising Soskin, Hugo Burge, and Sascha Hausmann.
Currently in private beta mode, Seatfrog claims to be the first to allow upgrades right up until departure, and launches later this year.