Flight secrets: The unlikely way you can bag a cheap upgrade on your flight

Flights for most people involve travelling in Economy Class. Shelling out for an upgrade is something one might do for a special occasion – but it’s often quite an expensive option. Consequently, passengers often hope they can wangle a free upgrade.


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However, this approach can be tricky and the chances of getting a boost up for free just because you’ve, say, dressed smartly, are quite slim.

One way to improve your chances of getting upgraded on the cheap is to turn to specialist apps.

Express.co.uk spoke exclusively to Femi Oniya at mobile app SeatBoost – the only mobile app to offer live bidding on last-minute seat upgrades.

Their live auctions for seat upgrades begin 24 hours before departure and end right before boarding.

“Travellers interested in finding a deal on an upgrade love our app because we give them a fantastic opportunity to get an upgrade at a greater value,” said Oniya.

He continued: “It’s becoming increasingly more difficult and complex to score a free upgrade these days.

“That’s part of the reason why we created SeatBoost. We wanted to give fliers a chance to get a last-minute upgrade at a price point they were more comfortable with.

“To do so, we developed SeatBoost to help airlines connect and merchandise with their passengers in the last 24 hours when flights are top of mind for travellers.”

Oniya pointed out the thrill of finding out you’ve bagged the upgrade when using the app.

“Travellers regularly save money on upgrading using SeatBoost,” he said.

“Plus we see a lot of our users get really excited when they win an upgrade because they weren’t expecting to get to sit in Business Class when they set off on their journey.

“We are typically able to offer a better price point because we operate in the last 24 hours and without SeatBoost the seat is likely to go empty.”

An advantage of using an app in this instance is that there’s no risk involved – you only pay if you get the upgrade.


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“What’s great about SeatBoost is there is no cost to use our app to bid for an upgrade, and you only pay if you win,” Oniya told Express.co.uk.

“And if you don’t win, you keep your original seat, so there’s zero risk.

“We encourage interested fliers to participate because there is always a chance to win and no cost to bid, but we do tell our users that we cannot guarantee availability on a particular flight (we are affected by things that affect airlines – weather, seasonality, last-minute bookings, etc.).”

Currently, SeatBoost is only partnered with TAP Air Portugal, but they have plans to expand in the future.

“We’ve received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from our customers, and we expect SeatBoost to take off in the coming years,” enthused Oniya.

“Consumers are increasingly looking to have greater control over their own destiny.

“On the airline side, airlines are constantly challenged to generate new revenue while not antagonising their customers.

“By providing a way to bid on an upgrade right before the seat goes empty, we allow the flier some agency to determine the price that is right for them, while being a helpful tool for airlines to simultaneously increase revenue and provide added value to fliers.

“SeatBoost is filling a demand on both sides that will only continue to grow.”

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