Train travellers disgruntled in economy class now have a chance to upgrade to first class from £5 – thanks to a new app launched yesterday.

Seatfrog has been hailed as the answer to empty first class carriages and over packed economy seats.

The app enables customers on Virgin Trains who have already booked standard class tickets to bid on empty first-class seats from as little as £5.

Seatfrog is available to download for free on Apple and Android devices.

How it works:

  1. Download the free app and create an account with your email address. You will also have to give payment card details.
  2. Enter your train booking reference and set your maximum upgrade bid.
  3. App will notify you when the auction begins.
  4. Travellers can view the current price and what others are bidding.
  5. After a winning bid has been placed, Seatfrog will send an updated train ticket to the passenger’s smartphone to board the train.

There are no credit card or booking fees. The online auction opens two hours before the train is scheduled to leave the station and ends thirty minutes before departure.

While passengers can choose to up their bids while the bidding is underway, they are also given the choice to put in a ‘pre-bid’ from as soon as they book their original seat.

This will kick in as soon as the auction goes live to save them the time and hassle of manually updating their bid.

The app also allows users to upgrade straightaway – echoing eBay’s ‘Buy it Now’ button. This facility is available to travellers five days before the date of travel.

However, the app promised that the auction cost will never exceed the ‘Buy it Now’ price.

While upgrade costs change depending on the journey, taken through the auction process will mean that it is guaranteed.

Quieter services will usually mean that the upgrade costs will be lower than busier services. Rush hour trains, and busy services like Friday nights out of London will see rates go up.

According to the app, an upgrade from Leeds to London cost £10. A midweek train from London to Edinburgh cost £15.

Tips for getting a good deal on train tickets

Seatfrog advises bidding early. ‘Place a pre-bid any time before you travel and Seatfrog will bid on your behalf up to that price.

‘The software is much faster than you’d be able to do it yourself,’ says a spokesperson.

Bid your best price – there’s no point hanging back, bid your highest, because Seatfrog will bid against other travellers for you up to that price and you’ll always get a deal.

At launch, only passengers travelling on Virgin Trains will be able to use the app to upgrade cheaply.

But the network is extensive, with routes spanning the majority of the mainland Britain – from London to Glasgow.

However more train operators are due to come on board, and interest has been shown from several airlines.

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