In Brief

Virgin app lets passengers bid for upgrades

Travellers on the East Coast line will be able to buy first-class tickets for as little as £5 extra

Virgin is offering to upgrade rail passengers to first class via a seat-bidding mobile app.

The new service allows commuters who have already bought standard tickets to bid for empty first-class seats, starting from £5 extra, up to 30 minutes before departure.

“The live bidding element means you can decide at the last minute if you fancy treating yourself,” says Suzanne Donnelly, commercial director at Virgin Trains East Coast.

First class carriages on Virgin trains feature complimentary food and drink, onboard entertainment, free Wi-Fi and reclining leather seats with extra legroom.

The company adds that the service is “completely seamless and easy-to-use”, with no extra paperwork, printing tickets or additional fees.

Passengers are required to download the free Seatfrog app available on Apple and Android devices and enter their ticket booking reference to start bidding. If they are successful, a ticket will be sent straight to their mobile device. 

Upgrade costs will vary heavily depending on demand, says This is Money.

“So while passengers may be able to secure a first-class seat from as little as £5 on quieter services and shorter journeys, for peak times and routes - such as Friday night trains leaving London - you can expect to pay more,” the website reports. 

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