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Neat New App Lets You Trade for a Better Airplane Seat

Stuck with a middle seat? Want to sell a first-class upgrade? A new app can help.

The startup app AirrTrade, which appears to have launched earlier this month and is still available via invite only, provides a marketplace through which flyers can trade, sell, or buy airplane seats. Users can search their flight via the app and find users who are willing to part with or bargain for a more desirable seat. Then, they simply purchase the seat they would like and pay the seller directly.

The app is run by a third party, which means a) the airline isn’t involved in seat swapping, and b) official boarding passes won’t change. At security checkpoints, both flyers will show their original boarding passes; once on the airplane, the seller and buyer are free to swap seats themselves.

Our take? AirrTrade could be a neat way to avoid paying for premium seat perks or getting stuck in an undesirable seat, turning the fees-for-all airline industry into something of a free market. However, like many other third-party apps that rely on consumer participation (such as FaceBelt, which served as an in-air matchmaking service), we imagine that downloads could be low and selection scarce. Often, we find that these apps have trouble taking off. We say, if you simply must have an exit row seat, you should just want to pay ahead of time for the privilege.

But if you don’t mind the gamble, AirrTrade could offer some bang for your buck.

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