If you've been watching airfares you know that they can't go much lower:
$99 to Europe? Sure. Twenty bucks from London to Paris? Why not?
Turns out that they can, and might, sink even more: What's better than low-cost? No-cost. And thanks to the changing economic realities of the airline business, at least one industry CEO is saying the day may come when we see airlines paying customers to fly.
How? It's the same reason you can sleep free at a casino: What's being sold there isn't the room but the gambling (and alcohol).
Airlines — especially low-cost carriers — already rake in "extra" cash with fees for one-time included costs, like checked baggage and meals. Now, they're developing serious streams of revenue in renting cars and booking hotel rooms. When travelers pick up enough of those add-ons, the initial purchase — the plane ticket itself — becomes irrelevant. And airlines are left with a fantastic marketing opportunity: "Fly free to Hawaii — or we'll pay you if you promote us on Twitter!"
In fact, the CEO of Reykjavik-based carrier WOW says that final note — the online promotion — could become a key element in determining which passengers get to take advantage of the most advantageous fares: "If we do a good job and [passengers] spread the word, it is powerful customer feedback. As they are our advocate, they can be rewarded accordingly," WOW's Skúli Mogensen told the Telegraph.
All good and great, but we can't help but think: This was an episode of Black Mirror.
Enjoy the future, everyone!