The Crazy Thing Airlines Might Make You Do for Cheap Tickets

Ed Perkins, April 03, 2015
Fares from Washington DC:

    In the future, will airlines make passengers complete "microwork" tasks for cheaper tickets? One industry expert thinks it could happen.

    In a posting on Fast Company, self-styled frequent-flyer Martin Lindstrom speculated on the future of air travel. His predictions make for amusing reading, if nothing else. He predicts, along with almost everyone else in the business, the widening gap between the "ultraplush" and the "ultrasqueezed." But some of his other forecasts are a bit over the top.

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    Lindstrom speculates that laundry, spas, and casinos could be available on luxury flights one day. On the discount side, Lindstrom suggests that an airline "like EasyJet or Allegiant" might offer fare offsets for passengers who do microwork during their flights.

    What, exactly, is microwork? The idea is that businesses could parcel out small tasks to anyone interested in earning a bit of money on a piecework basis. Early experiments have focused on small, repetitive computer-based tasks, like translation or checking lists. In some cases, microwork could be completed on smartphones.

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    The advantage to a business is getting minor minimum-skill tasks done at a low cost. The advantage to individuals is extra income. It's hard to see how a passenger could earn more than a few dollars during a flight, but the whole idea is new and the economic principles are not yet established.

    Obviously, I'm skeptical about much of this, but it is entertaining. And some of it might actually happen. What's your take?

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    Does time of day matter? Oddly enough, you find very little data on this question. Overall, afternoons are the "rush hour" for flying, so you find fewer good airfares on afternoon flights. On some short-haul routes, early mornings are also rush hour, as business travelers start their quick in-and-out single-day trips. Still, others say the dinner hour is a good time to fly.

    On domestic routes, fares for overnight red-eye flights are often lower than for daytime flights—but you have to put up with the miseries of sitting up all night in a tiny economy seat.

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    Read the original story: The Crazy Thing Airlines Might Make You Do for Cheap Tickets by Ed Perkins, who is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel.

    (Photo: Thinkstock/Photodisc)

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