by Natalie Paris from The Telegraph, Jul 17, 2017
Flights with budget carriers could get even cheaper after it was predicted that low-cost airlines might stop charging passengers altogether – and instead start paying them to come on board.
The suggestion was made by the head of the Icelandic airline WOW, which has been shaking up the aviation industry on both sides of the Atlantic with its cut-price intercontinental fares.
"In the future we could pay you to fly with us," Skúli Mogensen, WOW's CEO, told Telegraph Travel. "If you come to us and trust us with your booking, we can see that your airfare is reduced to zero and even reward you for it."
The recent boom in budget airlines has enabled holidaymakers to travel further and more often than ever before. WOW, for example, currently offers flights from the UK to the US from £149.99, if they are willing to go via Reykjavik.
Not all passengers pay the advertised fare, however, will many forking out extra for hold luggage, a meal and seat selection.
Airlines now also sell extras such as car hire and hotel bookings to customers. Revenue from these additional services could eventually become more valuable than what airlines charge for seats. In this way, WOW and others could theoretically pay people to fly with them and still make money from the flight.
Those who might be paid to travel, according to Mogensen, are passengers who WOW has built up a "special relationship" with and who want to make the airline an "integral" part of their travel plans, when it comes to booking hotels and activities, for example.
If these passenegrs can also be counted on to share details of the trip on social media, then he said that the airline will make it financially rewarding for them to book a flight.
"A lot of people now, both pre- and post-travel, share pictures with their friends," he explained. "If we do a good job and they spread the word, it is powerful customer feedback. As they are our advocate, they can be rewarded accordingly."
He said the airline was "actively working towards" being able to reward trusted customers in this way.
Travellers who promote an airline on social media could benefit from a new budget travel policy
WOW has more competition than ever for its budget transatlantic flights this summer.
The latest low-cost airline to enter the market is Level, which started operating in June, providing direct "low-cost long-haul" flights between Europe and the opposite side of the Atlantic - including, interestingly, South America.
The catch, for British travellers, is that the airline is based at Barcelona’s El Prat Airport.