There's one thing I think we can all agree on in these crazy times: all the fun has officially been sucked out of air travel. But, thankfully, one innovative airline CEO is on a mission to change that, maybe making flying free of charge to travelers — even paying them to fly. Yes, really.
Iceland's budget carrier Wow Air is literally wowing us with this disruptive approach to an industry desperately in need of a makeover, and with a projected business model that just might be crazy enough to work.
"There are all kinds of interesting opportunities through using technology and social media," said Skúli Mogensen, CEO of Wow Air, in a recent interview with Business Insider. "What ever [sic] airline becomes the first to achieve this will be a game changer."
"Ancillary revenue" is one of the main categories of cringe-inducing customer sticker shock when it comes to flying these days, also known as the a la carte fees for baggage, seat upgrades, meals and snacks, in-flight entertainment, and more. But maybe those fees wouldn't bother us so much if the flight itself was free?
Wow has already figured out how to become one of the only long-haul airlines to offer incredible bargain basement fares, with recent sales including $55 per person transatlantic tickets — something we imagine would be easy to make up in profit margin by a passenger's potential meals-and-bar-and-movies tab while en route across the pond. Getting you in the seat to make those purchases is the key.
Or, as BI puts in more investment detail:
In theory, by lowering an airline's dependency on passenger revenue, the amount it charges per ticket becomes less important. In the most extreme case, the fact a passenger is on the flight will be more crucial for the airline's bottom line than how much it charged for airfare. That's because most of the money the airline will make from its passengers comes after they purchase their ticket. And thus WOW could technically pay you to be on the plane and still make money from the trip.
Getting paid to travel is even better than flying for free — and seemingly in the air. Further still, the airlines may even pay us commission for referrals, etc. for doing their marketing for them via social media, as brand ambassadors of sorts.
"People tend to take a lot of photos while traveling, sharing their experiences," Mogensen said. "We see a lot of interesting ways to empower people to spread the word about Wow and to reward them accordingly."
Now that sounds like flying the friendly skies.