The Crazy Thing Airlines Might Make You Do for Cheap Tickets

An air-industry expert reveals his startling prediction for the future of flying.

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.

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.

Related: 9 Things You Should Never Wear on a Plane

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.

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?

(Photo: Thinkstock/Photodisc)

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By Ed Perkins

A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.

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