It’s a bold new way of flying. Wired blog Autopia reports on a South African idea to start a new airline where you pay by minutes for flights you book on your smart phone.

The article explains it isn’t a done deal as yet, with the securing of aircraft but one of many loose ends.

But there is also no sign that the planned carrier’s backers can protect through copyright their innovative concept for buying and redeeming ‘minutes’ for trips by the likes of iPhones or Blackberrys.

Suppose the long legged traveller’s favorite carrier (!) Jetstar, just hypothetically went down this route.

You would buy ‘minutes’ according to whatever the price was on offer. No complicated fares to navigate. Just $1 (or whatever) per minute. You could speculate on adding to a bank of cheaply purchased minutes when the airline was dropping the rate to stimulate demand, or find yourself topping up the necessary minutes for an urgent trip at a rate that might be higher because of stronger demand.

To book and dowload your smart phone readable e-ticket you would draw down your ‘Jetminutes’ ([email protected] Sandilands).

And your drop-down menu of available flights from your nearest airport to other cities would show a fixed number of minutes required to pay for them, say 90 minutes between Melbourne-Sydney or 130 minutes between Adelaide-Brisbane, regardless of how long the flight actually takes on the day, or however much or little you paid for each minute.

There might even be a premium minute tally for peak hour flights, say an extra 30 minutes for flights between east coast capitals at the morning and evening times most useful to business travellers, or a discount minutes tally for late night or middle of the day flights of 30 minutes off the standard time.

These South African entrepreneurs might just be right on the money. If in the next year or so I can download and top up my London or Hong Kong Octopus cards on my smart phone, and wave it at the proximity reader on a bus or at a train station, why not do all of those things on an airline, although only those with room for my legs. OK, no Jetminutes. Let’s see, Blueminutes ([email protected] Sandilands), Qminutes ([email protected] Sandilands), Vminutes, DeltaMinutes…., all copyright held by the tall, wide, last minute passenger you hope isn’t going to try and fit into that empty seat beside you.

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