If these road warriors get priority boarding or exit-row seating as part of their elite perks for free, will the airlines ditch the freebies they give business travelers in favor of a non-elite traveler who may want to pay $15 or $20 for the premier seat, Sharkey wonders.
He even speculates that some of these new pay-as-you-go ancillary products, as they are known, may go up for auction, with the exit row seats going to the highest bidders.
Will we see a sort of Priceline system for priority boarding, premier seats and lounge access?
In that regard, I like a tweet I saw this morning written by Gregg Brockway, CEO of TripIt, from the TravelCom conference in Atlanta. He tweeted: "Enjoying #TravelCom. The upstarts generally seem happy and the establishment pained. Creative destruction at work?"
Brockway wasn't referring to airline merchandising, but I like the "creative destruction" reference.
In the next few years, airlines' souped-up merchandising efforts are going to bring a lot of disruption, altering the way travel is bought and sold on the Web and offline, too, for business travelers and just plain folks.