It’s not a new idea to have an unlimited travel pass for buses or the subway, but airlines are also starting to use them. So are we going to pay for our flights the same way we pay for Netflix or Spotify?
The idea has been around for a while. American Airlines had a $10,000 Air Pass that allowed the subscriber to also fly on British Airways, Finnair, Iberia and Japan Airlines on an unlimited basis — but the subscription model has had a new lease on life since the pandemic.
There was a real need to fill empty planes during lockdowns and the pandemic. Sounds Air, an airline in New Zealand, offered a three-month subscription to an ‘all you can fly’ ticket during the summer of 2022 to fill the 17,000 empty seats it had on its planes. The ticket cost NZ$799 (about $500) and allowed ticket holders to fly as often as they wanted between 8 destinations across the two New Zealand islands.
A year ago, in February 2022, Alaska Airlines in the US became one of the first airlines in the world to offer a subscription model. The Alaska Flight Permit starts at $49 per month and allows users to fly up to 24 times per year on 16 routes across the US, including California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah, with no blackout dates. With the Pro version, max price $749, passengers can book up to 2 hours in advance. For Alaska Airlines passes, subscribers must opt-in for a minimum of 12 months and pay airport taxes and fees (about $30 round-trip).
Frontier Airlines recently launched its Go Wild pass, which offers unlimited travel from May to September 2023 for $399 per person. Flyers must pay $0.01 in airfare plus taxes, fees and charges at the time of booking. Ancillary charges (baggage charges, seat selection, etc) must also be added at the time of booking. Frontier’s subscription model aims to fill the 5,000 seats that flew empty by 2022, allowing travelers to book a departure for domestic travel just one day in advance (for international travel to the Caribbean islands and Mexico, flights must be booked 10 days in advance forward).
Another example is Star Flyer, a Japanese airline, which launched its monthly flight subscription for a fee of 200,000 yen (about $1,340) to allow remote workers to fly 550 miles between the coastal city of Fukuoka and Tokyo as how much they needed or wanted. to.
And it’s not just airlines in the travel industry that are following the monthly subscription model. For $450 a month, Selina offers a cohabitation package for a 30-day stay at one of 90 Mexican properties in Margate, with the option to switch properties three times a month. Likewise, for $2,500 (£2,107) a month, travel company Inspirato can take you to more than 200 of the best hotels around the world.
Jenny Southan, CEO and editor of travel forecaster Globetrender, predicts a rise in travel membership schemes and said Telegraph“the subscription economy has huge untapped potential for both the travel industry and passengers, especially those who fly regularly for work or to visit family.”
One of the biggest criticisms of a flyable model is that it encourages people to fill seats and fly at a point in time when, environmentally, most people think we should be flying less. While there is an argument that these programs fill empty seats, anyone who wants to reduce their carbon footprint would be better served by flying less, rather than looking for empty seats on planes.
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