Business travellers and other frequent flyers will be able to fly more but pay less with Singapore Airlines’ new multi-trip Flight Pass.
Instead of booking one trip at a time, the Flight Pass lets travellers pre-purchase discounted bundles of tickets, and decide on the actual travel dates and book their flights later on.
These advance purchase tickets can be turned into actual bookings as little as seven days before travel, with anywhere from 12 flights to 40 flights taken across six months to 18 months.
Flight Passes can also be shared, meaning that a company could maximise their savings by advance purchasing a large number of flights across an extended period, which can be used by various employees as the need arises.
Buy now, fly later
The key feature of Flight Pass is its flexibility, Singapore Airlines says: travellers can “lock in discounted air fares for multiple flights, and decide on their travel dates at their convenience, subject to seat availability.”
The cost of a Flight Pass package depends on a range of customisable factors such as the number of flights, the travel period and how far in advance each booking will be made, the fare type and of course the destinations.
Singapore Airlines is launching its Flight Pass on flights between Singapore and the UK, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and South Korea, and says it will be progressively extended to other destinations.
Travel must originate from Singapore, and at this stage the Flight Pass is available only for economy class bookings – specifically Singapore Airlines’ Lite, Standard and Flexi economy fares.
Each of these still carries their regular traits such as varying degrees of flexibility for flight changes and cancellations, and earning between 50% and 100% of KrisFlyer miles.
A Singapore Airlines spokesperson tells Executive Traveller that the airline “will review if (Flight Pass) will be extended to other classes of travel in the future.”
So how much do you actually stand to save?
Executive Traveller priced a Singapore-London flight through the usual booking procedure as well as in a Flight Pass bundle of 12 flights
The one-off price for a Standard economy fare for a return trip between Singapore and London in mid-February 2022 came to SGD$2004.
The Flight Pass package of 12 flights (six return trips) taken over a 12 month period, with a 30 day advance booking, landed at SGD$1842 for a return trip.
That’s arguably not a significant saving, although keeping 12.5% of the travel budget in your pocket isn’t to be sneezed at – and across six return trips the savings add to almost SGD$1,000.
The theory is that the more you ‘option up’ your Flight Pass – such as making more flights with a longer advance booking window (to lock in trips such as regular client meetings, attending conferences and so on) – the lower the per-flight price.
It takes quite some fiddling with the Flight Pass website (provided through Singapore Airlines’ partner Optiontown) to customise your Flight Pass package, but you can get the price down to around SGD$1,200 for a return trip (SGD$600 per flight) if you’re prepared to buy a lot more flights under an Economy Lite fare.
Of course, the major risk with any prepaid system – be it for travel, movie vouchers or even cups of coffee – is that you might not use all of your ‘credits’.
In the case of Singapore Airlines’ Flight Pass, there’s not only arguably less flexibility than booking a one-off trip, but a single trip not taken could cost more overall than what you’d hoped to save in the first place.