Here’s an interesting notion: what if you were able to buy 10 or 20 return flights, on a specific route or a group of routes, in order to lock in a heavily discounted price?
Taking it a step further: what if this was a monthly subscription service, somewhat similar to the likes of Netflix or Spotify, which issued you with ‘flight credits’ redeemable against trips?
Both approaches have now been adopted by several airlines around the world, including Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways – and there’s no reason such a system could not be rolled out by Qantas, Virgin Australia or Rex.
Frequent flyers on the US West Coast can now sign up for an Alaska Airlines Flight Pass, which from US$49 per month lets them lock in preferential economy fares for six, 12 or 24 return trips per year between 16 destinations – although most are within California and none extend to Alaska’s Seattle hub.
“The price of a monthly Flight Pass subscription is cheaper than the average price of a ticket on eligible flights,” the airline promises.
“In exchange for your business for the next year, Alaska provides you with a great deal on a price that doesn’t change.”
(And before you ask, Flight Pass trips include a full serve of points and status credits.)
With domestic travel on the rebound, is this a model of a prepaid flight pass one which Australian flyers would embrace?
Businesses would certainly appreciate the flat cost of an annual flight subscription, provided the routes available largely aligned with their travel needs.
However, there’d be less flexibility in being able to grab the cheapest fare on a route – Alaska Airlines bases the cost advantage of its Flight Pass on a comparison to “the average price of a ticket”.
Another caveat: Alaska’s basic FlightPass plan requires that flights be booked no less than 14 days in advance, whereas the more expensive FlightPass Pro package narrows that window to as little as two hours before wheels-up.
Executive Traveller readers: would you consider bulk-buying flights, or subscribing to an annual flight pass, from Qantas, Virgin Australia or Rex?