Innovative: Alaska Airlines Launches Flight Pass

Innovative: Alaska Airlines Launches Flight Pass

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Alaska Airlines has just launched the first-ever flight subscription service in the United States, offering a certain number of flights for a flat fee.

Alaska Airlines’ new flight subscription service

Alaska Airlines is today debuting Flight Pass, a subscription-based travel offering that allows members to fly up to 24 roundtrip flights a year, for a fixed monthly cost.

There are two Flight Pass options available, and for each you can choose whether you want six, 12, or 24 roundtrip nonstop flights per year:

  • The best value Flight Pass starts at $49 per month, and requires booking at least 14 days before travel, and as early as 90 days in advance
  • The most flexible Flight Pass starts at $199 per month, and allows same-day booking up to two hours before departure, and as early as 90 days in advance

There are a few more things to note:

  • Flight Pass is exclusively available for select West Coast destinations, and allows travel within California, as well as travel on nonstop flights from California to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Reno; this includes 100 daily flights to 16 airports
  • Flight Pass books into economy
  • Flight Pass requires a minimum commitment of 12 months
  • Flight Pass members will have to pay government taxes and airport fees on each flight, plus a “nominal fare” (for most flights that’s $0.01)
  • Mileage Plan members can still earn miles on Flight Pass bookings, and take advantage of elite perks
Alaska Airlines’ Flight Pass routes

Here’s how Alex Corey, Alaska Airlines’ managing director of business development and products, describes this initiative:

“Flight Pass builds on our mission to offer travelers the most West Coast destinations at the best value. Our commitment to care means offering convenient and affordable options that fit our guests’ lifestyle and connect them to where they want to go. After two years of staying close to home, guests are ready to travel again and with 100 daily flights from 16 airports throughout California and between California to Reno, Phoenix and Las Vegas, Flight Pass will take them there.” 

Is Alaska Airlines’ Flight Pass worth it?

This is no doubt a creative concept from Alaska Airlines, as we haven’t seen something quite like this before from a US airline. However, years back we saw JetBlue offer an “All You Can Jet” pass, whereby you could take an unlimited number of JetBlue flights over a certain period for a fixed cost (which to me is much more interesting, frankly).

What’s my take on Alaska Airlines’ Flight Pass?

  • The value here is potentially good; for example, the $49 pass would cost you $588 annually, and would get you six roundtrip flights; with taxes and fees, you’ll end up paying a bit more than $100 per roundtrip
  • Personally even if I lived in one of these destinations, I’d need a compelling reason to sign up — you’re missing out on a lot of flexibility by committing yourself to one airline, and with the cheaper plan you have a limited booking window, capacity controls, etc., and don’t have the freedom to book other airlines

I’d say this could make sense for those who very frequently fly the same route, like someone who commutes every week on the same flight. Or it could be worth it for someone who frequently books tickets very last minute in markets where tickets are otherwise expensive.

For the rest of us, the flexibility you’re giving up generally isn’t going to be worth the cost savings, in my opinion.

I’d think twice before signing up for an Alaska Airlines Flight Pass

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines has launched Flight Pass, which is a subscription service allowing you to purchase a certain number of flights annually at a fixed cost. This is specific to select Alaska Airlines West Coast destinations, and there are two plans that offer different levels of flexibility.

This is a creative concept and I’m curious to see if it proves to be popular. It would be great to see something like this valid more widely across a carrier’s network, rather than just limited to select markets (though I realize the economics for Alaska Airlines might not make as much sense then).

What do you make of the Alaska Airlines Flight Pass concept?

Conversations (43)
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  1. Juan Guest

    I guess the haters here have not tried booking an SFO-SAN or SFO-PSP ticket leaving at a REASONABLE time on a Thursday/Sunday...

    SFO-PSP on a Friday is $299/one-way at a minimum on UA/AS.

    This pass has a limited audience but if you're based in SFO/LAX/SAN and fly to visit family, this is interesting (EXCEPT PASS IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR UNDER 18).

  2. Matt Flynn Guest

    This would be a great service if seattle to Nevada or Phoenix was available for us snow birds

  3. Eric Guest

    I'm guessing this is aimed at the semi-frequent WN pax who travel for biz/personal but not enough to earn status on anyone.

  4. Allison Guest

    Would have been fantastic if the Pacific Northwest cities were included. I would definitely purchased.

    1. Keith S. Guest

      I thought the same thing. Not seeing the two major hubs (PDX and SEA) makes this a non-starter. It feels like they're competing against a high-speed rail network that is still 20 years in the future.

  5. jon_isp New Member

    Funny how their map omits Mexico and makes southern Arizona look like it borders the ocean, suggesting that George Strait really could have "Ocean front property in Arizona".

  6. Christina Guest

    I wonder how many of these pass seats are available per flight. What class of service do they have to be booked in?

  7. YULtide Gold

    "Innovative": "All our airplanes now equipped with wings."

  8. AKgold75K Guest

    So glad to see Alaska Airlines doing something good for its namesake customers (heavy emphasis on the sarcasm)

  9. Roger McManus Guest

    Don't forget Eastern Airlines deal for $750 for 21 days of unlimited flying (but not to the same airport twice, except for plane changing. Great fun.

  10. dander Guest

    America west had it for a few years. It was great.

  11. Arie Guest

    Air Canada has had flight passes for years now. Both for regional travel and for all of north america. They primarily target business travelers and students.

  12. Deborah Guest

    JetBlue's pass should have been called "All you can take".

  13. Steve from LA Member

    Eskimo got it right. Good idea, poor execution. The available routes do not seem that useful unless you happen to live in San Diego. Sure they are going to appeal to some, but I think the audience is going to be very limited given the routings.

    While this might not be a very good way to reach the one world emerald status Art-Czar was thinking about, it could be useful to get to those...

    Eskimo got it right. Good idea, poor execution. The available routes do not seem that useful unless you happen to live in San Diego. Sure they are going to appeal to some, but I think the audience is going to be very limited given the routings.

    While this might not be a very good way to reach the one world emerald status Art-Czar was thinking about, it could be useful to get to those 24 segments needed to hit MVP Gold 100K. Still I am struggling to see how this would warrant the annual commitment. If the only way you are going to hit the 24 segments is through this promotion, then MVP Gold 100K status probably isn't worth it for you.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      It's much cheaper to buy OWE through AA spending than doing mileage runs on AS.

    2. Lyn Guest

      Continental Airlines had something very similar for at least several years (in the early to mid 90's I think.) Passholders could take one flight anywhere in Continental US (but including Puerto Rico) per week.

  14. Eskimo Guest

    Good idea, stupid execution. Not very user friendly.

    I would rather pay upfront and get the credits upfront rather than waiting to take one trip every month or lose it to expiration.

  15. rrapynot Guest

    Some fares on Alaska routes are quite expensive, especially out of smaller airports like STS. It’s not uncommon to see roundtrips as between STS and SAN cost over $800.

    1. Regis Guest

      I live in Santa Rosa and fly out of and into STS a lot on AS. Advance purchase, non-saver fares, on AS range from $49-$99, depending on the destination. I have never seen a $800 fare out of STS.

  16. magice Member

    This is super confusing. The text says Flight Pass works with all nonstops between CA, NV, and AZ. However, in their map, Phoenix only shows to SFO, but not SJC (which supposedly they also have nonstop).

  17. Robert Brown Guest

    Shows my age. In the (early 90s) you could buy a Delta pass giving you unlimited standby travel over a one month period. The cost was $400. Got great value out of mine.

    1. OPR Member

      Back in college I had a friend who would spend entire vacations flying from one place to the next on those passes. Catch some sleep on a coast-to-coast red-eye and fill up on any extra meals FAs would be willing to surrender... Student life :).

  18. Sam Guest

    Adjust for inflation, compared to the prices listed for past programs in the comments, seems like a good deal if you can use it. If they came up with a similar scheme in SEA, might be fun to see what DL does in response.

  19. Tina Guest

    This would be perfect for me, as I travel between Bend and Ontario several times a year to visit my son.

    1. magice Member

      I don't think either Bend or Ontario are included?

  20. ignacio Guest

    All the above are mentioning prepaid flights. That is drastically different that what Alaska is offering. You can choose different destinations, this will stimulate demand for sure.

    1. Mike Guest

      It depends on where you live. For someone who lives in one of the markets where AS has multiple destinations on the list, it might be worthwhile, but if your home airport happens to be MRY, SBA, SBP, RNO, or PHX, you don’t get that luxury.

      And as someone whose home airport is on this list, there is no way that I’d buy this - since $30 of taxes are attached to each ticket, I’d...

      It depends on where you live. For someone who lives in one of the markets where AS has multiple destinations on the list, it might be worthwhile, but if your home airport happens to be MRY, SBA, SBP, RNO, or PHX, you don’t get that luxury.

      And as someone whose home airport is on this list, there is no way that I’d buy this - since $30 of taxes are attached to each ticket, I’d be paying effectively $130 per round trip for something that I can pay $140 for now (at the non-saver price), without being locked into a 12-month subscription.

      So yes, for me and anyone who doesn’t live in a place that is LAX, SAN, or SFO, it’s effectively prepaying for flights, given the relative lack of choice of flights (or the absolute lack of choice, in some cities).

  21. GBOAC Diamond

    Way back in the mid 80s, a small west coast startup airline, Pacific Express, offered a book of 10 coupons (good for any flight) for $450. A buddy and I invested in one and used several of them until they went belly-up. I suspect the coupon book was a way to raise cash???

  22. Sammy Guest

    "first-ever flight subscription service in the United States"

    Really? Seems like this is just another spin on the original AirPass from AA back in the 80s.

  23. June Shaffer Guest

    I think that if you fly once or twice a year to the same destination they should offer the same deal. My children and grandchildren live in Tennessee I'm in Washington state . I'm practically always going to fly a couple times a year. And I always fly Alaska airlines.

  24. Art_Czar Member

    Ben - Would this be an economical mileage run option to earn One World Emerald staus?

    1. K2 Guest

      I doubt it. I think the longest segment from this pass is Bay Area to Phoenix. That is about ~650 miles one way, for at cheapest $64. If you fly Bay Area to New York, that's ~2500 miles and you can routinely get tickets for $99-$149 one way. That's a much more economical option for trying to get 75K/OW Emerald.

  25. Pepino Guest

    Air Canada offers a range of flight passes.

  26. Chris K Gold

    Back in the day US Airways used to sell student packs for the NY to BOS or NY to DC and vice versa. I think it was $500 and was for 10 segments. It was great as had no restrictions and saved this student a ton of money. Might be nice to see stuff like that return for well established routes.

    1. Jefferson Guest

      TWA did something similar with student packs. I used them to get between NE and SoCal many times in the late 90s/early 2000s. I don't remember costs, but I think it was a similar structure (x flights for a fixed fee). Lots of flights via STL back then.

    2. DavidS Guest

      I was a beneficiary of these. It was 4x one ways anywhere in continental US on TWA for $500. Loved it going coast to coast through STL into a sml regional.

    3. shza Member

      Delta also offered this. When I was a student from the DC area going to college in NYC in the late 90s, I got 4-packs of one-way LGA-DCA Delta Shuttle tickets for $240. Cheaper, nicer, and far more reliable than taking Amtrak (which typically meant not getting a seat until Philadelphia around Thanksgiving).

    4. guisun Gold

      I used to get the same. Myself and childhood friends that came to US for university, were mostly in the DC and NY universities. So we would buy these Delta packs for meet ups in DC or NYC.

    5. Keith S. Guest

      I used to fly that NY to BOS shuttle route when I went to school in Boston! I remember just showing up at Logan Airport, and waiting until the next "shuttle" showed up that you could board. Oh, and the other airline that did the same thing back then? Trump Airlines! I wonder what ever happened to that guy....

  27. Jim Guest

    I applaud innovation in the passenger aviation sector. I imagine that while the market for FlightPass will be somewhat niche, the purpose is to build brand loyalty among that niche... and it will do that very nicely.

    1. Sammy Guest

      well its not really "innovation" - see the other past examples already in comments (AA, HP, TW, etc). Kinda shocked Ben fell for AS PR's "innovative" spin on it

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Chris K Gold

Back in the day US Airways used to sell student packs for the NY to BOS or NY to DC and vice versa. I think it was $500 and was for 10 segments. It was great as had no restrictions and saved this student a ton of money. Might be nice to see stuff like that return for well established routes.

3
Allison Guest

Would have been fantastic if the Pacific Northwest cities were included. I would definitely purchased.

1
OPR Member

Back in college I had a friend who would spend entire vacations flying from one place to the next on those passes. Catch some sleep on a coast-to-coast red-eye and fill up on any extra meals FAs would be willing to surrender... Student life :).

1
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