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Frequent flyers based on the U.S. west coast have a new option when it comes to paying for air travel. Alaska Airlines recently introduced a new subscription-based program called Flight Pass. The new program is open to anyone. However, the program only covers flights operated within three western states.
Over the years, a number of airlines have tried the subscription-based travel model to generate reoccurring revenue. United Airlines has “Miles by the Month” where you get a set number of miles in your account each month via subscription. Other airlines were quite ambitious in their plans. For example, American Airlines' original AAirpass program allowed members to travel wherever the airline flew, whenever they wanted, and in first class for their entire lives. The original AAirpass came at a cost of $250,000.
The latest subscription-based travel program is not nearly as ambitious. Still, the new program — Alaska Airlines Flight Pass — may be a unique way for some travelers to save some money. Here are the details of the new program and things to consider before signing up.
How Much Does Alaska Airlines Flight Pass Cost?
Alaska Airlines Flight Pass starts at just $49 per month. There is also a Flight Pass Pro option that starts at $199 per month. The differences between standard and Pro will be discussed in greater detail later in this post. That base price includes 1 round-trip every 2 months. Travelers can choose to upgrade to 1 round-trip flight every month or 2 round-trip flights every month.
Here is a breakdown of pricing:
|Flight Pass (6 Annual Credits)||Flight Pass (12 Annual Credits)||Flight Pass (24 Annual Credits)||Flight Pass Pro (6 Annual Credits)||Flight Pass Pro (12 Annual Credits)||Flight Pass Pro (24 Annual Credits)|
|Number of Credits per Month||0.5||1||2||0.5||1||2|
|Monthly Membership Fees||$49||$99||$189||$199||$399||$749|
|Subscription Cost per Round-Trip Itinerary||$98||$99||$94.50||$398||$399||$374.50|
Which Routes Are Included in Alaska Airlines Flight Pass?
The Alaska Airlines Flight Pass program applies to a handful of routes. All of Alaska Airlines' flights that operate within or between Arizona, California, and Nevada are eligible when redeeming program credits. Since Alaska Airlines acquired Virgin America in 2016, Alaska Airlines has focused heavily on expanding its presence along the West Coast. As a result, Flight Pass credits can be redeemed for dozens of routes.
Here are some of the eligible routes:
- Las Vegas (LAS) to Los Angeles (LAX)
- Las Vegas (LAS) to San Francisco (SFO)
- Los Angeles (LAX) to San Francisco (SFO)
- Los Angeles (LAX) to Sonoma County Airport (STS)
- San Diego (SAN) to Fresno (FAT)
- San Diego (SAN) to San Jose, CA (SJC)
- San Francisco (SFO) to Palm Springs (PSP)
- San Francisco (SFO) to Phoenix (PHX)
How Does Alaska Flight Pass Work?
Depending on the tier a member selects, they will receive 1 credit every other month, 1 credit every month, or 2 credits every month. A credit equals 1 roundtrip itinerary.
Travelers who sign up for Flight Pass must agree to make 12 monthly payments at the fixed monthly rate they picked during registration. Flight Pass memberships cannot be canceled. So, if you sign up for Flight Pass, you are required to pay monthly dues for an entire year.
Additionally, all credits must be used the month they are received. This means that you cannot save up your credits and redeem them all during the final month of your membership.
In short, if you receive a credit on March 1, you must use that Flight Pass credit before you receive your next credit. If you select the every-other-month option, this means that you have until April 30 to use your March credit. For those with the monthly option, you have until March 31 to use your March credit. If you do not use monthly credits before you receive your next credit, you will lose them.
Lastly, you cannot transfer your membership or your flight credits to anyone else. Only the subscriber can fly on the Flight Pass credits.
Redeeming Flight Pass Credits
To redeem Flight Pass credits, travelers will head to the Alaska Airlines Flight Pass website, log in, and begin the booking process. If they search for an eligible route, they will have the option to apply a Flight Pass credit.
Flights won't be totally free; members will pay additional fees and surcharges. Flight Pass fares are priced at $0.01 for most flights. In addition to the 1-cent fare, members will also pay $14.60 for each flight or $29.20 round-trip. These amounts cover all of the surcharges including the September 11th Security Fee, Facilities Fees, and other flight-related taxes.
Additionally, Flight Pass fares might not always be $0.01. According to the program's terms and conditions, Alaska Airlines reserves the right to charge a premium on select flights. The airline says it may charge a premium on select flights to prevent members from having to navigate blackout dates. Unfortunately, this premium fare is not published.
While you can book your flights online, you cannot change or cancel them online. You'll have to call to do that.
Flight Pass or Flight Pass Pro?
Alaska Airlines offers two variations of its Flight Pass program. Travelers can choose between the standard Flight Pass or the more flexible Flight Pass Pro. Aside from Flight Pass Pro offering significantly more flexibility, there are minimal differences between the two.
|Flight Pass||Flight Pass Pro|
|Advanced Reservation Requirement||14 Days||0 Days|
|Book Up to||90 Days from Day of Travel||90 Days from Day of Travel|
Both Flight Pass and Flight Pass Pro restrict bookings more than 90 days before a flight. The most significant difference is that Flight Pass Pro allows members to book on the day of departure. Standard Flight Pass members will need to book 14 days out to redeem credits.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and Flight Pass
Mileage Plan elite members will still be able to take advantage of Mileage Plan benefits. Flight Pass bookings are booked into Main Cabin — not Basic Economy / Saver fares. Thus, members will earn one mile for every mile flown. Flights booked using Flight Pass credits will also count towards elite status requirements.
Mileage Plan members with elite status and Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cardholders will also enjoy their benefits when redeeming Flight Pass credit.
Is Alaska Airlines Flight Pass a Good Deal?
Whether or not Alaska Airlines Flight Pass is a good deal will depend on whether or not you're a frequent flyer on any of the eligible routes. However, even if you do find yourself traveling between Los Angeles and Las Vegas once a month, Flight Pass might not be any cheaper than paying for a flight.
Subscription-based programs like Flight Pass are essentially betting that the fixed monthly fees associated with a membership will outweigh the cost to purchase a flight.
Here's a breakdown of some of the costs to book popular routes operated by Alaska Airlines:
|Route||Lowest round-trip economy fare|
|Los Angles to Las Vegas||$98|
|San Francisco to Los Angeles||$88|
|San Francisco to Phoenix||$99|
|Orange County to Sonoma County||$158|
Travelers should determine which routes they travel the most. If that route is from San Francisco to Phoenix, the Flight Pass program can save you quite a bit — especially over the course of a year. However, if that route is from San Francisco to Los Angeles, there is no guarantee that Flight Pass will save you money.
Ultimately, the value of Alaska Airlines Flight Pass is entirely determined by the frequency with which a member travels certain routes and how often members may need a last-minute ticket on a costly flight. That being said, this program is only beneficial to a select group of frequent flyers.
The Bottom Line
Subscription-based models like Flight Pass are unique and can be cost-effective. However, Alaska Airlines Flight Pass is extremely limited in the benefit it offers to most travelers. There are some positive aspects of the program, including the ability of Mileage Plan members to credit Flight Pass travel to their account. Other than the compatibility with Mileage Plan, Flight Pass is not all that exciting. Additionally, for some, it might not even be the most cost-effective option.
Travelers who are interested in joining Alaska Airlines Flight Pass can Alaska Airlines Flight Pass
What do you make of Alaska Airlines Flight Pass? Do you plan on signing up for the Flight Pass program?
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