Alaska Airlines is the latest airline to launch a flight subscription service. The Seattle-based airline just launched Flight Pass, targeting West Coast travelers who fly frequently on the carrier’s most popular routes. The Flight Pass subscription includes dozens of eligible destinations within California or between California and Nevada or Arizona.
“Flight Pass builds on our mission to offer travelers the most West Coast destinations at the best value,” said Alex Corey, managing director of business development and products for Alaska Airlines, in a February 16, 2022 news release.
“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,” added Corey.
The annual subscription program offers two plans, each with three frequency options: six, 12, or 24 trips per year.
|Plan Type||Subscription Fee (paid monthly)||Booking Information|
|Flight Pass||$49, $99 or $189||Book flights as early as 90 days in advance, but at least 2 weeks in advance|
|Flight Pass Pro||$199, $399 or $749||Book flights as early as 90 days in advance, and as late as 2 hours in advance|
When a subscriber signs up for Flight Pass, they are committing to pay 12 monthly payments at the price quoted at sign-up. The price is fixed throughout the annual commitment period. Monthly payments, which are automatically deducted from the subscriber’s credit card, are then translated into credits which are redeemed for travel on eligible flights. In many cases, there is no additional fare for a flight, but some flights will require an additional fare, and blackout dates may apply.
Certain taxes and fees will apply to all tickets. For eligible flights, they are $14.60 to cover US Flight Segment tax, U.S. Transportation tax, Passenger Facility charge, and the September 11th Security fee. Payment for these taxes and fees are due at the time of booking.
Flight Pass subscriptions cannot be transferred to other passengers. Travelers can earn Alaska Air miles on each flight.
On its FAQs page, Alaska Airlines list three primary benefits to the Flight Plass Subscription program:
- Discounts: The monthly subscription fee is cheaper than the average price of a ticket on eligible flights. However, Alaska Airlines does not guarantee that the eligible flights will be cheaper than published fares.
- Peace of mind: Travel prices for eligible flights are locked in for the next year, and the monthly membership fee is fixed.
- Freedom to explore: With different destinations to choose from, frequent travelers can explore a variety of destinations, whether working, vacationing, or visiting family and friends.
“Alaska Airlines is uniquely positioned to help our West Coast guests experience more with direct access to destinations near and far from our expanding hubs,” said Neil Thwaites, regional vice president of California for Alaska Airlines. “Flight Pass will provide more options, value, and care with every trip that our guests book, while also transforming the travel experience long-term.”
In the title of its news release, Alaska Airlines says it is the “first-ever flight subscription service” in the U.S., but other regional airlines have tried subscription services before, though none of them really took off. Costco, for example, tried Wheels Up, a private aviation membership in 2020, for $17,500 a year. In 2018, Teleport offered subscribers flat-fee flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco. OneGo, Surf Air and Delta Private Jets (now called Wheels Up) also tried flight subscription services. Surf Air and Wheels Up are still in business, but it does not appear that any of the other flight subscription services are still in the air.
The tricky thing with flight subscription services is making them attractive enough to draw subscribers in while also making them financially viable for the airlines. Most of the services have been regional in nature, similar to the Alaska Airlines model, and many of them have been pricier and targeted a high-end clientele who can afford specialty services and private jets.
As someone who flies from Seattle to Phoenix frequently, I was excited to see this service launch, but equally disappointed to learn eligible flights do not include those originating from the city where Alaska Airlines is based. That said, I receive almost daily discounts and offers from Alaska Airlines, and air travel is picking up again. It almost feels like a desperate move, rather than a solid business decision. If it works though, perhaps the airline will consider expanding to other routes (I’d subscribe!), and it could potentially serve as a model to other airlines that travelers are ready to try something new with predictable pricing.