Alaska Airlines is the first-ever U.S.-based carrier to enter the subscription economy with the launch of a new ‘Flight Pass’ subscription service with prices starting from $49 per month for six flights across California.
From meal kits to shavers and underwear to toothbrush heads, the subscription economy is big business. The phrase, coined by Zuora chief executive Tien Tzuo describes how companies are shifting from selling one-off transactions to building relationships through ongoing subscriptions.
Of course, airlines have long built relationships through frequent flyer clubs but with modern travelers more savvy than ever, the subscription model for airlines could be exactly what consumers are after. And in the home of Netflix and Uber, what better place to start than in California.
“Flight Pass will provide more options, value and care with every trip that our guests book, while also transforming the travel experience long-term,” commented Neil Thwaites, regional vice president of California for Alaska Airlines.
Thwaites explained how the Flight Pass will work with travelers able to pick a budget plan from $49 per month which is best value but with less flexibility or there’s a premium plan starting at $199 per month.
The standard Flight Pass requires subscribers to book a flight at least 14-days and up to 90 days in advance, whereas Flight Pass Pro allows same-day flight bookings within 2-hours of departure.
The lowest annual cost is $588 for six flights per year or $98 per flight in the Main Cabin – although subscribers will still be required to pay government taxes, airport fees and a ‘nominal fare’ which in most cases will only be $0.01.
The base subscription charge is for just six annual flights with additional charges for 12 or 24 annual flights. The subscription service can be used on 100 daily flights connecting 13 California airports, as well as Reno, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Similar schemes have had limited success in other countries. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways recently launched a subscription-style flight service, while SWISS has offered a carnet ticket for a number of years.
Usually popular among business travelers who know they’ll be flying regularly between set airports, Alaska appears to be trying to target leisure passengers with its latest offer, pointing to travel trend reports that show Americans are planning domestic travel to beach destinations.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.