Air Canada has revisited a buffet-style “All You Can Fly” package that some US carriers have offered. Is there more to come?
Air Canada Plan
Air Canada is trying to get Canadians back in the sky. For the next few days, Canadian travelers can purchase unlimited flight memberships through the end of the year. The Infinite Canada Flight Pass is offered in three levels of service: Standard, Flex, and Latitude.
Only Canadian airports are eligible so there’s no ability to use the pass for long-haul international flights where the most value could be derived. Honestly, if a Canadian business person is flying trans-continental flights from Toronto to Vancouver on a regular basis, Latitude is a decent value.
The pass is available to Aeroplan members in Canada until September 23rd. Passes can be purchased for any month through the end of 2020.
Nothing New Under The Sun
This is not the first time a program like this has been offered. Jet Blue most recently offered something like this and was far more competitive. For $599, the All-You-Can-Jet pass offered unlimited flights for a one-month period to 56 destinations. Extremely frequent flyers could board any flight with an empty seat that the carrier flew to in the United States and the Caribbean. Some passengers might have been on JetBlue planes more than flight attendants with the nearly unlimited passes.
Pre-dating the Jet Blue offer, in the early 1980s American Airlines sold its AAirpass to shore up revenue shortfalls. For $250,000, the lifetime membership offered unlimited first-class travel for the purchaser and any guest of their choosing. The airline has since discontinued the product and pursued some of its 28 AAirpass customers for violations of the program rules.
Should There Be More All-You-Can-Fly?
Though many airlines are seeing an uptick in reservations, they are not close to full – even with open middle seats. One way to fill seats is to put consumers on airplanes that they may not otherwise occupy. Business travel will resume at some point, but not likely in 2020.
The question that is most pertinent is whether travelers should purchase a pass like this and whether more airlines should offer it. We already know that there is a risk to traveling (though much lower than most would think for short-haul flights with mitigation efforts) but airlines need to create demand. Is this the right way to do that?
I am not eligible for the Infinite Canada Air Pass and would be hard-pressed to find value at those price levels even if it were United offering the same for domestic US travel. If Jet Blue sold a revised version of its All-You-Can-Jet pass now for $599, I might be inclined to give it a try. However, with limited flight frequency and reduced destinations in the network, I am not sure that $599 would be cheap enough to move me to purchase.
While airlines could lock in some revenue at low marginal costs, it may also counter the image many have built of being very cautious while operating flights during COVID-19. Carriers might also find more interest given the new work-from-home business model that allows workers more flexibility to travel whenever they want.
What do you think? If you’re eligible, is this something you’d consider? Would you buy something similar from a US carrier?