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US carrier Frontier Airlines is launching an all-you-can-fly pass, joining the many businesses adopting a Netflix-style subscriber model.
The Denver-based airline sent the customers signed up to its mailing list an email on Wednesday announcing the “GoWild! Pass”, which it says will give buyers access to an “unlimited number of flights” to “all our destinations” for a year.
The message reads: “Last year alone, five million seats flew empty, now they could be yours.
“With your new GoWild! Pass you will be able to get confirmed for your flight the day before you take off on one of your limitless adventures, beginning spring 2023.”
“It’s first-come, first-served, so make sure you sign up for early access today and be the first to get the details and access to buy,” the airline adds.
No information has been released about any terms and conditions, nor the cost of the pass.
Customers can sign up for further information about it at this stage, with the pass set to be available from spring 2023.
Coffee shops such as Pret A Manger, car manufacturers such as Audi, BMW and Volvo and tech companies Amazon and Samsung have all added subscription models to their offering, whereby subscribers pay a set fee and then use a service as much as they like.
NHS England is even trialling a Netflix-style subscription for antibiotics, while the BBC has floated the idea of replacing its licence fee with a similar style of user payment.
Sov perhaps it was only a matter of time before commercial airlines dipped a toe into the monthly- or yearly-payment waters.
Frontier Airlines flies all over the US and into Central America and the Caribbean, to and from airports including Denver, Las Vegas, New Orleans, San Francisco, Orlando, Cancun and Jamaica.
Fares often start as low as $30 or $40 one way, meaning an annual pass could represent great savings on multiple cross-continent flights depending on how much the upfront subscription cost is.
Thestreet.com noted that the wording “available 300+ days a year” in the email suggested that there would be peak blackout dates for pass holders, when they cannot book flights, but the email wording did not seem to suggest there would be a cap on the number of flights.
In February, Alaska Airlines pioneered a similar scheme, where passengers paid a subscription fee to take six, 12, or 24 nonstop flights a year on select west coast routes, using the journeys wherever and whenever needed.
Alaska’s price starts at £49 and goes up to £199 for the maximum number of flights per year.
Star Flyer, a Japanese carrier, also launched a monthly subscription for business travellers flying regularly between Tokyo and Fukuoka.
It’s priced between 200,000 yen (£1,175) and 400,000 yen (£2,350) per month and allows unlimited flights between those two cities.
However, Frontier will have to seek strong legal guidance on what they deem “unlimited” flights for GoWild! pass holders.
One of the most infamous cases of an “unlimited” flight pass gone wrong was American Airlines’ “AAirpass”, launched in 1980.
New York investment banker Steven Rothstein bought the unlimited pass for $250,000 in the 1980s, and spent the subsequent 25 years flying non-stop in first class.
The airline stopped selling the pass in 1994 and, in 2009, withdrew it from Mr Rothstein on the grounds of “fraudulent usage”, saying that his trips were costing them $500,000 a year.
In response, the investment banker sued the airline for breaking a deal positioned as “unlimited”. The case wasn’t resolved until a summary judgement ruled in American Airlines’ favour in June 2011.
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