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[READER QUESTION] Are Airline Flight Passes Worth It?

I have been asked this question many times by Pointshogger readers: “Whether airline flight passes are worth it?” The short answer is, it depends. Flight Passes are a prepaid package of one-way flight credits used for travel within a selected geographic zone, during a specific period, either for a set or unlimited number of flights.

Air Canada and Porter Airlines are two airlines that have flight passes in Canada. As usual, I always say, do the calculations to see if it is worthwhile for you to get. For the purposes of showing an example of a calculation, I will use the Porter Pass for illustration.

For example, if you purchase a Porter Pass for 10 trips only between Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto (also called the “Triangle Pass”, which is valid for 365 days, you have 3 options:

  • Firm fares – $1,490
  • Flexible fares – $2,290
  • Freedom fares – $2,990

The differences between the 3 fares are the terms and conditions that go along with them. Below are some of the highlights distinguishing each fare class:

Firm

  • Eligible VIPorter members earn 375 VIPorter points per direction
  • Flights must be booked a minimum of 7 days in advance of travel
  • Valid for weekday travel from 6–6:59 a.m., 10 a.m.–2:59 p.m. and 7:01–11:59 p.m. and weekend travel
  • No changes are permitted within 7 days of travel, including same day changes at the airport.
  • Changes or cancellations are permitted online or through the Call Centre for a fee between $84.75 and $86.25 ($75 plus local applicable taxes) per passenger per direction, subject to availability.

Flexible

  • Eligible VIPorter members earn 750 VIPorter points per direction
  • Book your flight up to 1 hour before travel
  • Same-day changes at the airport are free of charge, subject to availability.
  • Travel any time, subject to availability in Porter Flexible Class
  • Changes or cancellations are permitted online or through the Call Centre up to 1 hour prior to departure time for a fee between $56.50 and $57.50 ($50 plus local applicable taxes) , subject to availability.

Freedom

  • Eligible VIPorter members earn 1500 VIPorter points per direction
  • Book your flight up to 1 hour prior to travel
  • Make changes to your reservation up to 1 hour prior to travel at no charge
  • Travel any time, subject to availability in Porter Freedom Class
  • Complimentary same-day changes are permitted at the airport, subject to seat availability

Going forward with the calculation, I would consider the following.

1) I would not overpay just to earn more points. The points are not worth paying extra money. The money savings is worth more than the additional points. I value Porter points at 5 cents a piece, which means:

  • 375 points = $18.75; so the package is worth = $18.75 x 10 = $187.50
  • 750 = $37.5; so the package is worth = $37.50 x 10 = $375.00
  • 1,500 points = $75; so the package is worth = $75 x 10 = $750

However between:

  • Firm and Flexible, you are paying $2,290 – $1,490 = $800 more
  • Flexible and Freedom, you are paying $2,990 – $2,290 = $700 more

2) The next factor I would consider is whether you feel that you can find cheaper tickets on your own. For each package, a one-way ticket costs:

  • Firm fares $1,490 / 10 = $149.00
  • Flexible fares $2,290 / 10 = $229.00
  • Freedom fares $2,990 / 10 = $299.00

Are you able to consistently find cheaper prices than these pre-paid prices? If so, then maybe you don’t need the package. I would strongly consider the package more if my travel dates are not flexible. If I knew that I constantly have to fly without knowing well ahead of time when I need to travel, then the package will probably make more sense.

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Pointshogger aims to provide analysis and updates on earning loyalty reward points and maximizing the value of your points. We hope to inspire our readers to experience the joy of travel and make the most out of what they've already got!

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