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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.