Nowadays, airlines are offering all sorts of purchasable incentives (baggage delivery services, subscription fees for checked bags) to make the travel experience easier and to keep customers coming back. But when it comes to actually dishing out the cash to pay for these “amenities” are they really worth it? Recently, Silver Airways, a small airline under United Airlines and 2013 Regional Airline of the Year, created SunPac, a new program that allows travelers to purchase a 12- or 24-pack of one-way flights. With prices for 12-packs ranging from $1,777 to $2,744 (that’s anywhere from $148 to $228 per one-way flight), it might sound appealing. But consider how short these flights are, and the fact that the airline itself advertises one-way fares on the same routes from $69 to $89. So is it worth it? Here’s the breakdown:
The destinations are limited: If you’re doing a lot of travel between cities in Florida, or between Florida and the Bahamas, this flight pack is for you. The widest variety of flights is available from Fort Lauderdale or Tampa, and destinations include Key West, Pensacola, and Jacksonville in Florida, and Eleuthera, Freeport, and Marsh Harbor in the Bahamas. Limited? Sure. But if you own a vacation home or are commuting for work or school, this could make sense for you.
Flights have a limited number of SunPac seats: Every flight has a restricted number of seats that are devoted to SunPac ticketholders. So you’ll need to book your flight as soon as you know what your schedule is, or you could miss out on getting the itinerary you want.
Your baggage flies free: If you’re a heavy packer, the SunPac will definitely save you a few dollars. You get to check two complimentary bags with the pass. For two bags on a domestic flight through Silver Airways, you’ll pay $60 total; two bags cost $65 on international flights, total.
No cancellation or change fees: This is huge for an airline to offer; SunPac customers can change their flight at the last minute, cancel it, or even transfer a ticket to someone else.
You can’t book online: While you can purchase the actual SunPac online, you cannot book your individual tickets online. You have to call their reservation center (800-881-4999) to book, which inevitably will end up adding an extra hassle to the whole process.
The verdict: Unless you’re constantly traveling in Florida or the Bahamas, at least right now, the SunPac is probably not for you. While the package might not be appealing to the average traveler, it could work well if you’re a business traveler in need of a flexible flight schedule, have a vacation home somewhere near one of the destinations, or are a commuter from one of the cities. If Silver adds more routes, which they say they’re planning on doing (if you sign up for the newsletter, you’ll get email alerts about new routes), this may be more appealing to a wider range of travelers. They currently run flights out of Washington, D.C., Cleveland, Atlanta, and more.