Unlimited flights: All-you-can-fly passes, giveaways aim to lure travelers

Frontier offers unlimited flight pass


Frontier Airlines offers unlimited summer flight pass

04:29

A few years ago, Jet Blue sold a systemwide air pass for about $800 — and it was so popular, the airline had to withdraw the offer. Now, the concept — if not that particular deal — has returned, this time marketed by a different airline. Frontier Airlines has announced an all you can fly pass for this summer. The price? Just $399.  It’s called the GO WILD pass, and you can use it to fly between May 2 and Sept. 30 this year on an unlimited number of domestic and international flights. And for $1,299, you can buy an annual all-you-can-fly pass, which used to be marketed for $2,000.

Now for the fine print: You need to have flexibility in your schedule because you can only reserve a seat one day in advance — if it’s available — and the same applies for your return flight.

On international routes — which include Belize, Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala, among others — the airline gives you a little more leeway: up to 10 days in advance. But a note of caution there as well: Frontier doesn’t fly many of its international routes on a daily basis. On some, it’s only one flight a week. Frontier has a robust domestic flight network, so you have lots of choices in the U.S. 

The other cautions: You’ll still pay for seat selection as well as checked bags, but if you don’t mind where you sit and you’re a backpacker, these fares are especially attractive.

These fares do have some black-out dates, and those include some summer holidays. And if you’re traveling one way and want to return, you’ll need to be aware that if return flights are full, you’ll end up on a longer trip.

And if you can’t get space on the return flight, you’ll need to budget for accommodations until you do confirm a seat — so budget before you book your trip with that in mind, just in case the planes are full on the dates you want to return.

Still, if you have flexibility, and considering how high airfares have been and still are,  you can save some serious money.

And then, there’s the big push from Hong Kong to get travelers to return. In 2018 and 2019, Hong Kong enjoyed an average of nearly 60 million visitors. And by March 2020, that number had dropped a staggering 97%. And with strict quarantine rules, the visitor numbers stayed at those greatly depressed levels until just recently, when Hong Kong finally relaxed the rules and allowed foreign visitors to enter.

The Hong Kong Tourism folks, in an attempt to stimulate new interest among first time, have spent about $255 million to give away 500,000 free airline tickets. The giveaway campaign starts March 1 and will be rolled out in phases, based on geographic region. The U.S. giveaway starts May 1. The participating airline is cathay pacific, and people who want to be eligible for the giveaway need to contact the airline directly. Until recently, Cathay Pacific’s load factor — meaning, the amount of seats full on its flights — was an anemic 32%, so the giveaway couldn’t come at a better time.

Of course, the ticket giveaway does not include accommodations, so prospective Hong Kong travelers need to factor that into their budgets. 

While Hong Kong is officially open and Americans don’t need a visa to travel there, check the State Department website for the latest travel advisories, make sure you’re vaccinated and have proof of vaccination.

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