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How Much Would You Pay UA, if anything, for a AAirpass (Unlimited Flights for x Time)

How Much Would You Pay UA, if anything, for a AAirpass (Unlimited Flights for x Time)

Old Mar 18, 20, 2:26 pm
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Question How Much Would You Pay UA, if anything, for a AAirpass (Unlimited Flights for x Time)

Stepping away from the market carnage I got to thinking about the story of how AA (and I think UA too? Maybe others?) offered an "AAirpass" in the early 80's. As I recall the airlines did it as they believed it was cheaper to raise capital in this manner than through other options. In the long run, AA seems to have underestimated the true cost of the program but AAirpass customers did survive AA's bankruptcy and their AAirpasses remain valid. I want to say UA had a similar program as well but cannot recall the details.

From wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AAirpass

AAirpass was a membership-based discount program offered by American Airlines to frequent flyers launched in 1981. The program is best known for a previous offering of unlimited travel on American Airlines and unlimited access to Admirals Club locations. Pass holders were offered terms of five years or lifetime.



When AA launched the program in 1981 the cost was $250,000 (or about $711,000 in 2020) and allowed the holder of the pass unlimited lifetime travel on AA. Basically imagine an IATP card where you could only buy tickets on AA for yourself and never had to pay the bill. An option existed to add a companion for an additional $100,000 (or about $285,000 in 2020). While the companion could change, the companion always had to accompany the passholder.

As the tickets were revenue tickets, points were earned for travel and subject to the T&Cs of AAdvantage.

Anyways the question I have for the UA forum is considering where we are at, is there an amount you would consider kicking over to UA for unlimited, lifetime, revenue-based, front cabin travel?
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Old Mar 18, 20, 2:38 pm
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This is hard. I wouldnt be GS but I would be essentially 1K?

$300k. Assuming 25 good years of flying but a downturn in 15 years.
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Old Mar 18, 20, 2:47 pm
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I wonder if we might see a more consumer-oriented PassPlus product... pre-paying for a certain dollar-figure of travel and then a declining balance with a fare-basis discount or other perks.

Right now United's biggest issue, clearly, is cash flow, but I don't know if United would consider a lifetime AAirpass type of product.

Such a thing, in today's market (as depressed as it may be) would probably be worth in the neighborhood of $1m.
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Old Mar 18, 20, 2:50 pm
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I'm not buying anything from UA now and am using miles for future travel reservations. As for an airpass card, UA has a history of not honoring prior commitments so I wouldn't trust them with a pre-paid product.
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Old Mar 18, 20, 2:56 pm
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Would depend on the terms since UA has set precedents recinding many intrinsic so called "lifetime" benefits. I think the sentiment is that with eroded trust UA has shown many flyers; would they sell me this pass with their "fingers crossed"? My 8 ball says....Most likely
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Old Mar 18, 20, 2:58 pm
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It's been well publicized how much AA lost on those lifetime deals - nobody is going to replicate it.
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Old Mar 18, 20, 2:58 pm
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Originally Posted by EWR764 View Post
I wonder if we might see a more consumer-oriented PassPlus product... pre-paying for a certain dollar-figure of travel and then a declining balance with a fare-basis discount or other perks.
thats passplus flex - it exists right now

discounts on some fare buckets, free statuses (depending on your buyin)s

United (UA) Pass Plus Secure/ Flex -- Benefits, Value, Questions .... [Consolidated]


https://www.texasmonthly.com/article...-tickets-back/
In 1981, American Airlines began selling unlimited AAirpasses. Over the life of the program, the company sold 65 unlimited AAirpasses to people including Michael Dell and Willie Mays. (The company last offered one for sale in the pages of the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog in 2004 for a cool $3 million.)

(apparently no buyers for 3mm. so price should be between 1mm (present value of the passes sold in 1980) to 3mm, maybe less due to the currentn risk(

Last edited by paperwastage; Mar 18, 20 at 3:05 pm
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Old Mar 18, 20, 3:09 pm
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There were extremely high interest rates back then, which made the airlines turn to such measurements afaik - and yes, I doubt they'd do it again, at least not for anything below 2-3 million USD.

Considering they can (and will!) crack down on anything "funny" with a companion OR selling your miles against cash, you can't really make money out of it. If you're a super-heavy traveller anyway, you might come out positive of it after a few years (Assuming 1 million USD costs), but then the limitation on one airline will mean you don't have much choice. Plus, if they go out of business, it's bye-bye "lifetime". And as we can see right now, that's definitely an option for many airlines around the world!

I enjoy my job too much and while I like travelling, I'd not want to travel 7/24. Maybe if they'd allow selling miles, it would be an option to "refinance" that thingy by constantly flying. Zero costs of living, and IF you can do "work from home", it might be a possibility. A crazy one, but it could be an option..
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Old Mar 18, 20, 3:12 pm
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well it ain't going to be 300k. I don't know who in their right mind would give UA a million or two .
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Old Mar 18, 20, 3:13 pm
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They wouldn't offer it to me at a price I would pay. $5,000, maybe? As other people have pointed out, I don't trust UA not to renege on its "guarantees."
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Old Mar 18, 20, 3:16 pm
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Originally Posted by HNLbasedFlyer View Post
It's been well publicized how much AA lost on those lifetime deals - nobody is going to replicate it.
I wonder if airlines could price it based on age as a way to mitigate the liability? I know it would obviously be (inverse) age discrimination, but would it be against the law? Insurance industry can do it, not sure about airlines. Or offer a full price, then discount for seniors?
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Old Mar 18, 20, 3:16 pm
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Originally Posted by paperwastage View Post
thats passplus flex - it exists right now

discounts on some fare buckets, free statuses (depending on your buyin)s

United (UA) Pass Plus Secure/ Flex -- Benefits, Value, Questions .... [Consolidated]


https://www.texasmonthly.com/article...-tickets-back/
In 1981, American Airlines began selling unlimited AAirpasses. Over the life of the program, the company sold 65 unlimited AAirpasses to people including Michael Dell and Willie Mays. (The company last offered one for sale in the pages of the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog in 2004 for a cool $3 million.)

(apparently no buyers for 3mm. so price should be between 1mm (present value of the passes sold in 1980) to 3mm, maybe less due to the currentn risk(
Right, but at $25k, the PP Flex is probably not something most individuals would consider.

OTOH, $10k up front for ~15k in value down the road, might be more palatable. In any event, I imagine UA is considering things like this. Open tickets are another possibility?
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Old Mar 18, 20, 4:07 pm
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How would points earning on flights booked with such a pass work now that everything is revenue based?
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Old Mar 18, 20, 4:13 pm
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Originally Posted by zymm View Post
How would points earning on flights booked with such a pass work now that everything is revenue based?
For the purposes of the discussion -- it's a hypothetical, after all -- figure that they would be treated as bulk fares that booked into P. Those earn 30% of the distance as PQP. (distance * 1.5 / 5)
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Old Mar 18, 20, 4:26 pm
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Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
I wonder if airlines could price it based on age as a way to mitigate the liability? I know it would obviously be (inverse) age discrimination, but would it be against the law? Insurance industry can do it, not sure about airlines. Or offer a full price, then discount for seniors?
Interesting question . . . easier way around that would be to do a 5 year or 10 year version.
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