Which unlimited flight pass is right for you?


You mean there’s more than one?

Indeed, there is. Not only does JetBlue have their All You Can Jet pass available again (in two different flavors) for 2010 but Sun Country has a similar pass available. So which one, if any, is right for you? Here are a couple deciding points:

How often are you going to fly?

Seems like a simple question, but this is really the crux of the decision tree. If you’ve got more than two round-trip itineraries in mind then you can start to consider the pass. Anything less than that and the deal is almost certainly not going to work out in your favor. Sure, you might make it work on the random already high-priced trip that you want to take next month, but those payoffs are going to be less common.

Where do you live?

If you live in Minneapolis then the Sun Country Fall Free for All pass is worth considering. If you do not, it is probably not. Their route network simply isn’t broad enough to cover enough other locations. Unless you happen to live in one of their other cities and are flying to Minneapolis a lot in September, then maybe.

If you live in New York City, Boston, Los Angeles (such that Long Beach is convenient for you), Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando or near Washington Dulles then the JetBlue AYCJ pass is worth considering. Hardly a surprise as those are the main hubs of the carrier. And, similar to the Sun Country pass, if you happen to be flying to those cities a bit during the month then it is potentially a good deal.

How far do you want to go?

Flying locally (say NYC – Rochester)? Probably not a great deal unless you’re going to do it every day. Those flights are still generally inexpensive so the pass isn’t particularly compelling. Even some of the NYC/Boston – Florida routes are still reasonably priced and not really compelling. For folks flying lots of longer flights – mid-con/transcon and Caribbean or Latin America routes – the pass is quite compelling. The international routes still require paying taxes so the costs will climb a bit, but the airfares will still be cheaper.

How tight is your schedule?

Got a real job and no vacation time? You’re certainly not going to use the passes effectively for long weekends or crazy holidays. But if you’re commuting for meetings or site visits then the passes save some serious coin. If you’re going to try to squeeze trips in on the weekends then the Friday/Sunday travel requirement is probably going to bite you to the tune of an extra $200. Still not so bad considering that those flights are generally more expensive anyways.

Oh, and the Sun Country pass lasts a full week past the JetBlue AYCJ pass so that helps amortize the costs a bit as well.

How do you feel about taxes?

Death and taxes – facts of life, right? Well, in the case of taxes on these passes, only sortof. The JetBlue AYCJ pass includes all domestic taxes, passenger facility fees, random governmental surcharges and other stuff. In other words, so long as you stay in the USA (excluding Puerto Rico) you’ll fly for free once you’ve paid for the pass. Sun Country is charging all those little fees for each trip booked with their pass. The costs should be relatively low – less than $10 on most tickets – but it can add up.

On the international (and Puerto Rico) travel front, there are also a number of governmental taxes charged. You’re going to be paying those either way, up to $100 on some routes. You’re going to be paying that whether you buy the pass or not, though, so I call that a wash.

How set is your schedule?

The JetBlue AYCJ pass is much more flexible than the Sun Country pass for change fees. Once a flight is booked on the Sun Country pass all changes will cost up with fees ranging between $50-75. On the JetBlue side, any changes more than 3 days out are free. That means you can make and change reservations as much as you want, so long as you’re a few days out from travel. Unless your schedule is very fixed, the Sun Country pass could actually become very expensive.

How obsessed are you with earning points?

If the answer is anything above “barely” then these plans are probably not compelling. Neither plan will permit unlimited frequent flyer point accumulation; both are fixed. For JetBlue it does not appear that the flights will earn GoBig or GoLong bonus thresholds, either. If you’re in it for the points you’re not going to benefit from these passes.

  AYCJ $699 AYCJ $499 Sun Country $499
Date limits Any day between 7 September and 6 October, inclusive No Friday or Sunday departures Any day between 7 September and 13 October, inclusive
Route Network 60 destinations; codeshare/interline flights excluded 29 destinations
Extra costs None for domestic (non-PR) flights; government taxes for international/PR flights PFCs/segment fees on all flights; government taxes on international, too.
Change/Cancellation Fees None for 3+ days out; $50 inside 3 days. $50-75 for all changes.

 

So, which pass is right for you? Maybe none of the above. I know that the $699 AYCJ pass is right for me, but I also plan to be flying most of the 30 days.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

2 Comments

  1. Sun Country may have 29 destinations – but only 15 are available to fly to from MSP in September and 14 in October. Rules out a lot of the possibilities of that unlimited ticket!

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