VIPorter Earn + Burn Rates Announced


The new VIPorter program from Porter Airlines has three tiers
The new VIPorter program from Porter Airlines has three tiers

Last month Porter Air indicated it was converting to a revenue-based loyalty scheme for its VIPorter program but did not have much in the way of details. This week the change was unveiled and, well, it is definitely revenue-based. Here’s a first look at the numbers.

Earn Rates

Earning starts at a simple 5 points/dollar rate for all passengers. There is also a kicker earning rate for the two new elite tiers in the program. The “Passport” tier (reached at $1500 in annual spend) earns at 6 points/dollar and the “Priority” tier (reached at $3000 annual spend) earns at 7 points/dollar. Those tiers are relatively easy to accomplish, even for a pure leisure traveler, though it is important to note that they exclude all taxes from the calculations and, especially in Canada, taxes & fees are a big part of what a customer pays.

The new VIPorter program from Porter Airlines has three tiers
The new VIPorter program from Porter Airlines has three tiers, each with its own earning rate

Burn Rates

On the redemption side things become particularly interesting. There are three ways to buy tickets now:

  • All Cash
  • Points + Tax
  • Dollars + Points

The Points + Tax option is what has been traditionally known as an award ticket; Porter does a very good job of calling out that there is a tax component and on the search results screen the fee portion is readily apparent. I like that. And, for each of the three fare types offered, the taxes are the same so on a Points + Tax search the cash component is consistent while the number of points required varies.

Different redemption rates depending on the type of ticket you redeem
Different redemption rates depending on the type of ticket you redeem

The Dollars + Points option offers awards for a bit more cash and a lower number of points. Unlike the Points + Tax option the cash component varies, while the number of points required for Dollars+ Points is half of the Points + Tax in all my searches. The cash component of the Dollars + Points rates varies significantly. I see it as low as 15% of the base fare and as high as 60%+ of the base fare ($48 is the lowest I saw while $293 is the highest), with no discernible pattern I can uncover. I also found scenarios where the same cash fare on the same route on the same day had different points costs; the numbers are not fixed.

Read more: Porter Air Joins the Revenue-Based Loyalty Revolution

The value of a VIPorter point also varies significantly within the sample of redemption options I scanned and, again, with little to suggest there is a pattern to the numbers. The least expensive award I see in terms of total points required is 3000 while the most expensive is 32,500. I will not be surprised if someone else finds one more expensive; I will be a bit surprised if something less expensive crops up. The best cents/point value I found was 4.1 cents/VIPorter point; the worst was 0.5 cents/point. In both cases that was on a trip where the cheapest of the three fare families was available and also on a Dollars + Points reward.

Chart of Point Values in the new Porter Air VIPorter Revenue-Based Program
Chart of Point Values in the new Porter Air VIPorter Revenue-Based Program

Total Value

The average point value I saw for Points + Tax awards is 1.34 cents; the average for Dollars + Points is 1.52 cents. With an typical earn rate of 5 points/dollar this ends up somewhere around a 7.5% return on the program, but that also assumes earn on the total value of spend. As previously noted taxes are not included and they can easily exceed 20% of the total fare paid. Backing that out suggests that the program is closer to a 5-6% return overall on travel spend, with incremental improvements for those who spend more over the course of a year.

What is perhaps the most interesting about the new program is that it is likely a downgrade for those buying the higher fares. Under the old VIPorter scheme they could see a return as high as 20% for buying full fare and redeeming on cheap seats. The new program drops inventory restrictions but also puts those customers at a return below 10%. Conversely, the low end customer in the past would be earning around a 5% return and, with the new program, might see that tick up a tiny bit.

 

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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. I think it will actually be hard for leisure travellers to reach the $1500 threshold, given Porter’s frequent sales. As you say, taxes and fees make up a big chunk of Canadian airfares. I was a bit surprised myself when I logged in expecting $1500 to be doable and found that year to date I’m only at $660 after 11 one way trips.

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