Buffet airfare: Surf Air launches “all-you-can-fly”

Courtesy Surf Air

Courtesy Surf Air

PRICING is the name of the game. The familiar “all-you-can-eat” restaurant menu has inspired a similar offering in airline ticketing. American carrier Surf Air has launched an “all-you-can-fly” menu where for a monthly fee, members – not passengers as commonly referred to – can fly an unlimited number of flights. For now, the destinations are limited to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Francisco in California, for travellers flying from Santa Monica where Sur Air is based.

Who are the likely customers? No doubt, at a monthly fee of US$1,650, it is a pricey proposition that can only appeal to the high-heeled who fall short of owning their own private jet. Surf Air CEO Wade Eyerly has likened his business to “a country club with planes instead of golf courses.” Of course, everybody gets a leather seat on the Pilatus PC-12 aircraft that boasts a “BMW-designed executive interior.”

Will there be adequate demand to sustain the operations? It makes sense if you make frequent and regular trips between Santa Monica and wherever Surf Air offers to take you – not differently from buying a book of cheap tickets at discounted fare, say, on Ryanair, when on the whole you still stand to benefit financially even if you do not use all the tickets. Instead of the country club analogy, the picture may change if you compare it to a time-share property where after the initial years of excitement, it degenerates into a tedious obligation.

There will always be, of course, the elite who can spare the dough to buy the privilege and prestige.

Come to think of it, “all-you-can-eat” and “all-you-can-fly” are not exactly the same. With one, you can almost be certain you will get your money worth of fill, but not quite with the other. But sometimes it is hard to define a good deal, as is said of beauty in the eye of the beholder. Mr Eyerly is confident that his model will work. He explained: “If you drive two to five hours regularly, you need a Surf Air membership. No need to waste valuable work (or play) time stuck in traffic or mile-long security lines. With all that extra time, you work on your golf game.”

Time, he said, is money. You can’t argue with that, except that not everyone plays golf!

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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