Airline ‘fare clubs’ offer regular travellers a standard discount

As ancillary fees for checked baggage, priority boarding, extra legroom seats, etcetera, become more commonplace in the airline industry, several airlines have been introducing branded/bundled fares and annual ancillary subscriptions as a next step. United Airlines, for example, offers unlimited checked baggage for USD349 a year, while airBaltic recently introduced a similar fee in partnership with luggage brand Samsonite. Another category are ‘fare clubs’, which for an annual fee, provide regular travellers with a standard discount or access to member-only fares.

Wizz Air ‘Xclusive Club’
Wizz Air, a low-cost airline from Poland that offers flights from several bases in Central and Eastern Europe, has recently launched a new membership program called Wizz Xclusive Club. For an annual fee of EUR 29.99, Wizz Xclusive Club members get exclusive access to a pool of tickets that can be cheaper by up to 10 EUR per one-way flight than regular prices. Up to 9 passengers can be booked together with the Xclusive Club member on the same reservation and benefit from the discounted fares. Wizz Air is the first airline in Europe to offer a ‘fare club’ and says that in the first two weeks following the rollout, almost 50 thousand customers signed up.

Spirit Airlines ‘$9 Fare Club’
Wizz Air seems to have been inspired by Florida-based low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines, which in 2008 launched its ‘$9 Fare Club’. Spirit guarantees a member-only sale, with ticket prices as low as a few dollars, at least once every six weeks, but usually offers at least one sale per week. The special fares are offered on a first come, first serve basis and travellers flying on the same ticket will receive the members-only fare as well. Annual membership of the $9 Fare Club costs USD59.95, but those who sign up for a Spirit-branded MasterCard also obtain a free membership to the $9 Fare Club.

Air New Zealand ‘Starfish Card’
Meanwhile in Asia-Pacific, Air New Zealand (ANZ) has answered demands for lower fares on regional routes by introducing a Starfish Card, which for a yearly fixed fee gives regular travellersa standard 15 (NZ$200 per year) or 30 percent (NZ$800 per year) discount on their ticket. The discounts apply for all regional airfares, including discounted tickets, but do not include flights between main domestic trunk routes, such as flights between Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, Christchurch and Queenstown.

According to ANZ, the 15-percent discount card provides value for money for regional customers, often small to medium businesses, who currently spend more than NZ$1,400 per year with the airline, while the 30 percent discount card provides a benefit for those who spend more than NZ$4,000 per year. Passengers using the Starfish Card also earn ANZ frequent flyer miles, based on the fare purchased, and can pay with their miles for discounted flights as well.

Related articles:
Air New Zealand goes single class on short-haul routes and radically rebundles fares
Next in radical unbundling: Spirit to charge for carry-on luggage
airBaltic to offer innovative ancillary fee for checked bags

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