American Airlines is building a new platform for its prepaid AirPass program and enticing potential enrollees with lower minimums. The promotion targets high-end leisure travelers and small businesses, but companies of all sizes use the program. While bulk buying a product doesn't seem like something people think about when they're barely using that product, the concept of prepaying airfares has some appeal in an uncertain pricing environment.

AirPass and United Airlines' similar PassPlus program use fixed pricing during one-year contract terms, essentially creating systemwide guaranteed fare structures. They require upfront investments and provide . . .

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