Charging for Airfare by the Mile

Sun Country Airlines is introducing a new program that customers can join to pay for their flights by the mile, removing advance purchase requirements and other restrictions.

    Under the program, now in a quiet “soft launch” mode, there are no blackout dates or Saturday night stay restrictions. Fares are pretty much in line with those for 21-day advance purchases. But there are no advance purchase requirements for VIP tickets. Prices are the same even on the day of departure. And the fares include all taxes and fees, Sun Country says.

    VIP members must pay a $99 initiation fee and $12 monthly membership charge. At this time, VIP members can only buy tickets for themselves. But Mendota Heights-based Sun Country plans to soon offer a family VIP plan, which would cost $15 a month and permit the purchase of tickets for anyone in a member’s immediate family.

The airline doesn’t offer a frequent flyer plan, but this new program comes with some of the perks usually associated with elite status.

    The VIP program also provides expedited check-ins and discounts on everything from hotels and parking to dining and car rentals, said Sun Country president and CEO T. Jay Salmen.

    “We felt this would reward our frequent fliers but not have the administration and other overhead costs that the typical mileage program has,” he said. “And we tried to make this plan easy to understand. We could have said 7.5 cents to Denver and 10.75 cents to New York. But we know what we need to make per seat when we fly.”

Sun Country is based in Minneapolis and operates limited schedules to many of its 28 destinations. You can join the program here.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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