Flat-Rate Flying: Introducing Surf Air, the All-You-Can-Fly Airline

The flat-fee business model has worked for Netflix, so why not for air travel too?

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The flat-fee business model has worked for Netflix, so why not for air travel too?

That seems to be the thinking behind Surf Air, the members-only, fixed-rate aviation service based in Santa Monica, Calif. For $1,650 a month, travelers can fly as much as they please between select cities. As of right now, the service only runs up and down the California coast, serving the San Carlos airport in Silicon Valley and the Burbank airport in the Los Angeles area. According to the company website, on July 10 service will also extend to the Santa Barbara airport as well.

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“We have been compared to a country club with planes instead of golf courses,” Surf Air’s CEO Wade Eyerly told CNBC. The comparison seems apt, since country clubs often cater to the, er, upper echelons of society, and chances are, so will this company. For now, Surf Air seems positioned mostly to shuttle tech company elites up and down the Pacific coast. Of course, that could change when the service eventually expands to other markets across the U.S. According to the website, those plans are in the works, but there is no concrete timeline yet.

The service, which bills itself as the “future of flight,” officially launched last Wednesday with its first flight running from Burbank to San Carlos, the Los Angeles Times reports. Surf Air is expected to run four round-trip flights daily between the two hubs, operating small, eight-passenger aircraft, according to the Times.

As TIME noted last year, the all-you-can fly landscape is littered with failures. Larger airlines like JetBlue and Sun Country Airlines have tested out all-you-can-fly passes in the past. And let’s not forget American Airlines, which began selling an unlimited first-class pass in the early 1980s — a move that ended up costing the airline millions of dollars. But a larger airline trying out an all-you-can-fly package to keep a flagging business afloat is certainly different from a start-up basing its entire business model around the concept. So who knows? Maybe Surf Air really could be the future of flight — at least for wealthy Californians.

MORE: Airline Baggage Fees: On the Rise — Yet More Passengers Deem Them ‘Reasonable’

7 comments
FlyAirShare
FlyAirShare

The collaborative consumption model which we offer at FlyAirshare.com doesn't require a membership fee and isn't restricted to limited destinations.

KeithCable
KeithCable

There ARE country clubs with airplanes instead of golf courses... and for $1650 a month you can do a lot better than 3 cities in California.

CliveHohberger
CliveHohberger

~45 years ago Mohawk Airlines (Primarily upstate NY; now part of US Air) had a $35 weekend anywhere pass. My wife and I were in graduate school in Cleveland, and we used the passes regularly to visit my parents in Rochester NY. Syracuse was a hub for them where we changed planes, traveling CLE-SYR-ROC. One time we were the only passengers on SYR-ROC, and guess what... they left our luggage in Syracuse! We caught up with it on the way back.

But we loved the weekend pass concept, apparently it worked for Mohawk, as planes were no longer flying empty on weekends.

MIsaiasDasNeves
MIsaiasDasNeves like.author.displayName 1 Like

Funny how the photo attached to this story shows an Airbus 380, yet Surf Air flies an 8 passenger Pilatus PC-12 turboprop... far from an elite travelling experience...

Quacker
Quacker

Well, actually, the LA TImes reported Surf AIr was flying 8 passenger aircraft.  Someone here decided to change it to "aircrafts" for this story.  Even though "aircrafts" is used more frequently by non-native English speakers, it is not correct.

Flat-Free
Flat-Free

"The flat-free business model has worked for Netflix, so why not for air travel too?"

Flat-free huh?