NEW YORK (AP) — JetBlue is bringing back its popular All-You-Can-Jet pass, which allows anyone to travel to an unlimited number of cities over a one-month period.
It’s a chance for the airline to fill empty seats during what is traditionally the slowest time of the year and hopefully, for JetBlue, to create the same wide-ranging social buzz it generated last year when it launched the promotion for the first time.
And for consumers with wanderlust, stamina, $700, or better yet, a combination of all three, it’s a continual ticket to any destination in the U.S. and Caribbean for 30 days.
The pass is valid for flights between Sept. 7 and Oct. 6, the company announced Tuesday. There are two price tiers: an unlimited pass for $699 or a $499 pass that excludes travel on Fridays and Sundays.
Last year, the unlimited tickets cost $599 and they sold out fast.
The pass gave the 10-year-old airline a wave of publicity, with travelers documenting their journeys on Facebook and Twitter. Those could get tickets began setting up happy hours in far-flung cities just because they could, and other companies took advantage of the growing hubbub.
Hotels like the Hyatt and Ritz Carlton, which had struggled through the recession as business travel faded, offered discounts to draw the group in.
People used the pass for tours of the nation’s sports stadiums, music meccas, and even 30-day job-search blitzes.
One of those hoping to find work in a unique way last year was Matt McCall. The Alabama native couldn’t find a job in his then-hometown of Chicago, so the audit analyst forked over $599 for a JetBlue pass and took off.
He traveled to several cities but didn’t accomplish his journey’s goal of getting a new job. Still, he called the trip “the best 28-day, 19,000-mile, 14-state, 15-flight, $599 trip of my life.”
This year, McCall has a pass again, but his life is very different. Soon after last year’s travels he was asked to speak with other All-You-Can-Jet customers at JetBlue’s leadership summit in New York, where he was presented with a free pass for All-You-Can-Jet 2010.
He says he’ll spend a few weekends in the air, but nothing as crazy as what he attempted last time. The reason? He’s settled in a new city — Seattle — and he now works for Google.
While it makes sense that the promotion is rolled out during the travel doldrums wedged between the summer vacation and winter holiday seasons, it also comes a week later than it did in 2009.
Last week, JetBlue Airways was wrestling with the national spotlight focused on Steven Slater, its now-infamous flight attendant, who cursed out a passenger over a jet intercom and made a quick exit down the emergency slide with beer in hand.
There are a limited number of All-You-Can-Jet passes, and they can be booked online through Friday.
All travel must take place between Monday and Oct. 3, and passengers must book flights within three days of departure, or pay a $50 booking fee. There’s also a $50 fee for changes or cancellations within three days of travel.
Despite fees and a higher price for the unlimited package, this year’s pass is a better deal than the first time around, said George Hobica, founder of AirfareWatchdog.com.
In general, fares are higher this year.
Hobica points out that a single flight across the country is $100 more in some cases. He believes JetBlue will draw even more crowds this year because of the cheaper, $499 option.
Travelers must join JetBlue’s frequent flier program, TrueBlue, to participate. All participants earn a standard amount of frequent flier miles for buying the passes — 4,200 points for the purchase of the unlimited pass, or 3,000 points for the pass that’s valid five days a week. One-way flight awards start at 5,000 points.
The airline serves 61 cities with 650 daily flights.