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Frontier’s new deal covers unlimited flights and stays. What’s the catch?

by Staff

Frontier Airlines has partnered with a flexible apartment leasing company to combine unlimited stays with its all-you-can-fly package.

The Nomad Pass, which launched Thursday, combines the low-cost carrier’s Go Wild! deal with furnished rentals managed by Landing.

The new pass costs $1,495 per month and includes unlimited flights on Frontier and lodging at any of Landing’s roughly 20,000 units in more than 375 U.S. cities. Landing said it will initially release 1,000 passes. The subscription does not cover an additional $150 cleaning fee per stay.

“It’s a really great marriage, because we have an offer that allows people to pay one rate and stay anywhere in our network, and Frontier is the only airline with an unlimited pass,” said Bill Smith, the founder and chief executive of Landing. “You get to stay anywhere in the network and travel anywhere that has availability on Frontier.”

Travelers purchase the pass and book their accommodations on Landing’s website. They must still reserve their flights through Frontier. Go Wild! holders cannot tack on the lodging deal to an existing pass, but they can sign up once their subscription expires.

When The Washington Post tested the GoWild! pass, we found we were at a disadvantage because Frontier has limited routes from Washington-area airports. In Denver, however, we had more options and could more easily fly on a whim.

Spontaneity cost us, though. The extra fees added up, and because travelers must book their domestic flights within a 24-hour window, we had to take any hotel room we could find at the last minute. The new pass gives travelers more wiggle room.

“You can plan the apartment for up to a month in advance,” Smith said, “but the flight still has all the normal pass rules.”

Pass holders can choose from a variety of apartment types, such as studios and one- to three-bedrooms. At the bare minimum, the accommodations have a full kitchen with cookware and dishes, stainless-steel appliances, a Keurig coffee machine, a workspace and a washer and dryer. The rate includes WiFi and utilities.

For the flight segment, pass holders must still pay for extras beyond the base fare, such as carry-on and checked bags, seat selection and onboard snacks and drinks.

Landing’s apartments are in residential buildings and modern housing developments with long-term tenants. Guests have access to the property’s amenities and can participate in social events sponsored by the building. For example, at Novel South Capitol, a luxury complex in Washington D.C.’s Navy Yard neighborhood, pass holders can use the seasonal pool, rooftop grills, swanky lounge areas and fitness centers. They can also attend the upcoming Valentine’s Day soiree and Mahjongg night.

Landing has two membership tiers, Standard and Standby. Nomad Pass holders belong to the latter group, which is also lower in the pecking order. Standard guests pay full price for a rental, which averages $150 to $200 a night. Standby members pay a flat monthly rate. They can book any accommodation for any length of time within the month. However, if a Standard member chooses the same apartment, the company will “bump” the Standby guest and rehouse them for no additional charge. Some travelers might enjoy the change of scenery; others might loathe the idea of moving to another property, neighborhood or even state.

Smith said Landing’s rental network overlaps with Frontier’s route map. Denver, Atlanta and Austin are big markets for both companies, he added. However, not all cities that Frontier serves are chummy with short-term renters.

Lisa Wanjiku, an area general manager with Landing, said pass holders might run into obstacles in destinations with strict short-term rental laws. In many circumstances, Washington, D.C., and New York City require a minimum stay of 30 days, roughly the length of the pass.

Smith agrees that the pass is better for digital nomads than weekend warriors.

I think it’s less of a product for somebody who wants something for a night,” he said. “Usually the person is, at a minimum, staying for two to three weeks to a month.”

Chekitan Dev, a professor of hospitality and tourism at Cornell University’s Nolan School of Hotel Administration, said the pass is ideal for people who need a furnished apartment for an extended stay in Frontier’s destinations. They will need to book many nights to break even. Smith said 10 was the magic number.

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