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OneGo is a new service that allows you to book unlimited flights for a monthly subscription fee. TPG Associate Editor Emily McNutt signed up for the service and is going to be testing it out during the next month to see if it really is too good to be true.
If you’re interested in flying, you might have heard of the new startup, OneGo. If you haven’t, I’ll fill you in. The concept itself is pretty simple — for a monthly subscription fee, you can book “unlimited” flights — the CEO describes it as Netflix for air travel.
When we heard about this, our collective reaction was that it sounded too good to be true — I mean, an app that allows you to travel unlimited flights sounds like something every traveler dreams of. Even TPG himself was considering the subscription — until he found out it only included tickets in coach, and TPG doesn’t fly coach. So, that’s where I come in.
I volunteered to test out this service so you don’t have to spend your time and money doing the same. After just a few hours spent researching and planning, I’ve come to the preliminary conclusion that this is a terrible deal and I haven’t even flown yet — mostly because its “unlimited flying” tagline is entirely false. Reading the fine print, not only are you allowed to have just four nonstop flights booked at the same time, but you also have to book all travel at least seven days in advance — meaning you can only book four nonstop flights per week. In addition, if you don’t use all four segments each week of your subscription, you’re almost certainly not getting the most of this service.
Again, because this is a new product and it’s been creating a lot of buzz, we wanted to test it out so you don’t have to. But before I even take off on this one-month journey, I’m going to do the best I can to maximize the value. Unless you have an extremely flexible schedule and are able to fly a lot, there’s no way this is a good deal for the average flyer. That being said, I’m going to briefly break down the process and share some thoughts on how my experience has been thus far.
How does it work? Well, part of what makes OneGo sound too good to be true is the program’s marketing — “unlimited” flying isn’t entirely accurate. There are four packages to choose from — Nationwide (76 airports for $2,950 per month), West (14 airports for $1,500 per month), Central (18 airports for $1,950 per month) and East (39 airports for $2,300 per month).
With each package, there’s an additional one-time account setup fee of $495. When we called OneGo, the representative said that if you cancel your subscription and then choose to start it back up, you have to pay the $495 “one-time account setup fee” again — pretty misleading.
I chose the East region package, which extends as far west as Kansas City and Des Moines for a total of $2,795 ($2,300 + $495), paid for with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. As of this writing, the payment hasn’t processed with Chase yet, so it’s not clear if it will come up as a travel purchase, which will earn 2x points.
Where the “unlimited booking” is misleading is with how much you can book. Unfortunately you’re limited in the number of flights you can actually have booked at one time. You have to book all flights seven days in advance and can only have four nonstop flights scheduled at any one time. Meaning you can only book four nonstop flights a week — not exactly “unlimited.”
Also, with each month, you essentially lose a week of potential travel because you have to book flights seven days in advance. When I contacted OneGo about how it would work if I were to continue my subscription and if I would get an additional four segments for the last week of my first month to book into the renewal month, I was told that I would only be allowed to use the four from the previous week. So, essentially the first week of every month is unbookable if you plan to use all four segments every week.
To OneGo’s advantage, the app is aesthetically pleasing and extremely easy to use. You get to select any flight as long as there is a seat in discount economy available with Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines or Virgin America. You can also set up your frequent flyer accounts within the app so you earn miles on all flights booked — just as if you were booking it on the airline’s website. However, keep in mind that all flights are booked in discount economy classes.
Effectively maximizing the app requires a lot of planning, so much so that the average traveler going on trips for personal or business reasons wouldn’t be able to maximize for the full cost of the monthly subscription. If you don’t expect to use all four segments each week of your subscription, this is not for you. With a maximum of 16 flights possible per month if you fly on the same day(s) every week, and for a monthly subscription of $2,300 for the package I chose plus the $495 start-up fee, each flight you take would need to cost more than $175 to get full value from OneGo. Knowing that I have the flexibility in my schedule to travel as much as the app will allow me to, I really want to push it as far as possible. So, I’m booking travel that most people wouldn’t normally consider — such as meeting a friend for lunch in St. Louis on my way to Miami.
In addition, because I knew I was going to be flying a lot for the next month, I figured that I would sign up for an American Airlines status challenge because it’s an easy way to gain status. I signed up for the Platinum challenge — if I earn 12,500 EQMs in 90 days, I’ll earn Platinum status with AA for a $200 fee. However, there is also a Gold option (7,000 EQMs in 90 days for $120). When I called to enroll, the representative told me that even if I don’t meet the Platinum qualifications, which is worth $2,840 based on TPG contributor Nick Ewen’s valuation of AA elite status for 2016, I would still be eligible for Gold status, which is worth $1,155.
As of right now, I have my first four flights booked with AA. I’ll be traveling from New York to St. Louis, St. Louis to Miami, Miami to Chicago O’Hare and Chicago O’Hare back to New York. If booked individually, the four one-way flights would have cost me about $948. In addition to nearly $1,000 in cash value, the four flights will earn me 3,887 EQMs — more than halfway to Gold for my AA status challenge. For the one night I’m planning to stay in Miami, I’ll be booking a hotel through Hotel Tonight, a great option for booking last-minute hotel stays — you can earn a $25 credit by using the promo code BKELLY99 at time of purchase.
I’ll also be able to maximize my time when traveling through my Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard. In December, when Citi announced that authorized users could now access the Admirals Club, TPG added the team as authorized users on his account. I’ll be following former TPG intern Kevin Song’s lead in exploring Admirals Clubs in the East region.
Although OneGo is a terrible deal and I know that right from the start, I’m excited to see what it’s all about by actually doing it. It’s been covered pretty extensively, but I’m interested to see what bumps, if any, I come across along the way. There will be plenty of TPG OneGo coverage to look out for during the next month, so stay tuned!
Do you have any recommendations for best maximizing the OneGo subscription or questions I can try to answer along the way?