United Airlines has rolled out PassPlus, a new corporate travel programme for Asia that’s first being tried out in Hongkong.

Already in place in the US, the scheme has been designed to help corporations and SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises) get through the current economic crunch by offering the lowest available ticket prices and significant savings of up to 30 percent on published fares. In addition, PassPlus members also receive a range of exclusive benefits and amenities (subject to terms and conditions) to ensure a smooth journey.

“The downturn has made businessmen expect more value in their travel purchases,” observed Jake Cefolla, United’s managing director, Pacific South. Customer feedback, he added, has shown that business travellers found existing travel contracts “too complex, troublesome and cost inefficient”.

Cefolla said: “SMEs travel a lot, and they don’t always have the time or resources to manage a travel programme, and they want to see their return on investment upfront.”

PassPlus operates as a pre-paid travel plan or stored value card, from where funds in US dollars are deducted from the account when a ticket is bought. Reservations and ticketing are done through the customer’s designated travel agent, and activity monitored online and through balance reports.

United is offering the Hongkong business community two packages. Individual costs US$25,000 and includes United Red Carpet Club membership for one and Mileage Plus Premier status for one. Shared is classified into three types – the first is priced at US$50,000 to be enjoyed by 25 employees, with United Red Carpet Club membership for two, Mileage Plus Premier elite status for two and systemwide upgrades for two; the second is priced at US$100,000 to be enjoyed by 50 employees with United Red Carpet Club membership for 5, Mileage Plus Premier elite status for 10 and systemwide upgrades for four; and the third is priced at US$250,000 to be enjoyed by 125 employees with United Carpet Club membership for 12, Mileage Plus Premier elite status for 25 and systemwide upgrades for 10.

Validity of the plans is for one year, and any outstanding balance can be applied during the renewal process of any of the packages.

After Hongkong, PassPlus will be rolled out in Singapore and Vietnam.

For more details, visit www.unitedairlines.com.hk/passplus

Margie T Logarta