Ravn CEO Rob McKinney said he doesn't know when the rewards program will switch to cryptocurrency, but he estimates it will be in late April.
Over the summer, Ravn Alaska launched an incentive program in which customers could earn credits to use toward purchases such as airline tickets or baggage fees. The credits were dubbed "FlyCoin."
The regional airline is now working to make FlyCoin redeemable for cash.
"It will be listed on cryptocurrency exchanges," Ravn Chief Operator Rob McKinney said. "You could then trade your FlyCoin for Bitcoin or Ethereum if you wanted to." Or we're working on partnerships with vendors of goods and services [so] you can use it as a form of payment directly with one of them, similar to how people use Apple Pay."
At the moment, each FlyCoin, or "Fly," is worth two cents. In addition, all domestic flights within Alaska earn seven cents per mile in Fly. These can be exchanged for things like flights or snacks, or they can be used to offset the airline's baggage fees.
However, McKinney believes that they will eventually be accepted by other carriers.
"We are in discussions with several other airlines around the world about making FlyCoin their loyalty rewards program, and then it will all be interchangeable with any of those airlines."
He is unsure when the rewards program will switch to cryptocurrency, but he believes it will be in late April.
Customers will be able to use FlyCoin to book Ravn flights in the same way they do now.
"If they're afraid of the cryptocurrency aspect of it or don't want to use it for any of that," McKinney explained, "they can use it just like it's always been and say, 'I want my free flight to St. Paul or to Unalaska, and I want to use my FlyCoin to do that,' and it'll work exactly the same."
And, for the time being, Ravn and Alaska Airlines are still working on finalizing their much-anticipated frequent flier agreement. The two airlines announced their agreement in August, but company representatives stated that customers would most likely not be able to use their Alaska Airlines miles to purchase Ravn flights until 2022.
However, neither airline's representatives have given a firm date for when the mileage sharing agreement will be reinstated. However, when flying with Ravn, passengers can still earn Alaska Airlines miles, which is a significant step toward making travel to remote Alaska communities more affordable.
"Guests are still earning miles, and the IT departments are still working on full integration so the two systems can exchange information," said Tim Thompson, an Alaska Airlines spokesperson.
Previously, Unalaskans relied on a codeshare agreement between the former RavnAir Group and Alaska Airlines. However, since a fatal plane crash at Unalaska's Tom Madsen Airport in October of 2019, the island has been without such an arrangement.
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