Flying is expensive.
So Airfordable is launching from Y Combinator’s Summer ’16 batch to let you book flights and pay over time before you take off.
Here’s how it works:
Travelers find their preferred flight online (using any travel site they want) and upload a screenshot with their flight details.
Once you are approved, the startup calculates a payment plan (up to 3 months) that starts with an upfront deposit and ends sometime before your flight takes off. And after your final payment Airfordable will email you a confirmed e-ticket for the trip.
One problem – for this convenience the startup charges a pretty lofty fee – anywhere from 10-20%, depending on demand, the date of travel, and ticket price. Assuming a 3-month repayment period, a 20 percent fee is essentially an insane 80% APR.
But thinking of the fee as an interest rate isn’t exactly the right way to do it – mainly because a service like Airfordable could mean the difference between someone being able to take a trip or not – turning it into a priceless service. Ama Marfo, co-founder of Airfordable, echoes this sentiment when she explained that “the fee is high for people that don’t understand the value”.
Plus, in return, the company doesn’t check your credit score, meaning customers with poor or no credit could potentially be approved for a layaway plan.
So far the service has been used by about 10,000 people with a 95 percent repayment rate. This rate may be so high because the entire balance needs to be paid before you take the trip, unlike a credit card or loan service like Affirm. The upside to this is that a traveler doesn’t have to be stuck paying for their trip months after they return from it.
If a traveler doesn’t pay before their trip, their flight is canceled. But, all payments that they made after the initial deposit are credited towards a future trip.
In the future, the company hopes to expand into layaway payments for vacation packages and hotels. They also are working on a custom travel search platform so users don’t have to upload their own travel screenshots.
They also are working towards finding a financial institution to back their layaway plans – as of now all flights are being purchased from the company’s operating funds.