$160 USD for up to 10 flights across Asia. Sounds pretty great right? As with anything too good to be true, the Air Asia ASEAN pass has more than a few catches. This doesn’t mean there aren’t savings to be had with the Air Asia ASEAN pass, it just means you have to be a bit cautious. That’s where I come.
While living in Chiang Mai my time was spent catching up on writing and doing freelance work. This left little room to plan the next phase of my trip. From the time crunch alone I decided on purchasing the Air Asia ASEAN pass. I figured this would be an easy way to travel for a month. Not completely so. Before I get into why here was my route:
- Chiang Mai –> Bangkok
- Bangkok –> Mandalay
- Mandalay –> Bangkok
- Bangkok –> Krabi
- Krabi –> Kuala Lumpur
- Kuala Lumpur –> Singapore
- Singapore –> Bali
Not bad for $160 USD right? Guess again.
Where is the Savings?
The Air Asia ASEAN pass is broken down to credits. A $160 USD Air Asia ASEAN pass gets you 10 credits. A $290 USD ASEAN pass gets you 20. These are valid for 30 and 60 days respectively – beginning from the date of your first flight. Short flights are typically 1 credit and go up from there.
Credit wise, my route look liked this:
- Chiang Mai –> Bangkok – 1 CREDIT
- Bangkok –> Mandalay- 1 CREDIT
- Mandalay –> Bangkok- 1 CREDIT
- Bangkok –> Krabi- 1 CREDIT
- Krabi –> Kuala Lumpur- 1 CREDIT
- Kuala Lumpur –> Singapore- 1 CREDIT
- Singapore –> Bali- 3 CREDITS
Total Air Asia ASEAN pass credits = 9
Optically this Air Asia ASEAN pass looks like a steal however, flights on this airline are already ridiculously cheap. If I would have booked my route individually it would’ve looked something like this:
- Chiang Mai –> Bangkok ~$30
- Bangkok –> Mandalay ~$23
- Mandalay –> Bangkok ~$23
- Bangkok –> Krabi ~$16
- Krabi –> Kuala Lumpur ~$31
- Kuala Lumpur –> Singapore ~$17
- Singapore –> Bali ~$60
Total cost not using Air Asia ASEAN pass = $200
And these prices are before any seat sale or promotion.
Still, you can see there is some savings to be had with Air Asia’s ASEAN pass, however, there are plenty of catches.
Love surprises? The Air Asia ASEAN pass has them in spades. First, you need to book your flights 14 days in advance. This isn’t terrible but definitely takes the spontaneity and freedom out of it– something a pass should allow. Second, the Air Asia ASEAN pass can only be used on the lowest (and cheapest) tier of seats. These, obviously, sellout first which means your dates may not be available. In my case this meant altering my dates and having to pay for my flight to Singapore as the dates I wanted were sold out. There goes any savings I had.
Again, a flight pass should equal freedom.
Lastly in my gripe with the Air Asia ASEAN pass – it is not the most convenient when it comes to booking. I bought 2 passes (both in my name) and assigned one to my travel partner. This, for some reason, meant I had to book each flight for each person separately. This was very annoying – especially with booking 8 legs. This meant 16 individual flights, 16 forms to fill out, 16 insurance boxes to decline, and 16 bags to pay for…which brings me to my next point:
Nickel and Dime
Like any discount Airline, Air Asia charges you for plenty of extras. This includes bags, seats selecting, checking in, and taxes. In almost all cases, taxes and fees are more than your actual flight cost. This isn’t something specific to the Air Asia ASEAN pass but something to keep in mind.
So is the Air Asia ASEAN Pass Worth it?
For me, no. I found it too restrictive and too time-consuming when I felt it should be the exact opposite. After taxes, fees, and having to pay for one leg out of pocket my savings were null. This doesn’t mean there aren’t savings to be had. If you plan your route well in advance (more than 14 days apparently) and use all your credits (I was only able to use eight out of 10) you can save. Not bad, but not great.
But thus these types of things rarely are.