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Late last year Air Asia announced that they’d be releasing a flight pass for the Asean group of nations in early January. There was a delay of a month, which is understandable given the press Air Asia has been having but finally it has been released! Hoorayyyy! Unlimited flights for 150 bucks! Wait, no, huh? Oh darn.
The original announcement bounced around the various media outlets as a magical $150 pass, but thanks to the world’s lovely economy, exchange rates now push that up to $180 Aussie dollars. Also, the original round of announcements bandied about the term ‘unlimited’, which isn’t the case either. You are allocated credits that don’t always cover the trips that you wish to take.
So how much exactly is the pass?
There are two passes available, the standard pass which gives you 10 credits for MYR 499 and the plus pass which gives you 20 credits for a discounted MYR 888 ($320).
Credits? What are these credits you speak of?
The pass entitles you to a limited number of credits, not flights. Certain flights cost up to 3 credits each meaning if you’d like to bounce from one side of the region to the other, you’re not going to be able to do it more than once. For example, Bangkok to Bali is 3 credits. A return flight will take 6 credits, leaving you with 4. Don’t think about jumping on a jet plane and heading off to, say Kuala Lumpur after that because that’ll cost you another 3 credits, leaving you with 1 which won’t take you back to your lovely home of Bangkok.
Heck, Chiang Mai to Phuket is 3 credits. A return flight within a single country eats up more than half of the pass’ credits.
Another interesting limitation is that each route can only redeemed once meaning that if you’d like to bounce from city to city, you won’t be able to repeat that exact same trip twice on the same pass. So if you fly from Singapore to Penang, head back and then realise you left your laptop in the hotel, no using your credits to jump on a return trip.
Where can I fly with it?
All 10 of the Asean countries – Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Philippines.
How much will I be paying?
Aside from the initial cost of the pass, you’ll be required to pay extra for taxes, government fees, miscellaneous fees, check-in baggage, inflight meals, seats and travel insurance. How much is this extra? It varies between destinations, however as an example, a return flight with check-in luggage from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore would cost around $90 in fees covering the airport tax, airport fee, aviation levy, passenger service fee, passenger security fee and 20kg checked baggage fee for both ways. Add another $30 for insurance if you feel you need it and another $15 for in-flight meals for those peckish. That brings us to a total of $135 extra required for a single return trip (give or take, depending on the exchange rate).
Oh, don’t forget other things like visas, departure taxes as well as other things that people forget about like the cost of transport to and from the airport etc. This $180 pass could end up costing more than $500 depending where you go and the type of traveler you are.
Is the pass really worth it?
Will I personally buy the pass? Yes… Probably… Kinda… Maybe? I don’t know. As long as it fits into my plans, which means that I’d actually need to plan things out. The dream of just buying a pass that will allow me to bounce around the region for an unlimited number of times will stay a dream. There is also a restriction stating you can’t book flights for tomorrow – flights need to be redeemed at least 14 days before departure. Not a huge issue for most, but I’ve been known to just jump on a plane at a moment’s notice because I didn’t like the city I’m in. This pass won’t allow for that whatsoever.
As predicted, the restrictions lessen the usefulness of the pass to a point where you can only entertain the idea if it fits your specific plans. To a small number of people, this pass will be an amazing opportunity, to others, not so much. There will be a large percentage of pass holders who don’t use all 10/20 credits, which clearly Air Asia is hoping for. Given that flights with Air Asia are so cheap anyway, it might not be worth the fuss getting the pass in the first place.
What do you think? Does the pass interest you?
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