3 years ago, AirAsia introduced a unique travel pass known as the ASEAN Pass to make travelling in ASEAN much more convenient and affordable (than it already is). This guide will dissect all there is to know about ASEAN Pass from how it works to potential pitfalls to tips that will make your money worthwhile.
Background about ASEAN
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising ten Southeast Asian countries. Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam are part of the ASEAN body today. It is like a mini version of the Eurozone region, but it still packs a punch, especially culturally.
So, what is the AirAsia ASEAN Pass?
AirAsia offers you ASEAN Pass which is a unique travel pass to enable you to uncover the hidden treasures of the ASEAN region. It consists of a buffet of travel credits that you can use to travel within ASEAN for one price. Instead of having to compete against AirAsia’s ticket pricing algorithm to get the best price, ASEAN Pass lets you travel without having to worry about fluctuating fares.
How does ASEAN Pass work?
ASEAN Pass comes in two forms: ASEAN Pass and ASEAN Pass+.
|ASEAN Pass||ASEAN Pass +|
|Number of credits||10||20|
|Period of validity||30 days||60 days|
Each flight between ASEAN cities cost either 1 or 3 travel credits. We think that the travel credit depends on the distance between the two cities as well as the popularity of the city. For example, a flight between Bali and Singapore will cost 3 travel credits. A flight between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur will cost 1 travel credit.
With ASEAN Pass, you need to make an advance booking on your preferred travel route. A minimum of 14 days advance booking prior to your planned flight departure is necessary. Otherwise, AirAsia will not let you use your ASEAN Pass travel credits.
Note: Each ASEAN Pass is valid for 1 year from the date of purchase till the first flight that you book. Once you book your first flight, the ASEAN Pass is then valid 1 month (or 2) from that date.
Where can I travel to on ASEAN Pass?
Based on AirAsia’s website, you can travel to more than 70 ASEAN cities on the ASEAN Pass. There is a comprehensive list of ASEAN cities that you can travel to on the ASEAN Pass. The list also breaks down whether it cost 1 or 3 travel credits for the route.
1 travel credit routes on ASEAN Pass
3 travel credit routes on ASEAN Pass
You can also plan your trips here on AirAsia’s ASEAN Pass website.
Who should use the ASEAN Pass?
While Singapore is part of ASEAN, ASEAN isn’t exactly the first choice for Singaporeans when it comes to travel destinations. Yet, ASEAN offers such a diverse culture and abundance of UNESCO world heritage sites to enjoy.
With the ASEAN Pass, Singaporeans who have never stepped onto other ASEAN countries should take the chance to explore our neighbours. It gives you a unique opportunity to learn about our neighbours and immerse yourself in their culture.
Potential pitfalls when using ASEAN Pass
1. You CANNOT travel on the same route twice
This is such a potential major pitfall, and it’s so important that you don’t fall into it. The same flight route cannot be travelled twice within the same ASEAN Pass. E.g. KL -> Ho Chih Minh City can only be travelled once in the same ASEAN Pass. You cannot use the same route twice.
Based on our research, we found that Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok are major air travel hubs for AirAsia. They connect you to much more places than the rest of the ASEAN cities that AirAsia operates in. We think that this rule is to avoid letting AirAsia’s major flight routes be overcrowded with travellers using the ASEAN Pass.
One possible confusion that you might have is whether KL -> Ho Chih Minh City is the same as Ho Chih Minh City -> KL. No, it isn’t. Thus, you don’t have to worry that you will be stuck on another ASEAN city without a flight back to your home country.
2. You have to book 14 days in advance
This is another pitfall that can be easily missed if you are not careful. Ideally, such a buffet travel pass is meant to be more spontaneous in nature. However, in order to manage demand, AirAsia has stipulated that all flights need to be booked 14 days in advance. This also explains why flights to certain cities have limited seats.
We suggest that you book every flight route you can from the onset so that you secure your spot. You don’t want to be stuck in another city waiting for new spots to open up on your preferred route.
3. You still need to pay for taxes, airport fees and luggage fees even with ASEAN Pass
Since AirAsia is a budget airline, it is natural that add-ons are going to come in at a point in time. For ASEAN Pass, the add-ons come in the form of taxes, airport fees and luggage fees. The ASEAN Pass only provides you with travel credits for the flight. It doesn’t mean that you are exempted from taxes and airport fees. In addition, you will need to pay for your own check-in luggage if the 7kg carry-on isn’t enough for you. Oh, AirAsia comes with pretty strict restrictions on the 7kg carry-on luggage. Do check the size and weight because AirAsia staff are going to check them thoroughly. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Tips on using ASEAN Pass
1. Use KL or Bangkok only when necessary
Since Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok are major air travel hubs, one tip from us is to use them only when it is necessary. Since the same travel route can only be used once, don’t waste it by flying KL -> Bangkok. Instead, fly from Kuala Lumpur to another city (e.g. Phnom Penh) and then connect to Bangkok afterwards. This will not only help you to visit more places, but it also helps you to avoid being stuck with limited choices.
2. Some ASEAN cities offer limited routes
Given that ASEAN isn’t as well-connected as Europe, there are some cities where you can’t find connecting flights. For example, if you are planning to travel to Luang Prabang, you can only fly through two routes. It is either from Kuala Lumpur (3 travel credits) or Bangkok (1 travel credit). Luang Prabang is just one of the many cities with limited routes. Other cities include Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Da Nang, Hanoi, Nha Trang, Mandalay, Yangon, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.
3. Not sure where to go? Try AirAsia’s sample itineraries
As a human, we like choices. But when there are too many choices, we suffer from choice paralysis. If you are suffering from the paradox of choice, then you should definitely check out AirAsia’s sample itineraries for ASEAN Pass. From food trails, the magic of Malaysia, adventure junkies and diving mania, you are bound to find one that fits your kind of travel.
4. Earn points with ASEAN Pass using the right miles card
The ASEAN Pass is meant to stretch your travel dollars. What if there is a way to stretch it even further? Well, you can stretch it with the right miles card. Check out some of the best travel cards that can help you to earn miles while you enjoy the beauty of our neighbouring countries.
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