≡ Menu

The AirAsia Asean Pass: Limited Routes, Payment Problems & more…

Asean_Pass_Problems

Part 1: About the pass

(skip to Part 2 part if you have the pass and are having problems)

For our upcoming trip to SE Asia in May, Rose and I decided to go for AirAsia’s new ASEAN pass. This pass allows travel between all the ASEAN member nations (Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Philippines). There are two types of passes. The first costs US$160 for 10 credits redeemable in a 30 day window. The second, costing US$290 allows for 20 credits used over a 60 day period. Flights cost either 1 or 3 credits. Generally, flights of 2 hours or less are 1 credit each way. Other flights that are longer distances cost 3 credits (e.g. Kuala Lumpur to Yangon). Here is a link to a chart with cost in credits for all available flights with the ASEAN pass. NOTE: As of this post not all flights are available with the ASEAN pass! I will discuss this in detail in Part 2.

The passes only cover the cost of the base fare and do not cover airport fees and taxes, so it took a bit of calculation to figure out if the ASEAN pass was right for us. In order to determine if it was a good deal, I added up the total costs of the flights I would need to take WITHOUT the ASEAN pass. I recorded the total costs as well as the taxes and fees for each flight. (see screenshot below)

Asean_Pass_Calculator

Click here to download the spreadsheet I used to calculate these costs. 

Because the cost of the ASEAN pass ($160) plus the taxes and fees total ($70.94) was less than the cost of all flights without the pass ($230.94 vs $304.61), we decided to go with the pass. Another thing to consider is that the cost of the flights tend to increase as the time of the flight draws nearer. The ASEAN pass is not affected by these fluctuations in price because you simply use the credit system.

A few other things to keep in mind before you make the plunge and buy these passes

  • NOT ALL FLIGHTS WILL BE AVAILABLE (AS OF THE TIME OF THIS WRITING) – Rose and I are basically having to replan our trip to SE Asia because of the availability of the routes on this pass
  • Credits can only be used in a 30/60 day window that begins after the departure of your first flight booked with the pass
  • Credits can only be redeemed 14 days or more before the departure date of the flight (i.e. no last-minute flights with the ASEAN pass)
  • Does not include baggage charges (AirAsia charges for all checked luggage – I’d recommend packing light and not checking any luggage)
  • Each route can only be redeemed ONCE (i.e you can’t fly KUL to SGN, SGN to KUL, and then KUL to SGN again – no repeat routes with this pass)
  • Must be 12 years or older to use the ASEAN pass

So the AirAsia ASEAN pass can save you some money if you are flying around a lot in this region. But is it worth the trouble?Next, I’ll cover some of the trouble we’ve had so far with these passes, and how to resolve some of them.

Part 2: Problems with the AirAsia ASEAN pass

(Note: We understand this is a difficult time and we send our condolences to the families of the victims of the recent crash. We do not feel this precludes AirAsia from criticism of what we believe to be a seemingly rushed, sub-standard product. We have flown AirAsia many times before and consider ourselves loyal customers. This is why we feel upset with the quality of the ASEAN pass program)

1) Payment Problems

Once we had gotten our ASEAN passes, we were really excited to start redeeming our credits. We were able to purchase the ASEAN passes just fine using a Visa card from here in the United States. However, when the time came to pay for the taxes and fees associated with each ticket, our payments were repeatedly unsuccessful.

aseanpassfailure

We tried multiple credit cards to attempt the purchase, including the card which we used to purchase the ASEAN passes in the first place. We contacted our banks to ensure that they were not cancelling the transaction, but the banks assured us that no transaction was coming through.

We contacted customer service (more on that below) and they were no help at all.

Here’s how Rose finally fixed the problem:

I had entered my Bigshot ID number into both her pass and mine when I signed up for them. This allowed only my pass to work when attempting to redeem credits. Once Rose deleted the Bigshot ID number out of her pass, she was able to redeem her credits as well.

2) Limited Routes and flight times

AirAsia does not allow you to check which flights are available with the pass until after you purchase it. I didn’t think much about this, I naively figured that all the flights I could search for on the main AirAsia page would be up for grabs. Not so.

We had planned a nice trip to Palawan in the Philippines, but there were no flights from Kuala Lumpur to Manila in all of April and May! This seemed really ridiculous as KL is AirAsia’s hub and Manila is a pretty major city. Needless to say, there were no flights from Manila to Palawan either. I felt scammed.

I tweeted @AskAirAsia and asked why there were no flight from KL to Manila. Somewhat miraculously, the next day that route had been added. However, there was only one flight time, which was at 7:30 AM. This time is less than ideal for our itinerary (and our sleep). What’s really frustrating is that on AirAsia’s main site there are five different flights on that day at various times of the day.

They made me feel second-class as an ASEAN pass holder because I couldn’t access those flights.

If your route is unavailable, try tweeting @AskAirAsia.

Asean_Pass_Tweet

3) Customer Service

So it was time to contact AirAsia’s customer support. We first tried the live chat option. The first try we waited and waited and then gave up because it was taking too long. We tried later and were more patient, watching our number in the queue slowly come up. Finally we spoke with a representative. We explained the problem and were told that we needed to submit an e-form with a screenshot of the page where it says the payment is unsuccessful. We submitted an e-form explaining the issue and received an automated email message stating that:

“Our Customer Care team is now looking into the issue. We will provide a more substantive response to your problem and an appropriate resolution within 14 days. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us”

14 days?! Holy crap, we wanted to be done booking our hotels by that time! We received another email message two days later:

“Thank you for writing to AirAsia. In response to your email, kindly retry to perform another booking for Asean pass. If you still facing the same issue kindly furnish us with screenshot for further investigation.”

Wow. I hadn’t thought to just retry. So I retried and whattyaknow.. still didn’t work. SO I sent another screenshot of the error screen.

A day or two later (while waiting for a response from the other e-form) Rose randomly tried to buy a ticket from her work computer. And it worked (this is because she bought the ticket on my pass). So now I had a ticket from Saigon to Kuala Lumpur but Rose couldn’t get hers. We had redeemed 1 of our credits and needed to redeem 19 more total. This was going to be a nightmare!

The night after we were able to redeem our 1 flight, I received another email message regarding my e-form:

“In regard to your email, please kindly be informed that you proceed to https://aseanpass.airasia.com/ to check on the status of your AirAsia Asean Pass. However, you must log in to your member account before proceeding with the website. Should you need any further assistance, please submit online form (http://www.airasia.com/my/en/e-form.page). For simple inquiry, please feel free to check our AskAirAsia portal at (http://www.airasia.com/ask/) or follow us at our Twitter account, or approach our Live Chat service available from 0800 to 2000hours (GMT+8). Thank you for choosing AirAsia. Have a nice day!”

So basically, they sent me a link to the login page and reminded me I needed to log in before attempting to redeem my credits. I was pissed. Eventually, Rose figured the problem out, not these guys.

Stay tuned… updates to come!

We will be updating this blog post based on the resolution to these issues. We are keeping our fingers crossed for flights to Palawan from Manila with the ASEAN pass. Good luck on your travels!

Click here to sign up for updates from us here at Your Travel Path

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Tony

    Hi, my wife purchased two passes under her account, one of them has her name and one has my name. She was able to book all flights on her pass, but we keep getting the unsuccessful payment on my pass. How do I change the ownership of the pass or transfer it to my own bigshot account? Any input would be helpful. We’ve tried everything. – Tony

    • Jason Umino

      My wife and I are in the exact same situation. She’s booked on a flight, and I can’t book mine. Heading to the AirAsia office in Bali, Indonesia in about an hour…This is getting ridiculous!

      • On the page where you view the passes that you have purchased (https://aseanpass.airasia.com/
        you should be able to edit the passes. Delete any numbers you have
        entered there. If you entered the same Bigshot ID for both passes, only
        one will be able to be redeemed.

        I hope this works for you Jason, good luck!

    • Jason Umino

      Turns out that both the sales center and live chat operators cannot help. The online request form takes up to 5 days (unacceptable for us since we’re needing to travel in 2.5 weeks and you need to book 14 days in advance. Decided to request a refund and also go through my credit card company to dispute it. Love AirAsia, but unfortunately this ASEAN Pass system is a big fail.

      • I agree Jason, the customer service is very poor. I received responses days later after not being able to redeem my pass that told me to log in and try again. That was very infuriating. I am interested to know if AirAsia issued you a refund.

        I agree, I consider myself a loyal customer of AirAsia for years now, but I cannot recommend or endorse the ASEAN pass.

    • Hi Tony sorry for the late response. On the page where you view the passes that you have purchased (https://aseanpass.airasia.com/
      you should be able to edit the passes. Delete any numbers you have
      entered there. If you entered the same Bigshot ID for both passes, only
      one will be able to be redeemed. I hope this helps, this is what solved the problem for Rose and I. Good luck and safe travels!

  • disqus2233

    Do not buy this pass because as of right now, 2015 march 31, this is a
    complete rip off. They do not have any availability for weeks on some
    routes despite having 6 daily flights. They force us to completely
    backtrack, stay longer at places we don’t want, buy additional tickets
    for routes the pass is supposed to cover, and to revise our plans
    because they do not make flights available. Air Asia should be ashamed
    of itself for this dirty trick and rip off. I am in the process of
    contacting Air Asia and authorities about this and will update if the
    situation changes. But right now I strongly recommend not to buy.

    • I agree with you. I feel that the ASEAN pass program was rolled out before it was ready. You feel like a second-class customer with the ASEAN pass because of the lack of available flights for the pass when there are multiple flights for the same route on the main AirAsia site. The customer service is poor as well.

    • disqus14

      Can you tell me which routes you tried and for which dates? I am planning to go in August. Are the routes full also if I try to book like 4-5 months in advance?

  • min

    i’m having the same troubles. passes were bought under my account. only mine can be redemeed. i haven’t been able to redeem my partners pass, but it says its activated. i dont know how to change remove her big shot id off the pass or anything else. very limited on solutions. i wish we didn’t go through with this.

    • Hi min,
      On the page where you view the passes that you have purchased (https://aseanpass.airasia.com/) you should be able to edit the passes. Delete any numbers you have entered there. If you entered the same Bigshot ID for both passes, only one will be able to be redeemed. This solved the problem for Rose and I. I really hope this solves it for you!

      I agree, if I would have known how much trouble this ASEAN pass would be I would not have purchased it. Rose and I had to replan our trip and completely skip the Philippines because of the limited route availability.

      Good luck and safe travels in SE Asia! 🙂

    • disqus14

      Can I ask you how far in advance you booked the flights?

  • chapTB

    Hi guys, 3 of my friends and me are planning a trip to Malaysia, Bangkok & Bali for 2 weeks in August, 2015. We are considering to buy the pass, but reading your comments we got a bit disappointed. Do you guys think we still could find available tickets for four of us in particular dates when we’ve planned to travel? The whole trip supposed to be strict on a low budget and dont wanna waste any money. So the question would be ‘Are we in time now (mid-April) for booking our flights for August?’.Thanks in advance!

  • Jusing Krimmel

    Dear Chap TB and all,

    If you guys are looking for low fares with the ASEAN Pass forget it, you are better off to book Air Asia discounts than buying an ASEAN Pass.

    Let me tell you my story. In June to August of this year my family and I are going from LAX to Singapore to Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia on the island of Borneo. On the 12th, now changed to the 13th of July, we will go from Kuching to Bali returning on the 18th. I will also be traveling to KL later in August before returning from Singapore to LAX. So I thought, like you, I would save some money and bought two ASEAN passes for 20 points which ran me around $590 U.S. I booked my flight from Singapore to Kuching on the 28th of June with no problems except I ended up paying around 100 MYR in fees once I paid for two extra bags, the airport fees (not included in the ASEAN Pass), and two premium seats. Hunky-dory–right?

    Just today, I tried to buy from Kuching to Bali and back. Well, the site would not let me buy from Kuching to Bali so I first tried from Singapore to Bali, thinking to buy the Kuching to Singapore leg next. But on the 12th, when I tried to redeem points on the pass, the site said: “Hold on, no seat availability.” So, I tried going a day later on the 13th and got the same response. I then tried Kuala Lumpur to Bali on the 12th, same response. Finally, I was able to redeem two tickets leaving KL at 8:30 on the 13 and arriving in Bali at 11:30, and returning on the 18th. A little less hunky dory.

    However, I still had to purchase tickets from Kuching to KL going on the 13th and returning
    on the 18th. However, this time I was locked into going to Bali on the 13th and returning from Bali through KL to Kuching on the 18th. No matter what I tried, it kept coming up with the same “no availability” message. So I called the nearest Air Asia office in Australia which I figured would be the most likely to be understanding. The Air Asia Rep. (from a South Asian country) informed me that these passes could only be used within 14 days of the flight take-off. Note that when I bought the pass I clearly understood that it was “up to” not “less than” 14 days. So I asked the South Asian person why I was able to book KL to Bali and back if things were as she said. She had no response, and when I asked to talk to her supervisor, she said that that person was “too busy” to talk to me. I should try the “Chat” option on the website.

    Before I did that, however, I found out by checking the Air Asia regular search engine that as of today (5/15/15) there are at least two flights still with plenty of seating going from Kuching to KL on the 13th and at least 5 wide open flights returning from KL to Kuching on the 18th.

    I had to wait for forty minutes to “chat” online with another South Asian, Air Asia rep. The gist of our conversation was that “no available seats” means that it is a high demand travel date (in this case the end of Ramadan is the 18th) and that those seats are being reserved for those willing to pay the higher fares. He didn’t say the last part, but it does not take a genius to read between the lines. I asked him if he would be so kind as to refund the balance that I would not be able to use of my Air Asia Pass. “So kind”–not even close.
    He simply said “no refunds” are possible. When I then insisted that he book my flight, he advised me to file a complaint form, and told me that my allotted time with him was about up. I rated our interaction as “bad and damaging to the reputation of Air Asia.”

    In the end I had two buy two tickets at the regular fare (without use of the ASEAN Pass) because Air Asia, after all is said and done, is still cheaper than the other options. Very un-hunky dory.

    I intend to do everything in my power to: 1) make sure this does not happen to anyone else; and 2) protest, in any way possible, this rip-off.

    UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES BUY AN ASEAN PASS

    Steve Krimmel