I recently traveled on my ASEAN Explorer trip, courtesy of the AirAsia ASEAN pass, through the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. I purchased 11 flights for the pass at $250, plus taxes and fees, getting the cheapest set of flights in over 20 years of travel (details coming soon). With the pass (of 10 or 20 credits), any flight of less than 2h within ASEAN countries was 1 credit (aprox. $12,50) and longer flights were 3 credits (or $37,50). While there were a lot of challenges (see my Top 10 Tips how to make the most out of the AirAsia ASEAN Pass), it was a great deal if you were flexible with dates and destinations. Now, it looks like that great deal is coming to a premature end: I just found out that AirAsia changed the pricing for domestic AirAsia Indonesia flights from 1 or 3 credits to 3 or 5 credits, drastically increasing the cost for domestic Indonesian flights!
You can see the details of the credits per flight required below. According to the footnote, these “floor prices” are required by the local aviation regulator: “Controlled floor price for Indonesia domestic flights are mandated by the prevailing local aviation regulation on the fares”
That’s a sudden and unexpected move, as I’m sure a lot of passes have already been sold. I have contacted AirAsia and the CEO of AA Indonesia, Sunu Widyatmoko, for comment and explanation. It’s unclear, whether this applies to previously sold passes or only new ones. I did a price check for a number of flights all over Indonesia over the next few months and in almost all cases, regular promo fares are now cheaper than buying the ASEAN pass. While I understand that AirAsia has to comply with local regulations, why the prices are now higher than promo prices is unclear to me (ok, probably because they only have two categories and the cash prices have more levels). That’s horrible – in addition to prepaying a number of flights and taking the risk of not being able to use them, you now pay more per flight!
Given the situation, I’d not recommend to purchase the ASEAN pass, if you are planning to fly a lot in Indonesia – you are much better off to buy individual tickets from the best carrier, AirAsia or their local competitors, like Lion Air. I have almost used up my ASEAN pass and got great value out of it – I will post the detailed numbers shortly. I will hold off on buying another pass, until the dust settles. I would not want to be stuck with a pass that is useless and/or expensive with no recourse…
My expectation from AirAsia would be:
- Fine-tune the prices to closely align with regulation and allow prices of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 credits, so at least the pass is not more expensive than regular fares
- Proactively inform exiting ASEAN pass holders – just sneaking this price increase in without notice is terrible business behavior
- Refund ASEAN pass buyers with plans to fly in Indonesia, as this is a “bait and switch”, if you purchased based on available deal and prices are increased afterwards
I have not heard back from AirAsia or the AA Indonesia CEO and will update this post with any feedback I will receive.