Now, that I’ve completed my ASEAN Explorer trip, courtesy of the AirAsia ASEAN Pass+, I want to share the numbers – costs of flights, fees, taxes and add-ons, and compare it to what it would have cost me otherwise. How much did I actually save and was it all worth it? In short – it was! I had a great trip, full of amazing experiences and thanks to the ASEAN Pass, the air travel was cheap, no – really, really cheap!
My trip touched four countries in four weeks and included 11 flights (8 international and 3 domestic) with a total distance of 6,541 miles flown and an approximate flight time of 17 hours. That’s a lot of flying, yet it only cost me a total of $360, including fare, taxes, fees and add-ons – that’s only $33 per flight! Being able to see so many places for so little money is what makes the ASEAN Pass such a great tool!
One comment I read a lot is that AirAsia has a lot of promotional fares and there are other cheap airlines in ASEAN, so it’s not worth buying the pass! I found that to be not true. I researched alternatives for every flight and to my surprise, AirAsia’s regular fares were the cheapest alternative in every single case! But in total, they would have been 50% more than buying the ASEAN Pass (base fares only). That’s a great saving off the already lowest prices in the market and, contrary to a lot of nay-sayers, the ASEAN Pass can be a great deal!
Some skeptics of the pass warned about taxes and fees – and it’s true, a full ⅓ of the total air cost is taxes and fees, mostly airport departure taxes. But considering the low amount per flight, it’s still a bargain overall. Because I was traveling internationally a lot, it added to the bill. If you would pick 1 or two countries to visit, you can cut your cost even further! If you want to see how much you will have to pay before you buy the pass or book your trip, AirAsia has a handy tool on their web site, making it easy and transparent to understand all fees you have to pay (here).
The biggest factor in saving money with the ASEAN Pass is to travel with carry-on luggage only – you can read my Top 10 Packing Tips to make that possible! A check-in luggage of up to 15kg would have added approx. $165 or almost 50% to the cost of air travel!
I also kept the cost low by only paying seat assignment fees 4 times – I checked in two weeks in advance for every flight and got pretty good (randomly assigned) seats on most flights. Whenever I got a middle seat or a window seat on a flight over 2h, I paid for an aisle seat forward.
If you want to dive into the numbers, you can see all the details below:
Overall, this was a great experience and in over 20 years of traveling, and flying more than 4 million miles in the process, I have never spent so little on so many flights! The AirAsia ASEAN Pass is a great tool to experience the 10 South East Asian countries on a budget and experience all the amazing places they have to offer – which is exactly what this pass is meant to do. While the pass certainly has it’s limitations, it has a lot of potential for anybody with flexibility in the timing and destinations and the willingness to put some effort into making the trip of a lifetime happen. If you are inspired to go, please check out my Top 10 Tips To Make the Most out of the AirAsia ASEAN Pass! With the cost of air travel minimized, you might ask how much hotels are in the ASEAN countries – great question – they are just as inexpensive! I spend an average of $30/night in cash and points-value, including some luxury hotels – check out my post ASEAN Explorer by the numbers – hotel cost to learn how I did that!