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Airvanuatu student, The Air Pass
By: Phil Guidry (justin) 2012.08.20

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Imagine being able to visit two dozen Asian cities in a single month - and doing it for a price comparable to a single round-trip ticket from California to Southeast Asia.  If your appetite for adventure is vast but your time and budget are short, you might want to consider buying an air pass.  One of the airline industry’s best-kept secrets, air passes allow you to visit as many destinations in a region as you can cram into a specified time period.

For example, the Malaysia Airlines AccessAsia Pass gives you access to as many as 24 Asian cities, ranging from favorites like Tokyo and Bangkok to exotic surprises like Dhaka and Karachi.  All your traveling must be done within a month of commencing your journey, and your first stop must be Malaysia Airlines’ hub city of Kuala Lumpur, but most visitors to K.L. will tell you that that’s hardly a drawback.

Cathay Pacific’s All Asia Pass offers a similarly impressive list of destinations, spanning 18 Asian cities like Singapore and Seoul within a three-week period.  You must fly through the Cathay hub of Hong Kong, and like the AccessAsia Pass, you are allowed to travel to any given city only once.

Asia is not the only region where you can go the air pass route.  Qantas offers an Australian air pass, while European carriers like Lufthansa offer similar passes for exploring Europe.  If you’re interested in island hopping, you might want to check out the Visit South Pacific Pass, which boasts routes offered by a number of local carriers, including Air Nauru, Air Vanuatu and Solomon Airlines.

These passes can be quite complex to book, so it’s best to go through a travel agent.  But considering that an air pass can save you thousands of dollars and untold scheduling hassles on the trip of a lifetime, the complexity of the pass is outweighed by its convenience. After all, you don’t want to spend more time booking your tickets than visiting your destinations.

—Phil Guidry

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