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Star Alliance Asia Airpass  
User currently offlineirelayer From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 1073 posts, RR: 2
Posted (7 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 820 times:

I am taking about a month off and touring Asia in Februrary/March, and I initially looked at the Star Alliance Asia Airpass:

http://www.staralliance.com/en/fares/airpasses/asia-airpass/#

which is a planning tool that gives you estimated airfare. The only stipulation is you have to fly into Asia on a Star Alliance carrier (they ask for your ticket number before they forward to the booking office to reserve the segments). So I booked DXB-BKK on Thai, got the ticket number and went ahead and submitted my itinerary (which was basically BKK-SIN-MNL-TPE-HND-HKG-BKK). The estimated airfare was ~$1930 US, which is a fantastic deal considering the airlines and the times/days. The way it works seems to be that they forward your itinerary to the airline you booked your travel into Asia on. So about a day later I got an e-mail from the Thai Contact Center in Bangkok, which contained a booking reference number and an Amadeus itinerary with reserved segments. It had a general comment at the end which told me to call any Star Alliance ticketing office within 4 days to book my tickets. It did not contain a price.

Initially I called Thai, but since I am in a different time zone than their US booking office, and they aren't open on weekends, I was unable to reach them at first. I didn't want to get a calling card (or Google Voice, or Skype) just so I could call Thailand (and possibly hit a language barrier), so I called United. The rep said that Lufthansa controls the Star Alliance stuff and I should call them. He couldn't even look up my itinerary. So I called Lufthansa, who told me they had no clue either.

In the meantime I input the same itinerary into booking engines and each one came up with a fare of 5k or more. I researched other options to see what the cost difference would be. I ended up planning it out on a combination of discount airlines (Tiger/AirAsia/Phillipines) and national carriers (EVA/ANA) and was able to save about 700 dollars over the "estimated" airfare I was given by the tool, and considering the cluelessness of everyone I had called so far and the tempting prices of the alternatives I had picked out, I went ahead and booked and figured that Thai would tell me the fare for the airpass would be in line with what I saw on Kayak. Total cost of my booked travel was ~$1250 all inclusive but I altered my dates to account for a red eye segment which lets me save on one night of hotel so factoring that in as well I saved a bit more.

I finally got around to calling Thai reservations in LA today. They were finally able to look up my booking ref, but The first person didn't know what I was talking about, and transferred me to another person. She put me on hold for about 10 minutes and then came back and quoted me a fair that was almost exactly the "estimated" fare from the planner tool ~$1960, but she caveated that with "approximately" which confused me even more. Were they really going to charge me only $2k for a ticket that priced out at over $5k on travel websites? That's a 60% discount! Granted it is a "pass" and it is based on the number of coupons, but it seems like the airlines wouldn't want to give such an enormous discount even with the stipulation that you had to be flying in from another region. She said that indeed if I gave her my CC info she could book it with the price quoted. Since I had already booked my tickets by other means, I told her to cancel the whole thing, but I am having some buyers remorse here and wanted to ask anyone that is experienced in this area some questions:

1) Am I alone in being confused by this process? Shouldn't they at least be able to tell me where to call? Maybe I was ignorant in not contacting Thai directly in Thailand, but the (800) number of a Star Alliance carrier should be able to help me at any time of the day.

2) Why don't they include pricing information once they build the itinerary? Is it because the air pass price is fairly stable in price? Or is it because they don't know the pricing. Should I just call the airline directly next time?

3) Does the quoted price make sense? Would I really have been able to buy it for that price? I ask this because I am Star Alliance Gold and I wanted to use their air pass to get miles and for the upgrade opportunities and the full service (meal/drinks).

4) I saved about ~$700 dollars but I am missing out on the opportunity to fly on some interesting airlines and won't be getting all of the miles/segments benefits and possibly not be Star Alliance Gold next year. In the end did I maximize my value? Should I have gone with the Airpass since it was such a great deal?

Thanks guys!

-IR

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