Monday, August 4, 2014

SkyTeam alliance launches Asia and Southwest Pacific pass

SkyTeam Alliance, the global airline alliance of which Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) and AeroMexico are the major North American members, has introduced a pass aimed at making travel around Asia and the Southwest Pacific more convenient and affordable.

The Go Round Asia and Southwest Pacific pass (…the “GRASP” pass?) was designed as a “mini round-the-world” ticket that offers cost savings on flights operated by SkyTeam member airlines serving the Asia and South Pacific regions, according to a July 30 news release announcing the new pass.

"[The] pass combines an exciting range of destinations with flexible, cost-effective travel thanks to our vast network throughout these regions," Mauro Oretti, SkyTeam's VP Sales and Marketing, said in the news release. "We've taken the Round the World concept and delivered it on a smaller scale to offer as many as 11 flights for customers wanting to travel extensively in this part of the world, whether for business or leisure."

Korean Air, a SkyTeam member airline
Photo courtesy KAL
Travelers can buy the pass as little as three days in advance of their first flight, visit from three to 11 cities over as long as a year, and pay fares calculated within three mileage bands of 13,000, 17,000 and 21,000 miles.

While that may appear similar to Eurail regional passes – which offer fixed-price passes for five, six, eight, or 10 days of train travel over a two-month period, for example – there are some important differences including the cost, which is determined by more than merely the mileage flown.

“[Ticket prices] depend on the point of departure and the destinations due to different airport taxes involved,” SkyTeam spokesperson Debbie Egerton told TheTravelPro in an e-mail. “As with a normal ticket it’s impossible to give a fare that will be representative of the whole Asia Pass.”

She recommended a sample itinerary to obtain an indication of the fares. For example, an itinerary from Guangzhou (CAN) to Sydney (SYD), Jakarta (CGK), Ho Chi Minh City (SGN), Taipei (TPE), and Seoul (ICN) would cost €1.814 for a GRASP pass compared to €3.924 if the tickets were purchased individually, Egerton said. Prices do not include tax.

Member airline Virgin Australia
Photo courtesy Virgin Australia
There are other parameters as well. Travel must begin and end in the same country, and at least one stop must be in Australia or New Zealand. However, unlike the alliance’s other passes, the GRASP pass “can be purchased without an intercontinental round-trip or Round the World ticket and is valid for travel originating within the region,” the news release said.

While the pass covers 26 countries within the region, travelers from North America must first get to the region before they can take advantage of all the pass has to offer, and the pass’s parameters should be considered when booking travel to and from the region. For example, certain intercontinental flight “specials” include limitations, such as a maximum stay of three months, which would make it impossible to fully utilize use the maximum one-year validity for the GRASP pass.

More information about the GRASP pass and other SkyTeam passes is available here

Countries included:
Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Russian Federation East of the Urals, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Southwest Pacific: Australia, Guam, New Zealand.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



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