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Ski Resort Life

Your 12 Most Commonly Asked Epic and Ikon Pass Questions Answered

Which pass offers spring access? Which one includes insurance? When do prices go up? All your questions addressed in one place.

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Blackouts, perks, insurance, spring access, oh my! There are so many details surrounding each pass that the questions seem nearly endless. While the passes are similar in what they offer, there are some important differences. We collected the most commonly asked questions about each pass, with clear answers and links to more detailed information.

powder skiing Beaver Creek
Multipasses are your best value by far for fun in the pow next winter. Photo: Getty Images

Frequently Asked Questions About the Ikon and Epic Passes

Can you upgrade from a lower-tier pass to a higher-tier pass after your purchase?

Epic Pass: Yes, you can upgrade your pass for as long as passes are on sale, and pay the price difference between the two.

Ikon Pass : Same as Epic

Can you ski in the spring after purchase?

Epic Pass: There’s no spring 2022 access offered on the 2022-’23 Epic Pass, the first skiing is whenever the Epic resorts on your pass open for the season in the fall.

Ikon Pass: Yes, there’s spring 2022 skiing at 10 Ikon resorts with purchase of a 2022-’23 Ikon Pass or Ikon Base Pass. Find the resorts here.  

Is pass insurance included?

Epic Pass: Epic Coverage is included with all pass purchases and covers job loss, injury or illness, and even pregnancy and jury duty. It also covers qualified resort closure due to Covid-19, war, terrorism, and natural disaster. As with all insurance, there’s fine print. Read it here. Vail Resorts doesn’t offer any additional insurance for Epic Pass.

Ikon Pass: Adventure Assurance comes with all Ikon Pass, Base Pass, and Base Plus Pass purchases, and covers Covid-related resort closures. Pass holders will get credits in case of qualifying resort closures. It also gives pass holders the option to defer their unused Ikon Pass to the next season as long as they elect to do so before Dec. 8, 2022. Fine print here.

Alterra also offers optional injury insurance through SPOT, which is NOT included in the pass price. This covers up to $25,000 for out-of-pocket expenses for injuries incurred while using the pass. This is geared toward skiers without health insurance or those with high-deductible plans who want more peace of mind on the slopes. Details here.

When do prices go up?

Epic Pass: Price don’t increase after the April 21 deadline, but passes bought after that date will not include 10 Buddy Passes, the fixed-rate discounts valid at all Vail Resorts-owned mountains. The six Ski With a Friend passes will still be included after April 21, but those don’t offer as much of a savings. If history is a guide, the Epic Pass prices will increase around Labor Day before going off sale in early December (see below).

Ikon Pass: The price of the Ikon Pass will increase after April 21, and the renewal discount for returning pass holders will also expire. The $100 child’s pass with adult purchase also goes away after April 21.

When do passes go off sale?

Epic Pass: Vail Resorts doesn’t share an exact date this early, but it’s typically been early December (last year it was Dec. 5). Once the passes are no longer available—and this includes Epic Day passes—skiers are stuck paying advance online rates, buying at the ticket window, or using a pass holder’s Buddy or SWAF tickets.

Ikon Pass: Same as Epic, you can expect passes to go off sale in early December; the deadline was Dec. 9 last winter. This includes the Session Passes, so plan ahead if you want to ski at reasonable rates. Options after the pass is off sale are the same as Epic: buy online, at the window, or use a friend’s F&F ticket—none of which are even close to the value of a Session Pass or Base Pass for multiple days of skiing.

Do I have to renew the same tier pass to get the discount/Buddy Passes?

Epic Pass: No, you can purchase any eligible pass to get the 10 Buddy Passes. It doesn’t matter if you’re switching from the full Epic to the Epic Local, you’ll get the Buddy Passes as long as you pull the trigger before April 21. The only Epic products that don’t come with Buddy Passes, even before April 21, are Epic Day, Epic SchoolKids, and any Whistler Blackcomb passes, free toddler passes, and 80+ and 90+ senior citizen passes. Lots of details here.

Ikon Pass: Same as Epic, you don’t have to renew the same level of pass to get the renewal discount. If you were a full Ikon Pass holder and decide to downgrade to the Ikon Base, your renewal discount is $50, but if you decide to stay with the full Ikon, you get $100 off (remember, the renewal discount expires on April 21). All eligible Ikon Passes include 10 Friends & Family discount passes (8 on the Ikon Base and Base Plus) good for 25 percent-off window rates at participating resorts. You don’t have to purchase by April 21 to get this benefit.

Breckenridge summer chairlift
Epic Pass offers free summer scenic lift rides with a pass purchased during the preceding spring. Photo: Getty Images

Do I get any summer access with my pass?

Epic Pass: Epic Pass holders get free scenic chairlift or gondola rides at the same resorts where their pass is valid, but only the Vail Resorts-owned destination. (So if you have a full Epic Pass, you don’t get summer access at Telluride, even though you get seven ski days.) Summer access doesn’t include mountain bike passes or bike haul. More details here.

Ikon Pass: There are myriad summer benefits on the Ikon Pass, too many to list here, but most are in the form of discounts on things like bike park tickets, dining and lodging, and activities. They also have a partnership with CMH (Canadian Mountain Holidays) Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures. Ikon Pass holders get up to $1,000 CAD off hiking trips.

How do I redeem my Friends & Family/Buddy Passes?

Epic Pass: The Epic Pass holder must be present to redeem a Buddy or SWAF pass. Go to any ticket window to get your pass scanned and discounted ticket printed.

Ikon Pass: Ikon Pass holders can send a Friends & Family discount to the person of their choice from within their Ikon account, and that person can redeem and pay for it online. The discounted pass can also be printed at any ticket window at participating resorts. The only resorts where the pass holder MUST be in person to redeem an F&F discount is at Jackson Hole and Taos Ski Valley. If the resort requires reservations, then one must be made to redeem the F&F pass, as well.

Which resorts are requiring reservations for next season and when will reservations open?

Epic Pass: There are currently no resorts planning to require reservations for 2022-’23 season, although that is subject to change.

Ikon Pass: Resorts planning to require reservations for the 2022-’23 season are: Aspen Snowmass, Colo., Jackson Hole, Wyo., Big Sky, Mont., The Summit at Snoqualmie, Wash., Loon Mountain, N.H., Taos Ski Valley, N.M, and Brighton Resort, Utah. Ikon has not yet announced when reservations will open.

skiing with kids
Kids 4 and under ski free on both the Epic and the Ikon Pass. Photo: Getty Images

Do kids ski free?

Epic Pass: Kids 4 and under qualify for free Epic Passes; stop by a ticket window with proof of age to get it printed. Otherwise, Epic SchoolKids provides free skiing, with blackouts, to children in grades kindergarten through fifth who live in either Utah, Colorado, Washington, or B.C. Lots of details here.

Ikon Pass: Kids 4 and under also ski free at Ikon resorts; kids 5-12 get $100 off a kids’ pass with an adult purchase (max of 2 passes for a total of $200 off). The child discount is good on the full Ikon Pass, the Base Pass, and the Base Plus Pass only.

Do senior citizens ski free?

Epic Pass: Seniors of any age do not qualify for free Epic Passes, but Vail Resorts does have some discounted Epic Passes valid in different regions, including the Tahoe Value Pass, Northeast Value Senior Pass, Northeast Midweek Pass, and an unrestricted, unlimited Stevens Pass product that’s only $103 for seniors 70-89. Find the rest of the senior pass offerings here by clicking on the “additional ages” dropdown. The individual resorts may also offer age-dependent discounts.

Ikon Pass: There are no senior discounts available on the Ikon Pass, however seniors should check with the individual resorts for applicable age-eligible discounts regardless of whether they’re Ikon Pass holders.

How does the payment plan work?

Epic Pass: Epic FlexPay, new this season, lets pass holders pay over their choice of three, six, nine, or 12 months, depending on what they qualify for. Apply after choosing your pass, and your offer will be based on your credit score, among other factors. The $49 initial down payment must still be made at the time of purchase, and no interest will be charged. If you don’t qualify for financing, you can still put the $49 and pay the balance in September. And yes, you can use the pass before all the payments have been completed. All the details here.

Ikon Pass: Ikon’s payment works similar to Epic’s. Choose the pass you want, and when you go to pay, you can apply for financing with Affirm, to pay over the course of three, six, or 12 months. Depending on your application details and the cost of the passes, you might have to put money down, and you also might have to pay interest between 10 and 30 percent APR depending on your credit score. Pass holders can start using the pass before payments are complete. Read more about the options here.

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