There’s another on-going seat sale right now, and despite my vow not to use my credit card this month, I ended up abusing it. My last tally of 7 tickets have now risen to 13 tickets. Total damage to my credit card: Php 2,335.80 for 6 one-way tickets to different destinations. Next year is going to be totally crazy. Fare thee well, Japan.
So how do I end up with these cheap fares? Here are some of the things that help me score tickets at rock-bottom prices:
Watch out for seat sales and airline promos
This is fairly easy, since you can sign up for each airline’s mailing list. Once you sign up, you’ll receive an e-mail alerting you about upcoming sales and promos (just make sure they don’t end up in your spam box!). If you’re wary about giving out your e-mail address, Twitter and Facebook are two alternatives, as airlines are now utilizing social media to promote their sales. If you prefer to stay updated via RSS, there are a number of blogs focused solely on posting about airlines promos. People flock to the airline website as soon as the sale start, and for the first few hours, the website will be incredibly slow and sometimes, you can’t access it at all. What you should do is to either stay up late or wake up early: the traffic eases up around 3am, and stays that way until about 6am.
Be mindful of your dates
We usually base our trip dates on our non-working holidays. For those working with a strict schedule, this is probably the only time they can get out of work. However, before you book those dates, check the holidays of your destination! If there’s a public holiday in your destination, airlines would most likely not give out sale fares for these dates. Of course, if you’re flying in for a specific holiday or festival, book your ticket as soon as you get the confirmed dates to get the best deals (book your accommodation as well, since rooms quickly fill up during festivals). If and when possible, travel on a weekday, when there are less people traveling.
Study the airline’s route map
When airlines announce their promos, they usually publish the fares to specific destinations. Unfortunately, flights in and out of Manila are limited. However, a number of budget airlines fly to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, where there are more flights to various cities within the Southeast Asia and beyond. Don’t be discouraged that XXXXXX Airlines only fly to 2 destinations from Manila — they could be flying to other more exotic destinations from their hub. You just need to find an alternative way of getting there 😉
Round trip isn’t the only way
Round trip tickets are always cheaper than one-way tickets on regular airlines. However, low cost carriers give you more flexibility in this aspect, as the fare for each way are the same, varying only on the taxes imposed on each airport. Your exit point doesn’t necessarily have to be the same as your entry point. For example, if you’re looking to travel around South East Asia from the Philippines, you can start your journey in Ho Chi Minh and end it in Singapore. A note on buying one-way tickets though: if you’re holding a Philippine passport flying out of Manila as a tourist, you need to present your ticket for the flight back to Manila, else they wouldn’t let you check in for your flight out.
Just because it’s not budget, it means it’s expensive
There are several ways of getting from Point A to Point B. Following my example above, you can either fly from Vietnam to Singapore to catch your plane home, or you can be adventurous and travel overland through Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia. On the same vein, unless you’re traveling from a remote location, there would usually be more than one airline serving the cities you’re flying to. Do not constrain yourself with the budget airlines. Put your Google-fu to practice and research all the airlines serving the route and check each one for their fares. Yes, even the regular airlines. Last October, when I went to Bangkok, I flew via Philippine Airlines instead of the competing budget airline because the fare I was able to get from PAL is so much cheaper. Don’t limit yourself to the lite fares as well (carry-on only, no check-in baggage): check what’s the price difference between the lite fares to the regular economy tickets. You’ll be surprised that sometimes, there’s only a minimal price difference, or sometimes none at all.
Always read the fine line
Each promo have its own terms and conditions, which is often different from the terms and conditions for regular fares. Promo fares are usually non rebookable, non transferable non reroutable and non refundable. Other restrictions include limited or no baggage allowance or higher than usual re-booking fees. If you’re buying tickets for a trip more than 6 months ahead, consider investing on a ticket that will allow you to rebook without additional fees.
Hold your clicks!
In your haste to get that coveted ultra cheap fare, you might end up clicking “OK” after skimming through the text. Hold your horses and READ! There are pre-selected choices there for services that you might not need. These come in the form of check-in baggage allowance (if you’re backpacking, you wouldn’t really need that 15K baggage allowance now, would you? Unless you went crazy shopping in Bangkok…), in-flight meals, travel insurance, preferred seats, etc. Also, be mindful of the wordings, as they can be quite tricky — sometimes you need to click on Cancel instead of the usual OK.
I hope this tips help you plan for your next adventure. Wait, why are you still here reading? Go book your flight now!