A lot of people have been asking me how I have become such an “expert” in booking all these amazingly low flight fares for all my travels these past few months and after repeating it over and over again from one person to another, I thought it would be best, for the benefit of everyone else, that I post about it here and just give them this link every time somebody else would ask me the same question again. So I’ll do my best to give you guys as much tips as possible based on my experiences as well.
(1) Prioritize these two airlines : Cebu Pacific and AirAsia. NEVER ever ride Airphil.
All these years of travelling, Cebu Pacific and AirAsia are the only ones who never disappointed me. Well maybe the flight schedule change of being moved for another four hours from our Colombo to Kuala Lumpur trip screwed up my KL to Manila flight is reason enough to be royally pissed, but still, I would forgive AirAsia. Yes, I’m sure there are horror stories going around about these airlines, but nothing could be worse from all the horror stories about Airphil or even PAL. I have experienced it firsthand, and a number of my friends could also vouch for this as well. At least for me, I would choose the lesser evil and enjoy it.
Cebu Pacific is the most convenient one compared to AirAsia since most of CebuPac’s international flights are in Manila and Cebu, which are easily accessible compared to AirAsia flights that are all based in Clark, which requires you to travel for 2 hours via bus from Manila.
AirAsia is the cheapest of them all and the most customer-friendly. If the cheapest international ticket you can get from Cebu Pacific is P3,000 for a roundtrip ticket, the cheapest you can get from AirAsia is half of that for P1,500! Their web check-in facility is very convenient too since they allow you to do roundtrip web check-ins months before your flight. Cebu Pacific can only do one-way web check-ins within 48 hours before your flight date and does not offer roundtrip web check-ins. They seriously need to do this. Paging Cebu Pacific!
And AirAsia allows name change at no additional fee. Shame on Cebu Pacific for not doing this. One needs to be extra careful in typing and spelling out passengers’ names because they will charge you more if you made a mistake and if you’d want to correct it. I misspelled one of my friend’s names before and I called AirAsia and they were kind enough to edit it at no additional cost. Their customer service is the best out there. Check out other budget carriers like ZestAir, Jetstar and Tiger Airways. But their rates are not as good as the other two mentioned above.
(2) Be updated. Be active in social networks.
This does not mean checking and refreshing an airline’s website all the time. There are a number of ways to be updated for all these promo fares. Subscribe via email, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Note the emphasis on AND, not OR. So doing all these three is a must and do not be contented with just one. Fact is, you might miss out on those Facebook postings, and email notifications of these seat sales come in way too late from the actual start of the sale. Twitter updates are the most reliable one. If you have a smartphone and you have a data plan and if you are a Twitter addict like me, this is a big plus. My dad has a Cebu Pacific credit card and he gets updates via text messages hours before the actual schedule of the sale, which gives us the heads-up to prepare and contact a number of my friends to finalize our travel dates. You can even go ahead and book your flight even if the sale has not been announced on the website yet. If you don’t have a credit card, apply for one, and apply for a Cebu Pacific card.
(3) Remove unnecessary charges.
This is the sneaky part. A lot of people gets easily disappointed when they do their booking when they see the fare summary on the right side of the webpage after choosing their travel dates and destination. Please note that that is just an estimate and that includes a number of fees that you can easily get rid of like :
Check-in baggage : The normal weight for check-in baggages is 20kg for each flight. Adjust it to 15kg if you think you wouldn’t be carrying that much or don’t check-in anything at all. Airlines allow 7kg of handcarry luggage provided there are no liquids, sharp objects, etc on it.
Here’s another tip: if you are travelling with other people, do the check-in as follows: Person 1 (check-in for 20kg or 15kg), Person 2 (no baggage check-in), and so it goes. Based on experience, one person’s normal check-in baggage weight is actually between 10kg to 15kg, so combining your baggages in one ticket saves alot of money.
Having a portable luggage scale is also a big help. Though it’s not 100% accurate, it gives you an estimate of the total weight of your luggages, which gives you enough time to adjust your stuff before you get to the airport. It’s such an irritating sight to see people open their luggages at the check-in counter transferring clothes and stuff from one bag to another just to avoid the excess baggages charges. Save yourself of the hassle and stress and go buy your own portable luggage scale.
Ordering airline meals online : Remove, remove, remove. Go bring your own sandwich instead.
Insurance : Okay, I may be giving the wrong message here so let me make this clear. If you want to save, then skip it. If you want to get insurance if in any case something would happen, like a lost luggage or God forbid, you know what I mean, then get it. I don’t purchase travel insurance at all, so it’s up to you.
Skip seat selection : Unless you are very OC about sitting on a window seat, it’s not worth it. I usually tell the counter staff to place me on the aisle for easy access to the restrooms, especially for long flights.
(4) Plan ahead.
It all starts with the planning. Where do you want to go? Who’s coming with you? I always make sure I finalize the possible dates and my companions for any upcoming trips to make easier for me to just go ahead and book it, especially on a seat sale, rather than wait for a confirmation from them. By the time they would say yes, there are probably no more seats available or the schedule’s all screwed up (re: return flights not available, limited seats, etc.). So plan early, plan ahead. Get all their necessary info as well. Complete names, including middle name and their birthday. Take note: You DO NOT need a Passport number in order to book a flight.
Note : You can also book tickets from CebuPacific even if you do not have a credit card. Check this link out for a more detailed step-by-step instruction on how to pay via BDO’s Payment Center :
(5) Patience is power.
Yeah, it sure is a struggle sometimes to book these promo fares especially if thousands of other people are probably doing their booking the same time as you do. But if you really wanna grab it, you gotta have all the patience in the world to go through this. It took me 3 hours to book all my Piso-fare flights last January since the website is hanging, crashing, asking me to input my info over and over and over again, but I made sure I never gave up. Yes, I was that die-hard. I have also noticed that the best time to book these flights are around 3AM, when a big number of people are already tired and probably have already given up. Also, these airlines are also tricky. What might be a fully-booked flight may end up as open again the day after, probably because some of those who opted to pay via payment center did not decide to push through with their original booking. So it’s always recommended to check back from time to time.
(6) Don’t be a cheapskate. Or in local Pinoy dialect, don’t be KURIPOT.
So what if you weren’t able to book for a piso or zero fare promo flight? You’re just gonna give up on your travel dreams just like that? Piso fares and zero fares are not easy to get by, true, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t take advantage of the other promo fares available. Sometimes a P1,000 difference in flight fares is not a big deal. If you’re that obsessed of being a cheapskate, then don’t bother travelling at all! Yeah, you would probably end up with a roundtrip ticket of P7,000 or P8,000 so what? It’s still cheap compared to the usual fares which is twice that price. Take note that airlines offer seat sales most of the time for travel period 6 months from the current date of the actual seat sale onwards (mostly for those that are 80% or more off the purchase price). The least would be 3 months, but it’s not that big of a sale already, though it’s still a SALE, nonetheless.
So that’s it. I hope you guys were able to get some very informative tips here that you can use the next time you decide to watch out for these crazy promo fares and seat sales. And hope you’d get to be as lucky as I am in booking them. Remember, money is nothing, it’s the experience that counts!Follow @iamthegarysia