#BOOKING101: How to score and book sulit low-fare tickets

Traveling lets us escape our daily reality and helps us see more of the intoxicating beauty of the world. We only live once and the responsibilities pile up as we grow older, why not seize the opportunities we have while we’re young?

To do that, we have to book tickets and tickets are usually costly and we don’t have a sugar daddy/mommy to keep us going throughout our young days (Char lang). But we can beat those expensive tickets by knowing when and where to book. Let this be your little guide!

Who would say no to a ₱200+ round-trip ticket to Cebu, a ₱1,300+ round-trip ticket to Kuala Lumpur, a ₱1,800+ ticket to & from Bangkok & a ₱4,900+ round-trip ticket to Tokyo & from Osaka? No one. We look to Paolo Rellama, owner of The Wknd Travel, for tips and tricks from his latest blog.

“You want to know my secret? Let me teach you how you can become a CHAMP in booking cheap domestic & international tickets from Manila, Cebu or any Philippine airport,” he writes.

“Note: These tips mostly apply only to low-cost carriers like Cebu Pacific Air, Air Asia, Jetstar Asia, et al. The tips below are purely based on actual observations & past personal experiences; they did not come from any airline insider or connection. Also, these tips don’t include baggage allowance, seat selection & other flight add-ons. I don’t intend to endorse any airline / carrier; I am not affiliated in any of the mentioned companies below.”

Everything noted below came from The Wknd Travel’s CHAMP guideline:

C – CHECK & subscribe to mailing lists

Airlines regularly send out emails about their upcoming & current fare offers. Air Asia announces their low-fare sale 3-5 days before & announces the travel period a day before the priority sale. Cebu Pacific Air sends out regular announcements to their subscribers while Jetstar alerts their subscribers 2-3 days before a low-fare sale or minutes before the regular 10 AM Friday Frenzy Sale.

H – HOLIDAYS & special occasions

Seat sales usually happen 1 day before or sometimes, on the day of the holiday / special occasion. Cebu Pacific Air usually starts their offers at 12:01 am, a day before a Philippine Holidaytrue to the recent New Year sale (started 31 December 2016), Christmas Day sale (started 24 December 2016) & Bonifacio Day sale (started 29 November 2016). From memory, the only seat sale that starts 12:01 am of the same day is the Easter Sunday sale. This was the holiday where my friend & I booked our Japan tickets for less than ₱5,000 each.

A Japan round-trip ticket for 2 booked during the 2015 Easter Sunday seat sale

There are also occasions where airline companies hold special seat sales. This can range from anniversary sales (i.e. Cebu Pacific’s 20th Anniversary Piso [₱1.00] base fare sale last 8 March 2016 & Philippine Airline’s 75th Anniversary [up to 75% off on fares] sale last 13 March 2016) to random calendar patterned offer fares (i.e. Cebu Pacific’s 12.12 sale last December 12, 2012 & 10 peso sale last October 10, 2010). On the other hand, Jetstar holds their annual Boxing Day sale every after Christmas & their Return-For-Free promo in some selected months per year.

A super-duper mega affordable round-trip ticket to Bangkok booked during Cebu Pacific Air’s 20th Anniversary Sale last March 2016

A – Airlines’ Mobile APPS

Airline websites tend to get busy minutes after every low-fare sale starts. An alternative way of securing cheap tickets is booking via the airlines’ respective mobile applications. These applications show the same fares being offered in the websites.

The Bangkok ticket above was booked at 12:38 am via the mobile app

Some applications allow you to log in & key in personal details beforehand for faster check out. Always remember only credit card is the only mode of payment accepted in booking via these mobile applications.

M – MEMBERSHIPS, Miles & Loyalty Points

Airlines offer memberships to all its patrons. These memberships let you save your personal details, family members & companion details as well as credit card details in their system. Having all the details saved online makes bookings faster, thus securing your promo seat in no time.

Air Asia provides a 24-hour priority access to their Air Asia BIG Loyalty Programme members. The members can already book tickets ahead of time (usually every 12:01 am Sunday) before they start the network-wide sale (which starts 12:01 of the next day, Monday).

A round-trip ticket to Kuala Lumpur I got for 20 Air Asia BIG Points & ₱1,300+

Cebu Pacific’s GetGo also sends emails for upcoming seat sales; these email alerts let their members plan their trips ahead of the sale.

Most airlines also allow you to earn loyalty miles/points every time you fly with them. Air Asia allows you to earn Big points, Cebu Pacific Air lets you earn GetGo Points, Philippine Airlines allows you to earn Mabuhay Miles & so on. Make sure to register in these platforms & earn miles/points in each and every flight you take. Keep on earning miles/points with these airlines & you’ll eventually get privileges such as free flights, exclusive seat sales, in-flight treats & lounge access.

Flew back to Manila for free last week; Used my GetGo points for my ticket

P – PLAN Dates

The last tip I can give to everyone is to plan the dates of your trip. You might ask me, how will one know the travel period of the upcoming sales of each airline? Easy. Given I’ve been booking tickets for years, I have already noticed some patterns on the travel dates offered in the seat sales.

Cebu Pacific Air makes changes in their website a few minutes before 12 midnight. Make sure to check the website 11:58 pm – 11:59 pm before the usual holiday sale to have an idea on the offer fares as well as their respective travel period (before everyone knows about it by 12:01 am). Usually, the travel period of the low fares can range from 4 months from the current month up to 12 months.

Air Asia on the other hand announces the travel period 12 hours before the priority sale for BigShot members. They send out an email to all members to announce the travel dates for the upcoming sale.

Jetstar’s Friday Frenzy sale usually offers discounted fares for immediate travel (within the next 3 months) while their special sale offers low fares for travels 4-6 months from the day / month of booking.

Tip: If you want to travel on dates during long weekends, make sure to choose the dates 2 days before or after the holiday / long weekend for higher chances of securing a low fare seat.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to the different airline websites & subscribe to their mailing list, download the available mobile apps, join the different membership & loyalty programs, plan your next trips & wait for the next low fare sale. You might just get the most affordable ticket to your dream destination!

If you have any questions, go ahead and send an email to [email protected].

Thoughts? Leave a comment below!

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