Whenever airlines announce promos on their Facebook fan pages, they are bombarded with all sorts of complaints from users. While some of them have a point, some users just accuse the airlines of being deceptive, claiming that the sale is just some empty promise or a misleading marketing strategy. Some even go as far as saying that the SALE is not real.
Well, I can say that these promos are real. Just because you can’t find promo seats doesn’t mean they are not. I have availed of it a number of times already. But the Poor Traveler understands where the negativity is coming from and so I have compiled some tips on how to successfully book a promo flight.
This applies to local airlines such as Cebu Pacific Air, AirAsia, PAL Express, Seair/Tiger Airways, and Zest Air since all airlines today offer Piso (and sometimes, even free) seats and users encounter the same problems. Here we go.
1. Follow airlines’ social media accounts.
Stalk them on Twitter and Facebook. They usually announce either at 12 midnight or 12 noon. They also have special sales during holidays and important occasions. For example, to celebrate their anniversaries, airlines usually launch massive promos as a treat and a marketing stunt. They also usually have promos on Easter, Valor Day, Independence Day, and New Year’s Day among others. I’m referring to booking periods, not travel periods.
2. Book by small batches.
This is one thing I have proven so many times. When you book for so many people at once, the site displays “SOLD OUT.” But when you book for just one or two people, you can have that same flight (same plane, same day, same time).
For example, two weeks ago, during their PISO FARE promo, my friends and I were booking tickets to Cagayan de Oro. There were 5 of us. Every date we chose, we would get a SOLD OUT display. But when we tried just booking for two people, suddenly some slots became available. So what we did were book two flights and then my friend booked the same flight for three people using a different computer. In March, all 5 of us will fly to Cagayan de Oro.
3. Be quick and early. Book on the first day of SALE.
Perhaps the reason I always grab sale seats is because I book early. If the announced sale period is November 3-6, book on November 3. There’s a big chance there won’t be anything left in the following days. The number of seats in a plane is finite and they can only put a few of them on sale but the demand is so big that they tend to get sold out easily.
If you found Piso Fares and you like the dates, book them fast. You have no idea how many users are eyeing those same seats at that moment and you will lose them soon.
4. Book in the wee hours.
I know it sounds ridiculous but if you really want to grab a cheap seat, book in the wee hours of announced date of sale. Sometimes, they announce promos at midnight (via Facebook and Twitter) and you will have more chances if you’re searching within the first hour after the announcement.
Also, whenever there’s a sale going on, the airline websites seem to be dragging their feet — it’s just too slow and you may also be getting error messages. This is what you can avoid when you book while the rest of the world is in slumber.
5. Consider other dates.
If there are no more seats on your chosen dates, pick another. Obviously, weekends tend to get sold-out faster than other days of the week. Be flexible when it comes to dates and timings.
Be patient. I know it can get tiring clicking the Next Day/Previous Day button but if you really want a P1 ticket, you shouldn’t mind going through all dates if necessary. If you have very specific dates that can’t be changed, then good luck to you.
6. Choose a not-so-popular destination.
Davao, Cebu, Bohol and Palawan seem to be the most loved destinations — they go “sold out” even before you consider booking. So come up with alternative places to visit that are also worth your time. For example, Dumaguete offers a heritage-rich experience as well as great beaches. Iloilo is your gateway to Guimaras where beaches are as stunning as in many provinces in the country. Laoag opens your doors to Pagudpud and the best of the Ilocos region.
Also, try using other gateways to the destination you wish to visit. Want to fly to Dumaguete but no more P1 seats? Try Cebu and just take a ferry to Dumaguete. This way, you’ll also get to explore Cebu. No more Caticlan seats? Kalibo is just two hours away. Going to Samar but no more Catarman or Calbayog seats? Try Tacloban. Be open to other possibilities.
Remember that the “piso” or most published rates are usually the base fares only. What are base fares? In a nutshell, that’s the cost of the seat, your slot inside the plane. It does not include the taxes, booking fees, and fuel surcharges. Thus, you might still end up paying considerably higher than the published rates.
No, these are NOT hidden charges. They are published on the poster, the website, everywhere. And no, the airlines are NOT tricking you. Even if these are just base fares, these are still significantly lower than the regular rates. On a regular day, the base fare alone can amount to up to P5000 for domestic and over P10,000 for international destinations. Yet, with these promos you get them for P1, P20 or whatever the promo rate is. That is cheap, with or without the additional fees.
There you go. Again, don’t forget to subscribe to the airline’s Twitter or Facebook alerts so you’re the first to know.