How to Score in Seat Sales

Seat Sale

We’re halfway through the second month of the year and during January alone I already came across a lot of seat sales. There’s the corona scare, no doubt about that, but don’t let that hinder you from wanting to go to places, because like in The Maze Runner, scientists are looking for a cure. And it can be found, for sure. (Damn, how good can I get with rhymes?) In fact, as of writing there’s already news on Favilavir.

Contrary to popular belief, 88% of my flights (those taken for pleasure) within and from the Philippines (round trip, of course) were secured at low prices through luck and patience. I’d say myself that I’ve actually become dexterous at hunting them down. That being said, I’ll be putting Cebu Pacific Air into the context of this post (unless otherwise stated). Needless to say, it should generally be the same for other airlines out there.

Believe

Believe that seat sales are real in the same way that you believe in yourself. Hah! Cheeky, huh? Many people, after hearing that flights are on sale but didn’t see them discounted for the dates they searched, easily give up. Well, I used to be the same. Until I finally saw with my very own innocent eyes a flight with ₱1 as the price.

I could no longer retrieve the details, but my earliest memory of a discounted airfare that I bought myself was in 2012 when I flew to Iloilo and spent an awesome time for Independence Day at Kenyama with college classmates. I’ll be showing real-life examples latur so chill out for now.

Timing

The quickest way for you to be in the know is to follow the airline’s social media accounts. In my case, it has always been Twir. The platform has a feature which notifies you when a particular user is being a twit tweets. Seat sales are, if not always, announced either during midday or midnight. If there’s a holiday, you can expect that there’s gonna be one. This has been observed for the longest time and has become common knowledge.

With everyone having access to computers and smartphones now and airlines sometimes announcing ahead unlike in the past, grabbing cheap seats is essentially engaging in war with your Internet connection and fingering skills in your arsenal. Midnight is still very early for people who are eager to score them. Add the website’s inaptitude to handle website traffic to that and you can be doomed.

Fortunately, if you got doomed, then so did others. If your middle name is Discipline, you can wake up when everyone has given up. That means striking a surprise attack on the enemy during the earliest morning hours. Important piece of note: don’t expect that all seats are on sale during a sale period. It’s never the case. You have to put in effort in searching.

In addition, while it’s true that the number of discounted seats available can easily go down to zero on the first day of sale, never say never as long as the sale is on. Not everyone has access to online payments so others prefer to pay via payment centers and in cases where the payment is not fulfilled, the seat(s) they were supposed to pay for could be released and made up for grabs for everyone again. Laban!

Choosy

Me: There’s a seat sale today.
Friend: Ugh, the flights on sale are one year away from today…
*after one year*
Friend: You’re flying out again?!
Me: *slams the door behind me*

Clearly, the airline won’t adjust to lowlives like us our needs. If you really wanna go, you have to be flexible on your dates and be willing to wait. That’s the essence of seat sales; they’re usually off-peak season dates. Another thing that instantly disheartens people is finding out that the amount they will be paying at the end of the booking is not the indicated slashed amount.

Take for example, in a ₱1 fare seat sale (or any other sale for that matter), there will still be additional charges which include taxes and fuel surcharges, resulting to more or less ₱1,000 in total (in the case of domestic flights). But come on, that’s already a round trip itinerary! No-brainer, brother, especially if you sometimes find yourself paying for the same amount for a night of neglect. It’s also important to note that tickets acquired during seat sales are non-refundable.

Unpopular

As every place has something to offer, you should consider looking into those which are part of the roads less taken. While everyone is battling their way to get their arses on seats to popular destinations, you can simply sit back while booking with less competition.

The best example that I could give for this would be Tuguegarao. I have booked it thrice so far—once with Cebu Pacific Air and twice with Philippine Airlines—and never have I ever ****** two ***** had troubles in doing so. My only problem was that I ended up not using all of them. All of them. That’s another story though and not the point here so let’s all move on so that nobody gets hurt.

Account

Having an online account with the airline doesn’t only allow you to keep track of your upcoming and past flights but also provides ease and speed in booking. For instance, you can add the passengers’ details ahead. No more trying to contact everyone at 3AM to ask for their birthdays and waiting for all eternity for their responses. It also lets you gain points/miles which you can eventually use to pay for flights. It’s a win-win in every angle.

Personally, I get the feeling that if you have an account, your booking activity is preferred over those who are not logged in. Or it’s just me, being your average feelingero. Then again, AirAsia actually offers a 24-hour early access to its members. Yes, you heard that right. If you have an account with them and they’re having a sale, you are privileged to buy tickets one day ahead of those who have cluttered lives don’t have accounts.

You should also utilize the airline’s mobile app. I also have this hunch that websites and apps function differently in that sometimes what you no longer see in the website (sold out seats) are still visible in the app (and vice versa) and even has a different price. So… Yeah, just do it. No will die if you do so. Embrace sheer luck!

Commitment

If you’re someone who can travel on your own and you’re good with the dates, book your soul the flights it deserves right away without question. Believe me, majority of failed group bookings during a seat sale are because of your companions. Secure yourself first and you can then just tell them what you did, and witness them throw swear words at you or panic out of envy in wanting to book the same itinerary that you mercilessly booked without them. This never fails, because a trip only materializes if and only if there’s someone who’ll stop at nothing to get confirmed tickets. And that’s gonna be you. The smart-ass you.

On the contrary, if you really need to have someone with you when traveling because you’d feel safer that way (and because God knows how hard it is to have non-selfie pictures with the loveliest backgrounds), what you can do is find someone who will 100% accept with wide arms open anything you will book when the opportunity presents itself. It should be someone who can go by the conversation similar to the one below.

You: Just booked our tickets to XXX!
Friend: Awesome! When do I need to pay you?

There. No other questions. Only a “let’s do it” attitude. Of course, that means that you already talked in advance. In cases where there are allegedly many interested heads, you have to agree on a destination and consolidate their complete names and birthdays. In my experience though, my gut feeling always told me to cross-check with them even though they already said that they’re “okay with anything” and when I did, yep, I was thrown with hesitation. Promises down the drain.

You have to have the disposition that, ultimately, you might end up traveling alone, because it goes without saying that scheduling conflicts and more important matters could arise, making people bail out. I myself have ditched a trip to El Nido with my first colleagues because I just moved to a new job for the first time and didn’t have the balls to tell my employer before jumping in that I have an upcoming trip.

Proofs

Incoming photo dump. There’s no better way to reinforce all the spouting so far than by digging and showing some real round trip deals scored. Vamos!

2013: Feb 27 – Mar 03, Manila to Hong Kong for ₱2,441.18

Hong Kong

Macau

2013: Aug 17 – Aug 21, Manila to Cagayan de Oro for ₱1,359.20

White water rafting

Camiguin

2014: Feb 05 – Feb 09, Manila to Bangkok for ₱3,598.84

Pattaya

Bangkok

2014: Apr 05 – Apr 09, Manila to Kalibo for ₱1,549.36 via AirAsia

Boracay

Antique

2014: Aug 25 – Aug 28, Manila to Kuala Lumpur for ₱3,090.62

Kuala Lumpur

Melaka

2015: Jan 16 – Jan 19, Manila to Iloilo for ₱1,382.04

Miag-ao

Islas de Gigantes

2015: Feb 27 – Mar 05, Manila to Kota Kinabalu for ₱2,182.65

Kota Kinabalu

Brunei

2015: Jun 17 – Jun 20, Manila to Butuan for ₱804.12

Enchanted River

Enchanted River

2015: Aug 27 – Sep 02, Manila to Puerto Princesa for ₱1,382.04

El Nido

El Nido

2015: Nov 13 – Nov 16, Manila to Iloilo for ₱1,185.00

Smallville

Campuestohan

2015: Dec 11 – Dec 14, Manila to Iloilo for ₱1,185.00

Guimaras

Bavaria

2016: Aug 28 – Sep 01, Manila to Puerto Princesa for ₱55X.XX via AirAsia (eating at Viking’s is more expensive!)

El Nido

Nacpan Beach

2016: Oct 26 – Oct 31, Manila to Taipei for ₱4,161.05

Yehliu

Taipei

2016: Nov 27 – Nov 30, Manila to Tuguegarao for ₱868.12
2017: Jan 09 – Jan 13, Manila to Phuket for ₱1,872.10

Phuket

Phuket

2017: Mar 22 – Mar 27, Manila to Singapore for ₱4,642.80

Singapore

Singapore

2017: Jun 08 – Jun 15, Manila to Sydney for ₱7,884.40

Sydney

Sydney

2017: Aug 01 – Aug 08, Manila to Tokyo for ₱6,704.13

Tokyo

Bungee jumping in Gunma

2017: Oct 28 – Nov 05, Manila to Dubai for ₱9,358.58

Abu Dhabi

Skydiving in Dubai

2018: Jan 12 – Jan 16, Manila to Coron for ₱2,513.00

Coron

Coron

2018: Sep 22 – Sep 29, Manila to Greece for ₱22,518.66 via Scoot
2018: Nov 03 – Nov 06, Manila to Nagoya for 600 points + ₱2,303.60

Takayama

Tateyama

2019: Mar 22 – Mar 25, Clark to Tuguegarao for ₱850.00
2019: Jun 09 – Jun 13, Manila to Butuan for ₱1,453.88

Tricks

  • Don’t let the title of the seat sale fool you. Even if it’s for ₱99, ₱299, ₱599, or any other knocked off amount, you should still invest time in looking for your desired flights, because you might end up paying the same amount as if it were a ₱1 sale. I can attest to this. It’s as if the system adjusts the extra charges accordingly to arrive at the same total. Now isn’t that generous?
  • In a similar way, don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got selected destinations on sale. Check those that aren’t part of the announcement too. You’ll be surprised that some are actually on sale as well. It might’ve been a system glitch, but I can also attest to this. Truly, there’s no harm in trying.
  • Maximize being in or close to the capital. You have no idea how troublesome it is for people from provinces to have to fly there first just to be able to go to where they really wanna go.
  • Availability of seats on sale tend to occur on the same dates. There have been instances where indecisive other friends were able to make it to the trip as the seats we paid for, if not at the same time, were available for the same day when the next seat sale happened. I also happened to check, out of curiosity, our Sydney flight dates when I came across a seat sale for the same period and they were obtainable. Oh, yes.

We all have responsibilities and priorities greatly change when you get hitched or become a parent, so while you’re on your own and think that you deserve some time off from time to time by flying, do it. If you can see yourself buying material things with any of the amounts I enumerated, then surely you can see yourself buying plane tickets using the same amount. Because let’s face it, there’s always the euphoric feeling of being in a place you’ve never been to. The only problem that you’ll probably encounter is how to tell your boss that you have a life outside of work. Good luck!

Bonus

Ever heard of error fares? If not, well, you just did. The closest that I could’ve gotten my hands on to before was a flight to the US from Hong Kong for less than $400. How? Secret Flying is your confidant. You can follow them on Twir or sign up in their website, set your departing cities/countries, and receive notifications in their app. Went the extra mile and created a tiny script which regularly checks new posts from them and sends me an e-mail when a keyword is found in the title. Geeky, I know.

Secret Flying Alert

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>