How to Score in Seat Sales / Promo Fares

Seat sale

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 during seat sales. I’d say that I’ve actually become dexterous at hunting them down. In this post I’ll be putting Cebu Pacific Air into the context but generally it should be the same for other airlines out there particularly those in the Philippines.

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 guiltless 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 a long weekend at Kenyama Beach Resort with college buddies. I’ll be showing real-life examples latur so chill out for now.

Right 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 on that day. 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 hours in the morning. Important piece of note: don’t expect that all seats and dates are on sale during a seat 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!

Choosing the Dates

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 (and non-transferable at that).

Unpopular Destinations

As every place has something to offer, you should also 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’ve booked it thrice in the past (I haven’t been to the future, have I?)—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.

Airline Accounts

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 3:00 AM 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 seat 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 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 one 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 tell them what you just 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 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.

Seat Sale Proofs

Incoming photo dump. There’s no better way to reinforce all the tips and tricks so far than by digging and showing some real round trip deals scored during seat sales and promo fares. Vamos!

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

Seat sale to Hong Kong

Macau (Seat sale to Hong Kong)

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

White water rafting (Seat sale to Cagayan de Oro)

Camiguin (Seat sale to Cagayan de Oro)

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

Pattaya (Seat sale to Bangkok, Thailand)

Seat sale to Bangkok, Thailand

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

Boracay (Seat sale to Kalibo, Aklan)

Antique (Seat sale to Kalibo, Aklan)

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

Seat sale to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Melaka (Seat sale to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

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

Miag-ao (Seat sale to Iloilo)

Islas de Gigantes (Seat sale to Iloilo)

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

Seat sale to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Brunei (Seat sale to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia)

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

Enchanted River (Seat sale to Butuan)

Enchanted River (Seat sale to Butuan)

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

El Nido (Seat sale to Puerto Princesa, Palawan)

El Nido (Seat sale to Puerto Princesa, Palawan)

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

Smallville (Seat sale to Iloilo)

Campuestohan (Seat sale to Iloilo)

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

Guimaras (Seat sale to Iloilo)

Bavaria (Seat sale to Iloilo)

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

El Nido (Seat sale to Puerto Princesa, Palawan)

Nacpan Beach (Seat sale to Puerto Princesa, Palawan)

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

Yehliu (Seat sale to Taipei, Taiwan)

Seat sale to Taipei, Taiwan

2016: Nov 27 – Nov 30, Manila to Tuguegarao for ₱868.12

2017: Jan 09 – Jan 13, Manila to Phuket for ₱1,872.10

Seat sale to Phuket, Thailand

Seat sale to Phuket, Thailand

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

Seat sale to Singapore

Seat sale to Singapore

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

Seat sale to Sydney, Australia

Seat sale to Sydney, Australia

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

Seat sale to Tokyo, Japan

Bungee jumping in Gunma (Seat sale to Tokyo, Japan)

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

Abu Dhabi (Seat sale to Dubai, UAE)

Skydiving in Dubai (Seat sale to Dubai, UAE)

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

Seat sale to Coron, Palawan

Seat sale to Coron, Palawan

2018: Sep 22 – Sep 29, Manila to Greece for ₱22,518.66 via Scoot

Seat sale to Athens, Greece

2018: Nov 03 – Nov 06, Manila to Nagoya for 600 points + ₱2,303.60

Takayama (Seat sale to Nagoya, Japan)

Tateyama (Seat sale to Nagoya, Japan)

2019: Mar 22 – Mar 25, Clark to Tuguegarao for ₱850.00

2019: Jun 09 – Jun 13, Manila to Butuan for ₱1,453.88

Tips & 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 for 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 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.

Automated Secret Flying alert

Nelson

View posts by Nelson
An outdated software engineer with the attention span of a fruit fly. Follow me on Instagram if you have one? Cheers!

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