The deals to be had today were few and far apart… or at least that was our personal experience… For us, an almost total waste of time. Mrs. MM had scored some phenomenal deals for air tickets last year at this same fair, plus she was allowed to book tickets at a normal PAL office, with her frequent flier card so didn’t even have to line up for hours, so we figured we would get out bright and early this morning with a long list of desired tickets that we hoped to save a bundle on. Since I fly to Cebu several times a month, I had hoped to book some 50+ legs on PAL while Mrs. MM was looking for deals on international travel.
We spent a day mapping out trips, desired flights, times, etc. and went armed with printouts. We arrived at MOA at 6:45 am. Yup, 6:45am and were already say number 200 in line! And the doors didn’t open until 10am! By the time we got to the PAL booth, which to their credit had 50 agents taking reservations, we had a number of 300 (they let all senior citizens in ahead) and we waited another 3 hours before getting to the counter! Now with say 8 hours invested, only to be told by agents that 70% of the travel dates or flights I wanted were not discounted or there were no seats were left. Ergo, near complete waste of time and effort.
Mrs. MM scored a few tickets for a crew trip to Singapore, which we saved some $30 each over internet prices, but frankly, I had sent my managers in Cebu to the Silkair office and they ended up with far better deals on flights, and in the comfort of the Silkair office with less than a 30 minute wait! So take note, Silkair and Singapore airlines deals in their offices until the end of the month are a VERY GOOD THING.
So in case you were thinking of investing a chunk of your Valentine’s Day or Sunday at the PTAA Travel Expo, don’t bother. You would do nearly as well to book advance tickets on PAL and other airlines for trips from August onwards online (the prices are very similar to special offers) while tickets before July that are discounted are few and far between.
If flying to Europe or the States, the prices were some 30-35% HIGHER than last year’s deals, so there weren’t any great deals on those routes either. With the new route to New York on PAL, their economy fare of $930+ or so is about $200 cheaper than on-line, but their business class fares were outrageously high. Considering everyone is bragging about having removed fuel surcharges due to plummeting oil prices, tickets this year seem 30+% more than last year.
So after 9.5 hours total at the fair, I figured I saved about PHP10,000 max on 14 flight segments vs. internet prices last night. Or that means I earned savings of roughly PHP900 per hour for standing in line and starving myself while suppressing the urge to find a urinal.
But if you insist on going… here is Marketman’s tip of the day. All travel agents at the fair can book the lower PAL fares. So don’t bother waiting 3 hours at PAL when some of the less busy agents can book you the same ticket for a small fee. It’ll save you a lot of time. And if you want to go just to browse booths of specific destinations like Japan, Korea, South Africa, etc. and just pick up brochures and timetables, then head there later in the day…
This will definitely be the first and the last time I will ever line up for this travel fair again. But I will keep my eyes out for specials from individual airlines at their own offices in future. It seems many top airlines didn’t bother to participate in this fair, and I can totally see why. SAVE YOURSELF THE HASSLE. DON’T BOTHER.