Japan, Traveling on a Budget

The Madness of Airline Seat Sales

Consider this madness:

You wake up in the middle of the night, in cold sweat — full of anticipation. Without turning on your bedroom light, you reach for the iPhone tucked behind your pillow and surreptitiously check the Facebook feeds for some bit of good news. And then you see it. You flip out, almost step on your snoring husband in your haste to get to the bedside stand and get your passport and credit card. You sweat in agony over a few clicks, consider dates and times, check the final cost reflected in the screen then pray to the Gods of Travel that may your card have enough funds to consider the purchase.

That–my friends–is pure madness. And also the exact description of how crazy I must have looked like two days ago when I woke up unreasonably at the unGodly hour of 3 in the morning–as per habit, I reached for my iPhone, scrolled to the Feed and saw that my constant means of budget travel has just announced a new airline seat sale covering ALL destinations, including Tokyo.

My poor husband — I must have looked like a woman deranged when I shot up of our bed and grabbed the laptop to check the airline’s website.

99 (USD2.50) bucks for tickets to your dream destination!

99 (USD2.50) bucks for tickets to your dream destination!

In my head, I had but one goal: book that damned ticket already!

I don’t know in your part of the world on how seat sale works, but in my country — scoring a cheap ticket is akin to finding the Holy Grail — not impossible but at the risk of your sanity. Cebu Pacific, the country’s largest air carrier, is known for its price drops and PHP0 fare seat sales. Literally, the Queen My Sister and I were able to go to different Asian countries (Seoul and Taipei, in particular) due to the cheap rates that this company offers. Cebu Pacific is also instrumental in changing the mindset of Filipinos about flying. Whereas before when Filipinos view air travel as something that only the rich folks do, Cebu Pacific made air travel accessible to every Filipino due to its low rates. That’s why Pinoy travel buffs like me monitor this carrier’s news feeds like as if we were monitoring the birth of our future children: intensively and seriously.

But the low rates also has a trade off. Again, it’s like going on a quest to find the Holy Grain. Price drops are usually announced at midnight when every body is supposed to be sleeping. Seats are of course, limited so unless you start your booking at a very ungodly hour, do not expect for get a truly cheap fare to wherever you are going. Because usually what happens is that your outbound flight might be available for a low fare (for example) but your inbound flight for the date that you prefer might cost you your arm and your big toe on your left foot. It would take a lot of magic, praying and tenacity for you to find a Return flight that is just okay — inbound AND outbound.

The PHP99 ticket fares are of course, exclusive of tax and all the other additional costs. In the end, my final cost was at PHP6,000 for a return trip bound for Tokyo. Yes, that’s PHP5,101 worth of taxes! The rate also does not contain your payment for travel insurance, seat selection, meals and additional baggage fees. Basically, everything to make flying in a highly pressurized tube more comfortable for us mere mortals with tiny wallets and humongous wanton for traveling.

However, the PHP6,000 return trip is still eons away from the normal cost of a return trip ticket to Tokyo, pegged from PHP25,000 to PHP30,000. For budget travelers, this is still heaven sent.

Bottom line: I finally had my tickets. I can finally move on with my life and start my novena for successful visa issuance.

Japan, Travel Diaries

Cramming for Japan

Hello, sorry for being out of touch for the longest time. As mentioned in my other blog “KamikazeeGirl’s Guide to…,” December has been quite tiring and draining for me. A relative got sick and the task of taking care of him (both physically and financially) fell on our family’s shoulders. Add to the fact that I was working myself sick until the last day of the year and now, I am paying dearly for it (writing this blog while on my sick bed — coughs and a bad bout with flu has finally caught up with me).

This planned Japan trip for my birthday is making me crazy. It’s just five months to go before the planned trip and I still don’t have tickets. Mostly because the money for the tickets (bonus money and all the other savings I have socked off) went to helping the relative. I know, it’s a bummer — part of me was still mourning losing all that cash, but I knew that I used the money to help save a life. The end part makes me feel better, but nonetheless still bummed because all I could think of is how I will get to Japan on my birthday.

I already checked the ticket costs and it’s about PHP25,000 (about 600USD). Right now, I have about USD300 saved up but I know it’s not enough. My only hope is the forthcoming TravelTour Expo happening in February where tickets will be selling for less than USD600. I gotta buy my tickets on that day otherwise, the latest I’ll be able to go will be in November — waaaay past my birthday.

For those in Manila and interested to buy cheap travel tickets, packages or hotel stays, The PTAA Travel Tour Expo is scheduled from February 14 to 16, 2014 and is usually held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City (the trade hall right beside the behemoth that is the Mall of Asia). Tickets usually go for PHP50 or about USD1.20. I have attended its last two events (2012 and 2013) but didn’t purchased anything. But lines usually for airlines are the longest and most chaotic probably because every one is trying to snap a deal.

More information can be found at their Facebook page.

Hopefully, I’ll have my tickets available by mid-February, please keep your fingers crossed for me. For now, all I can do is build up my nest egg and hope to have enough money to show the embassy when I apply for my tourist visa.