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Travel Hacks and Tips

11 Hacks to Book Cheap Flights in the Philippines

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Do you agree that “promo fare is life”? If yes, then you should definitely read this guide about booking cheap flights to/within the Philippines!

Several years ago, flight costs are almost doubled than it is today. One of the interesting things I hear from veteran backpackers is that they used to shell out P7-12,000 for a single round-trip domestic flight. Nowadays, with the travel industry growing and the rise of budget airlines, traveling to/across the Philippines is now more accessible.

Whether you’re a local Juan or a foreign traveler, here are hacks you can use to score cheap tickets for traveling to/across the Philippines!

1. Fly budget airlines

Filipinos are lucky because we have two budget airlines that offer affordable flights: Cebu Pacific and AirAsia. These airlines are not only cheaper than full-service airline, they also hold frequent promos. However, keep in mind that they may charge extra for things like baggage, seat selection, and other fees.

Cebu Pacific promos include the popular Piso Fare Promo for P1 base fare and the Cebu Pacific Superpass for P99, which covers domestic flights. The Superpass can be used anywhere in the Philippines and it is convenient to book, since you can pay for multiple people and multiple passes at once!

Cebu Pacific Superpass
Cebu Pacific Superpass.

For other countries in Southeast Asia, here are the budget airlines that you should consider:

  • Jetstar
  • Scoot
  • Hong Kong Express
  • Jeju Air
  • Peach Air
  • VietJet Air
  • Tigerair Taiwan
  • Nok Air

2. Stalk airlines on social media

Keep yourself updated on upcoming Piso Fares and other promos by following the social pages of major airlines in the country: Cebu Pacific, Airasia and Philippine Airlines (PAL).

In Facebook, one way to make sure you are always getting the latest update is to change your following setting: Go to the airline’s page, click the Following button in the upper navigation bar, and select In Your NewsFeed > See First.

3. Sign up as a member in airlines’ websites

Many airlines offer exclusive discounts and deals to their newsletter subscribers. You may also get a chance to book a day ahead of scheduled promo periods. For instance, Big Members are often given a 24-hour advanced access in Airasia’s seatsales before it becomes available to the public.

Sign up for the newsletters of airlines that fly to the Philippines to receive these offers.

4. Browse in incognito mode

Don’t you wonder why rates in an airline’s website jack up by your second visit? Airline websites keep cookies (i.e., data of your visit) and if it seems you’re interested in a particular route/schedule, it automatically increases the rate on your subsequent visits.

To enable incognito mode, here are the keys you should click:

  • Google Chrome: Ctrl + Shift + N
  • Mozilla Firefox Or Microsoft Edge: Control (or Command) + Shift + P
  • Safari: click “Safari” in the menu bar and select “Private Browsing.”

This trick is something that I personally tried after I realized the rates have immediately changed after my initial search in an airline’s page. I opened a new incognito tab and compared the prices and indeed there’s a few hundred pesos difference.

5. Book solo

If you’re in a group, you might want to book the tickets separately. The reason is that airlines only have limited slots for discounted seats for a particular flight. If you search flights for 1 person, you’ll get better chances of finding promo fares compared to searching for 2+ people.

6. Book during red-eye hours

Airplane aisle

The best time to book is between 1AM and 4AM because fewer people are up during this time.

7. Be flexible with your travel dates

If you can be flexible with your travel dates, you can save a lot of money. Flights tend to be cheaper during weekdays and off-peak seasons.

Moreover, early morning flights (6AM or earlier) and late night flights (10PM or past) are less expensive compared to other schedules of the day. This is because a lot of people are not willing to get to the airport during these hours so demand is lower.

Personally, I prefer these schedules because not only do I save on ticket costs, I also get more time to explore the destination I’ll be traveling to.

8. Book connecting flights

If you’re traveling from the Philippines to countries outside of Southeast Asia, you may want to consider booking connecting flights instead of direct flights. Connecting flights are cheaper, as long as you’re willing to ensure a long layover.

Some airlines create connecting flights automatically for you, like AirAsia.

9. Keep your baggage to 7kg limit

Budget airlines are a great option for backpackers. You can spend as little as P700-2000 for a flight, but only if you’re bringing a carry-on luggage (max 7kg), not checked-in. If you avail of excess baggage you’ll find that the overall price tends to go up quickly.

Some travelers try to sneak their way past this restriction, but a lot of times the airline staff actually take the time to weigh your luggage especially if it looks too heavy.

Budget airlines make their money thru add-ons including excess baggage, flight meals, seat selection, and more, so it makes sense that these have premium prices.

tl;dr Go for a budget airline if you only have carry-on luggage, but if you’re bringing excess baggage you might want to go for a mid-range airline where you’ll be more comfortable, with little difference in price.

10. Secure a fast internet connection

This is something I don’t often see in articles about tips on booking cheap flights in the Philippines.

In one of Cebu Pacific’s past piso sale, the website was mostly be inaccessible due to massive traffic. Hali (and even several of my friends) weren’t able to book, but I was able to search and book flights smoothly. The difference? Hali was on a poor internet connection while I was having at a minimum 30-mbps WIFI.

11. Use your credit card miles

Using a credit card is one the least talked-about hacks on booking cheap flights in the Philippines. If you’re a frequent credit card user, you can use your miles to slash prices off regular airline fare or even score free airline tickets. Aside from miles points, credit cards may also give you free airport lounge access and other promos and rewards like dining and shopping discounts, as well as e-gift cards.

If you don’t have a credit card yet, some of the best credit cards for frequent fliers you should consider applying for are Metrobank Travel Platinum Card, UnionBank Cebu Pacific Gold Credit Card, Security Bank Platinum Mastercard, and HSBC Platinum Visa Rebate Credit Card.

That’s it. What are your tips for booking cheap flights in the Philippines? Share them below!

What to read next:

Planning a trip to the Philippines? Check out these guides!


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