It’s true that the world of travel is shrouded with uncertainty. No matter how well you plan and prepare, sometimes things change and it can be very frustrating dealing with change fees. On domestic carriers like Delta and American airlines, passengers can pay changes fees at around $200 per ticket and for international flights, it can reach up to $450.
Without knowing the fare rules, you can be at the mercy of the airlines and I would suggest you speak to your travel agent to find out your options. Here are some tips when trying to avoid those fees and saving some serious money.
- Free Cancellations – Depending on where you purchase your tickets, you may be able to cancel your ticket out right with no reason at all. Most tickets come with a free cancellation policy in which you cancel with a penalty with 4-24 hours from the time you purchased the ticket. If you are working with a travel agent, they can often times waive cancellation fees to accommodate your requests and rebook your ticket.
- Buy travel insurance – A wide range of insurance is now available to purchase which you can even cancel for any reason at all (75% trip cancellation), however insurance can now cover change fees to give more value to their plans. Travel Insured and Roamright both have great plans that offer reimbursement for covered reasons when you make changes to your flight.
- Making Changes the Day of – If you want to fly out early or later that day ad you are on a domestic itinerary, you can go to the airport and request to see if there is space available. U.S. carriers usually charge around $50-$75 per person to make those type of moves. Be weary, because it all depends on availability. TIP: About 15% of travelers cancel or change their flights which can leave open spaces on flights. To maximize space and minimize waste, airlines will commonly overbook flights. If your flight is overbooked, you can volunteer and receive compensation including the full value of your ticket and rebook for a later date.
- One way tickets – Looking for promotional fares can be a great way to save as long as you are flexible. Travelers can avoid paying change fees by purchasing one way fares and booking their flight as needed. Remember when purchasing one way tickets, you run the risk of paying two change fees. If the cost of the ticket is less than the penalty doubled in price, you always purchase a round trip ticket. It will save you money in the end.
- Buy refundable tickets – If you know for a fact that you will need the flexibility when you travel, you can opt to purchase a refundable ticket which allows you free changes. Keep in mind that these fares are usually double the price of nonrefundable tickets and are primarily bought by corporate travelers.
- Check for Changes to your Flight – Even the airlines can make changes to the flight details which can help you avoid change fees. Wait until the end and watch out for any delays, cancellations, extra layover, or even weather related issues can cause the airlines to waive their fees. You never know what issue they may have and with a little help, you can save your money for another day. If all fails, you might have to make a scene, but it never hurts to try.
- Go Southwest or Alaska Airlines – Southwest is the only domestic airline that does not charge cancellation or change fees. Alaska Airline also has a lenient policy allowing you to avoid fees if your flight is changed canceled within 60 days of your flight.
For many Filipinos, returning to our native homeland has been out of reach because of time and budget, however with the influx of competitive rates, many more Filipinos have been able to fly home more consistently. With the growing number of Asian and Middle Eastern carriers to expand their routes to the Philippines, many players such as Korean Airlines and Delta Airlines have begun to lose their market share which in turn has caused competition and allowed airfare prices to drop. Today, Filipinos can enjoy an assortment of choices to travel to the Philippines and we have benefited with more affordable prices.
Although we are able to select different airlines based on itineraries, service and added benefits, many travelers ask me, “When is it the best time to fly to the Philippines?’. Here are a few tips to consider when planning your next trip.
From January to March and also from September to November, you will normally find some of the best deals to Manila from the U.S. Children are in school and the majority of travelers wait until the summer to fly back home. Most of the airlines begin promoting special rates and lower fares to attract passengers to book early. Keep in mind during these months, promotional fares usually run 4-5 days before they expire. Have your tentative dates and be ready to book as soon as these amazing deals begin to run.
Like many top destinations, the high season for travel is during the summer months between May – August. Most people prefer to travel with their families and wait to travel all together. Usually rates during these months can range between $1,200 – $2,000 per traveler. The demand for flights are high and if you have specific dates, I would recommend booking at least 3-4 months in advance to avoid price hikes. Waiting to purchase your tickets within 2 months will limit your choices and expect to seats to be limited. During the Christmas season, expect even higher prices due to the holidays. If you plan to travel between December 15 to January 15, don’t expect to see any promotions without sacrificing with longer layovers or multiple stops.
Avoiding Holy Week
Consequently to avoid paying higher fares, traveling at the end of March through the beginning of April, specifically around Holy Week is a no-no. Since the Philippines is predominantly a Catholic country and the festivities surrounding this religious time can create a high demand on balikbayans traveling back home. It will be difficult finding affordable prices during the Easter holiday.
Finding fares within your Budget
If you are trying to stay within a certain budget, consider a couple of tips to help you minimize the cost.
- Be flexible – Airline prices are based on availability which means that depending on the number seats available on a flight, prices will fluctuate daily. If you do not have a set time to travel, advise your travel agent and they can find the best deals 2-3 days before and after your preferred dates.
- Avoid weekends – Leaving on Friday – Sunday may be convenient to maximize your time, but you will end up paying more when leaving on these days. Midweek rates are fare more cheaper especially if you leave/ return on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
- Don’t be afraid to try a new airline – With the Manila market exploding with competition, many international carriers are offering lower fares to Manila to gain a piece of the market. These rates are more reasonable and can save you a lot of money. Airlines like Emirates, Etihad, EVA Airways and Air China have some amazing deals while providing superior service.