Say yes to travel deals, no to travel scams

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Oct 21 2019 08:51 AM

Piso fares changed the travel landscape in the Philippines and that’s great news for every Juan and Juana.

But the truth is there is no such thing as a Piso fare, not after you add all the fees and surcharges to your ticket. Then there are all the NONS – from non-rebookable to non-refundable to non-transferrable, and you can just feel the noose tightening around your neck. When traveling for a vacation, the last thing you want is to get mired in all these pesky and potentially expensive details.

So before you click on that amazing travel deal, make sure you have done your homework.

#1 Promo Price Versus Net Price.

Remember the days when you would stay in front of your computer to catch that Piso fare? That was a great hook that made one airline company quite rich but take note that there are other fees you will need to pay. With Piso fares from Cebu Pacific Air, they will likely add an administrative fee, fuel surcharge, passenger service fee, safety and security charge and a passenger service charge. 

It’s the same thing with the national carrier, Philippine Airlines, where you will pay the promotional fare plus a Q surcharge, fuel/insurance surcharge, passenger service charge, and passenger security charge among others. We checked AirAsia and their taxes and fees cover service charge, processing service and arrival and departure fees.

Expect the Promo Price to be low enough to hook you, but the Net Price will be the one you are paying for. Net Price is simply the value at which a product or service is sold after all taxes and other costs are added and all discounts subtracted. You would be surprised how the Net Price can sometimes be as high as 1,000 percent more than the Promo Price so do the math.

#2 The Devil is Really in the Details.

Beyond the price, check for the terms and conditions of the ticket. If your travel plans are months away, anything can happen so it would be good to know if you can rebook, transfer the ticket for use of another passenger, or get a refund.

These pesky details can cost you and make a huge dent on your travel budget. Most travel deals are low cost because they are non-refundable, or non-rebookable, or non-transferrable. Some tickets are also tagged as non-endorsable, meaning it’s valid for travel only on the carrier which issued it.

#3 Ask for What’s Free with your Ticket.

With low-cost carriers, you may discover that there’s nothing else. That means no meals on board, plus you have to pay for baggage allowance, even for choosing seats ahead of the flight.

But it never hurts to ask and you can better compare fares when you know all the ticket inclusions. Maybe one ticket will cost a bit more but it comes with free two pieces of check-in baggage and a hot meal so when you add these to the “cheaper” ticket, that one comes out to be more expensive. Book smart so you can save money for the rest of your trip.

#4 Beware Where You Buy Too.

The wonder of the internet means you can go to some websites and they will compare the airfares for you. Skyscanner.com is one of them and I like how I just need to type in my travel dates, number of passengers, class we want to fly and I get so many choices. One can then choose the flights they want and then they will be redirected to another site to book it.

But that’s when you need to be more careful. Don’t trust a travel website just because it offers the best deal. Many scam sites mimic major travel companies’ branding and will look familiar to you. Check the URL as scam sites use “domain spoofing” tricks such as adding an extra letter in the address. Avoid booking on a site that doesn’t have “https://” at the beginning of the URL. If there’s no “s” at the end, it’s not a secure site.

Always better to be safe than sorry so my recommendation would be to book on the airline’s official website, or stick to reputable travel agents. 

#5 Check for Verified Reviews (and Learn from Others).

The World Wide Web is also filled with reviews, people who want to share their experiences both good and bad. The trick is to stick with verified reviews because let’s face it, if there are fake news, there are also fake reviews.

Before any online purchase, search for what you are buying then add “review,” “complaint” or “scam” to see if others had bad experience. Do this especially with first-time bookings so there will be no painful surprises later on. Thanks to some verified reviews, I have saved a great deal of money and redeemed coupon codes and many other travel hacks.

#6 Pay with Plastic for Additional Rewards and Free Protection.

I am not a fan of paying with a credit card but this is one of those expenses where you may come out ahead by using the plastic currency. Some credit cards offer free travel insurance which means you won’t need to shell out for that. Some also allow you to dispute transactions within 30 days so in case of problems with the airline, you have better chances of getting your money back. 

Then there are rewards you earn just for swiping the card, from cash rebates to air miles. If you’re lucky, some credit cards also offer travel rebates for specific periods and that can earn you extra.

Paying with cash or debit card will mean greater exposure for you – you are parting with your money well ahead of using the service, and in case of issues, may find it much harder to get all your money back, even just some of it.

#7 Confirm Travel Plans (Especially as Dates Draw Near).

After you made the reservation on a travel website or with a travel agent, call the airline to confirm your reservation. If they don’t have a record, that’s a problem you would do best to solve before you start packing.

Even the most careful of consumers can get scammed and the best defense is to stay informed. If you paid with a credit card, contact your issuer right away to cancel the charge. Or if you found the reservation but it was not what you thought you were getting, again, make the changes so your vacation will be just that – a time away to leave behind everyday worries.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.