Tales from the 2012 Travel Expo

18 February 2012

This was my first visit to the Travel Tour Expo which started yesterday and will run until tomorrow. I was hoping to compare the cost of airline tickets at the event with those sold online.

We arrived at the SMX Convention Center slightly before 10 AM and the line to the entrance had already stretched all the way outside and was at least four people deep. So we decided to eat first and by the time we entered the venue 30 minutes later, the place was packed especially where the local airline carriers were located - Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific, Airphil Express, etc.

Our first stop was PAL and it's a good thing my mother-in-law was with me as the queue for senior citizens was much shorter. As to the prices, I will first have to mention a few things:

- PAL kept reminding people over the loudspeakers that their promo rates are also available with accredited travel agents at the expo so no need to line up just with PAL.

- Expo rates are only valid for two to three months so for those staying longer, no promo.

Though for my mother-in-law who's going to Los Angeles (LAX) from Apr 28 to Oct 25 (six-month valid ticket), there was a small USD 68 difference:

Price online - USD 1484 WITHOUT the Php 1620 travel tax.
Price at the expo - USD 1453 WITH the Php 1620 travel tax.

For those planning to take advantage of the discounted rates, here are the sample fares:

MNL-LAX-MNL - departing MNL Mar 1 to 28:
USD 1025 - 3 months valid
USD 925 - 2 months valid

MNL-LAX-MNL - departing MNL Apr 8 to Aug 31:
USD 1235 - 3 months valid
USD 1085 - 2 months valid

All rates inclusive of airline taxes EXCEPT the Php 1620 Philippine travel tax.

If you buy a ticket online right now, the lowest fare available is USD 1085.90 for March 7-31 without the Philippine travel tax. That's a difference of at least USD 161 - that is if your dates are flexible.

I also picked up a flyer from Cathay Pacific (CX):

I found this interesting because when we were shopping around for December tickets to LAX last year, the cheapest fare we could find was either on China Southern and EVA Airways for roughly USD 915 to USD 1200. I've just checked online and CX is USD 941.50 for Dec 15, 2012 to Jan 4, 2013 but one would need to buy the ticket immediately. Even then, I'm thinking that's not bad as I prefer CX to the other two aforementioned airlines.

Actually, our first priority is PAL because it's a direct flight but at USD 1179.90 online for the same dates, that's a difference of Php 10,250 per passenger. Considering there will be two of us travelling, that Php 20,500 can be used for shopping instead.

There were also booths from different countries such as Japan, India, Thailand, etc. I got brochures from the Hong Kong Tourism Board along with an updated city map. Based on my experience, it's so much easier to plan a trip with an actual map and it will prevent you from wasting a lot of time criss-crossing the place if your itinerary is planned accordingly.

So is it worth going to expo? Yes if you have a specific destination in mind and you've done your research beforehand.

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