Monday, July 4, 2011

Getting a Cebu Pacific Ticket for Palawan

Choosing a honeymoon destination was something that came up on the agenda soon after getting engaged in April last year. In some ways it seemed like more of a thing to look forward to than the actual wedding.

It should be somewhere new and exciting, as me and my then-fiancee are both game for adventure. But also somewhere relaxing to unwind after what surely would be an hectic run-up to a big wedding.

Singapore was an early contender, as we've both never been there before. And it seems like a trip to Singapore is just something people do at our age when they have the energy and the money. But going abroad seems to have its risks, and puts too much pressure on me to see all the sights in a short period of time.

Eventually we settled on Palawan, with its reputation of being the Philippines' final frontier, and its untamed but pristine beaches providing the right mix of excitement and relaxation we were looking for.

Booking a cheap Cebu Pacific ticket

Way back in August 2010, long before we had started to draft a honeymoon itinerary (or even begin to think about it seriously), Loren excitedly contacted me saying that there was yet another Cebu Pacific dirt-cheap ticket sales.

I have no idea how Cebu Pacific is able to sell plane tickets so cheaply. You can look at the payment breakdown on the emailed ticket-- at the most extreme, they pretty much get no revenue from this. They basically give out a limited number of these seats for free, to whoever can race their way through the online booking system fastest.

Now, me, I'm always wary of these promos. Booking tickets that far in advance has often not worked out well for me as plans change, and the cost of rebooking a ticket is usually ridiculous. But it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement when you realize what a bargain it could be. Also, these are seats in demand-- spend too much time thinking about it and you lose your chance.

So, with no research about our destination whatsoever, we decided we could go to Palawan on a Monday morning (two days after our wedding), spend four nights there, and return to Manila on Friday afternoon.

Boom. Five minutes later we have a round trip ticket from Manila to Puerto Princesa for P750 ($17.50)-- for TWO PEOPLE. Cheaper than dirt.

Booking the expensive Cebu Pacific ticket

Fast forward to April 2011, when we actually start to think about what we're going to be doing with our time in Palawan. The capital, Puerto Princesa, is the definitive entry point on the island, but all the reviews say that the real highlight is in El Nido, a grueling 8 hour bus ride away to the north. Our new plan is for 3 nights in Puerto Princesa, and 3 nights in El Nido. It is clear that the originally planned return trip ticket is unusable.

But our ticket actually going to Palawan is still good, right? Well. No. The thing is, although our Palawan trip would still be starting on that day and would require flying from Manila to Puerto Princesa, we're actually coming from Dumaguete. The original idea was that we would buy a Dumaguete-Manila ticket separately, but as it turns out, the gap in time between the arrival of the scheduled Dumaguete-Manila flight and the departure of the Manila-Puerto Princesa flight is just 50 minutes-- not enough time to get to the check-in counter.

After a frustrating call to Cebu Pacific's customer service representative, I was resigned to the fact that the only way to do this would be to buy an all new ticket for Dumaguete-Manila-Puerto Princesa, and the original Manila-Puerto Princesa ticket was unusable as well.

The result

So much for the cheap Cebu Pacific promo fare. But you only get one honeymoon, right? This is as an appropriate time as any to bite the bullet. Total damage:

June 20: Dumaguete - Manila - Puerto Princesa (for 2)
PHP 11,027.52

June 26: Puerto Princesa - Manila (for 2)
PHP 6,639.36

Totally worth it.


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