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Air Tickets To The Philippines

Consolidators A few years ago I learned that the cheapest way to buy tickets here in the USA, on an Asian carrier into the RP, is through consolidators. There are a number of reasons for this (which could be the subject of a different thread). Suffice it to say, this is done by design and with the full support of the carriers.

In the course of conversation with PAL's US based reservation office, I asked them which consolidators they recommend. They provided me with the following names:

A and A - (213) 365-7090
Citi Tours - (213) 487-1227
Leisure Life (213) 385-0131

Some travel agents claim to be consolidators, when in effect, they're not. They buy their tickets from one of the above "official" consolidators, and add their own commission (so you're paying two commissions, or mark-ups).

Please keep in mind that some consolidators specialize in one particular airline, as opposed to others. So Agent "A" maybe be the best to use for Philippine Airlines (PAL,) but "B" may be better for Cathay, KAL, Asiana etc.,. Shop around until you find the best Consolidator for your preferred carrier.

Lastly, the observation was made that PAL tends to be the most expensive. In my experience over the years, this is 100% correct. I also use them +95% of the time for a couple of reasons. (1) They're the only airline that flies nonstop between the USA and Manila. 100% of the time the MNL/LAX flight is nonstop. About 1/3 of the time, the LAX/MNL leg is nonstop. (2) Their schedule works best for cross country connections, and I like the early morning Manila arrival. (3) Their Mabuhay Miles Reward Program is fabulous. For top-level, frequent fliers you're virtually assured of an upgrade to the next class of service EVERY time you fly. So while the economy ticket might be nominally more expensive, it's actually a steal if you think of it as purchasing a Business Class ticket for the cost of an economy seat.

Each traveler has their own circumstances to consider, but for me it's a no-brainer. Worth the extra USD$100 - $150 each and every time.

Contributed by Bob Seller



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