Friday, February 17, 2012

19th Travel Tour Expo 2012 at SMX (Day 1)

Last year, hubby and I attended the Travel Tour Expo 2011. We were able to book roundtrip tickets to Los Angeles via Continental Airlines for US$860 all-in. We could choose any date we wanted to so we got tickets for travel during the height of summer vacation, when plane tickets normally cost a lot more. Continental has merged with United Airlines since then so now all flights are branded as United and handled by United. Since we were so happy and satisfied with our experience, we decided to pay the 19th Travel Tour Expo 2012 a visit today, which is day 1.

Hubby and I were at the SM Mall of Asia a little before 10am. There was already a looooong line of cars queued up for the SMX parking area and so we opted to park at the mall. Instead of lining up with the rest of the crowd outside SMX, we proceeded to the bridgeway on the second floor where the line was much shorter.

The doors to the exhibit opened by 10am. We had to buy entrance tickets for P50 each. There were already a lot of people during that first hour.

We walked around and checked the various booths. As usual, the Philippine Airlines (PAL) booth was totally swamped. They have standees which promise big discounts but I find them to be very misleading. We asked them what the cheapest special expo rate was for roundtrip tickets to Los Angeles was and it was US$925 valid for travel from Sept. 1-15, 2012 only. Otherwise, everything is over US$1000+. Ooookay. No idea why there are always long and criss-crossing lines for the PAL booth during every travel expo. This was the case last year too.

Singapore Airlines is offering Manila-Singapore-Manila tickets for US$199 all-in if you book at the expo. You can use them for travel until June 2012.

Anyhow, we checked out the United booth trying to see if there are any good deals for Guam. The good news is, you can go on a 3D/2N trip to Guam (inclusive of airfare via United Airlines + accommodations) from May 7-31, 2012 starting at US$350+ depending on which participating hotel you choose. The most expensive option costs US$500+ all-in. We wanted a Guam trip for Christmas though since we're already booked for Korea this summer.

I overheard some people asking the Guam tourism folks if it's easier to secure a US visa if you're just going to Guam. They said something vague like yeah it shouldn't be too hard. Let me just say that IT'S THE SAME. Guam can be used as a port of entry to the US so there's NOTHING different about the entire US visa application procedure or the chances for approval.

Since there were so many people and we weren't really that gung-ho about booking something, we decided to leave after making a round. What we noticed:

  • Deals are mostly for travel during the upcoming summer months or lean months like September. We were trying to advance book something for Christmas vacation but no one was offering anything for the last quarter of the 2012.
  • There are also deals for local trips but we didn't bother checking them out since we like vacationing in places with a cooler climate compared to the Philippines.
  • There's a line at almost every major airline booth. I was actually #15 when I arrived at the United Airlines booth and they were serving #6 when I got my number.
  • Special expo rates can be availed of by booking right then and there. Bring your credit card just to be sure.
The 19th Travel Tour Expo 2012 is ongoing from Feb. 17-19, 2012 at the SMX Convention Center. Doors open by 10am and close by 8pm.


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