Since Philippine Fashion Week has just officially ended, we remember it was also during Fashion Week that we first travelled together. That was Hong Kong Fashion Week 5 years back. We never really thought that we’d be travel buddies. In fact we hated each other the first time! Haha!!
But what made this trip so memorable is the scam that was BANATE TOURS AND TRAVEL. Our school organized everything for us in cooperation with Banate Tours and Travel. (What a name! We just have to say it again!) We actually preferred to arrange the bookings by ourselves but then our school said we have to be under their supervision so they must take care of everything.
We paid them USD200 for airfare and accommodation. It was too good to be true, we know, but since there were around 20 of us, we thought the agency gave us a really good discount. The day before the flight, they suddenly asked for an additional USD100 each! That short notice got us thinking that something’s not right. Still, we paid and waited for our tickets and vouchers the rest of the day, only to go home empty-handed. We’re told to just show up early morning for our flight in NAIA Terminal 2.
On the day of the flight, we got our tickets. But, still no hotel vouchers!! WTH! We sensed that something was really up but our teacher assured us that everything’s okay (although we can see the worry in her face). When we arrived at HKIA, no one was there to pick us up. Our teacher called the agent from Banate and we were told to wait. We spent the WHOLE DAY waiting at the airport and of course, that got us impatient. So, we moved our asses together and came up with another plan. Because it’s already clear to us that we got duped by Banate, we called our agent back home (without our teacher’s knowledge) to find us a hotel. Luckily our agent was able to get us a room at the hotel right across the HK Exhibition & Convention Center. It was hard to find hotel rooms last-minute at that time of the year because it was fashion week, so even if it’s pricey, we just had to give it a go. We ended up paying (last-minute, take note! ughh!) a total of almost PHP50k for our 3-night stay. Just for one room! Good thing there were 4 of us who shared. As for our teacher and other classmates, they ended up looking for hotels, luggage in tow. Some spent one night here, another night there. As for Banate, they got sued by our school and it took them quite a few months before they were able to give us a USD150 refund each.
Apparently, Banate Tours and Travel got sued many times over. Just Google "Banate Travel" and find out.