Does NAIA give a crap?

I saw a piece of news over this past weekend that was rather shocking to me.

Apparently, a website called the Guide to Sleeping in Airports did a survey recently.  In this survey, Manila’s International Airport, NAIA or Ninoy Aquino International Airport, was ranked as the 5th worst airport in the world.  Honestly, I am surprised that out of major airports, it ranked that well.  Other airports that I thought would have ranked much better actually beat out NAIA for being worse.

Planes are flying
Planes are flying

The worst airports in the world, according to readers of this site were:

  1. Paris CDG
  2. Paris Beauvais
  3. Moscow SVO
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Manila NAIA
  6. New Delhi
  7. Chicago O’Hare
  8. Bombay
  9. London Luton
  10. New York JFK

Now, let’s concentrate in on Manila NAIA, since this site is about the Philippines.  Here are some of the featured comments about NAIA:

“It has to be experienced to be believed. Think of a bombed out ruin and you’ll get some idea. It’s like a cattle yard only worse. Toilets filthy. No seating once you get thru customs (maybe 40 seats for a thousand passengers).” – Brenty

“Bribery and corruption in this airport is rife and the scams start the minute you walk off the plane” – Mecanix

“The transfer desk is a joke, everything is designed around you exiting thru customs, so you have to pay the airport user fee (bribe) to catch a connecting flight. I travel to Asia for my job and took the routing thru Manila due to a last minute booking to save some money, big mistake……” – PaulJ

No Toilet Paper
No Toilet Paper

So, as I said, I saw a news article the other day that lead me to this survey.  The article was in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and it focused on the toilet situation in NAIA.  According to the article, Jose Angel Honrado, the General Manager of the Manila International Airport Authority said:

“What we can promise to our traveling public is that within two to three months all our toilets will be fully equipped with toilet paper and soap,” Honrado said.

And, he vowed, broken plumbing will be fixed, and there’ll be running water.

He said his agency had been renovating lavatories in Terminal 1, and had finished work on seven to eight sets of male and female restrooms out of 17.

OK, so they are going to put toilet paper and soap into the bathrooms.  So, to me that means that they are acknowledging that there is no toilet paper or soap in the bathrooms currently.  But… did you notice that it is going to take between 3 to 4 months for them to do this?  I can understand that fixing the plumbing or redoing the plumbing might take some time, especially since there are lots of bathrooms in an airport terminal, but to put toilet paper will take 3 months or more?  Come on, who are they kidding?  Think about this, if it will take 3 to 4 months to put toilet paper in the bathrooms, how will they be able to keep it stocked?  I mean, if they only have time to restock the toilet paper every 3 or 4 months, that means that in a day or two the bathroom will be without toilet paper again for another 3 or 4 months, when the workers get to restock it again.

Things like the plumbing should have been maintained over the years.  Surely, the toilets had running water when they were built, it was just a matter of maintaining the bathrooms over the years, and obviously that did not happen.  Why?  I am sure that the airports in Paris or Los Angeles have running water in the toilets, so why are they ranked even worse than NAIA?  Honestly, the last time I was in NAIA there was running water, but it is the General Manager of the Airport Authority who is saying that there is currently no running water in the airport toilets, so it comes from an authoritative source, I have to believe it.

No Soap
No Soap

For me, they should be able to put toilet paper and soap in the bathrooms today.  No fuss, just get it done.  Instead of giving a deadline 4 months out to fix the plumbing, hire in a bunch of plumbers and get it done in a week.  Nothing short of that is reasonable.  People are coming in to NAIA from all over the world, and the Philippines needs to make a more positive impression on them than offering toilets with no running water!  This is just ridiculous, and must be addressed with great urgency.

I have written often on this site that in order to gain a foothold in the tourist market, the Philippines needs to address some rather basic issues.  Until I saw this article and comment from the General Manager of the Manila International Airport Authority, though, I had no idea of just how bad the problem has become.

Shame.  Shame.

Post Author: MindanaoBob (1354 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

How to Move to the Philippines Manual


  1. says

    “Think about this, if it will take 3 to 4 months to put toilet paper in the bathrooms, how will they be able to keep it stocked? ”
    Hehehehe….you made me laugh Bob. It’s really true….they have so many excuses. They even tried to excuse themselves that the site rating NAIA as the worst is a site geared for “sleeping passengers” only.
    I have a friend who was a victim of the immigration officials “bribery”….and how many times do they have to check the boarding pass before passing through your gate? Twice they did this, not counting the guard guarding the gate…and why do they have guards on each gate?
    The carpet is so worn-out and disgusting, few seats, and the floors are hideous esp. in the arrival area—it’s like being transported back to the 70’s.

    • says

      Hi bingkaycoy – How are you doing? Nice to hear from you. Yes, I saw that they tried to excuse the complaints by saying that they are not aiming for the sleeping passengers, etc… but there is really no excuse for the conditions that have been described and even acknowledged by NAIA authorities in the article. The guards were also demanding bribes? Inexcusable! It really needs an upgrade, and just to be maintained daily!

    • says

      Hi Andrew – How are you doing? I saw on Facebook that you have been traveling around Europe, I hope you are enjoying yourself. Not good to hear about your bad experiences at NAIA!

  2. Cy says

    I’m surprised the LA airport ranked worse than NAIA. I’ve been to LAX before and it’s definitely nothing fancy but compared to your description of NAIA, it sounds like luxury accomodations.

  3. Paul Thompson says

    Without water the tabo is useless also, just bring a coke in the “CAN” with you, and rinse off with that.
    Or could the Dept. of Tourism, be just letting you know, that this will be the way it is, in all bathroom while your here, so just get used to it.

  4. says

    NAIA is crap – but and this is my small piece of gold – whenever I fly out of NAIA I allways go to Club Manila at the 2nd floor and pay the 650 pessos for free food, drinks (alchol as well as non alcohol) and WI FI. I find Club Manila a good place to rest before your flight and makes NAIA shine just a little bit.

        • John Miele says

          Club Manila (Terminal 1) is just a pay lounge… A little less chaotic than the rest of the terminal. Worth the price if you have a long wait. (but the “free” food and drinks are normally a step above what you might feed a cat)

            • Christine says

              Hi Bob and John, I was going through Manila last December, coming back to Oz. Our flight had a 5 hour wait, having flown from Cebu hours earlier in case the unreliable Cebu Pacific runs late, then we won’t get left behind by our international flight. We got there on time, but had so much luggage. I enquired if there was anywhere safe we can leave our bags (for a fee of course) while we leave the terminal. We were going to pass time at Mall of Asia. Can you believe it, nowhere in the whole of the international airport provide this service, but there is in Mactan Island airport, a much smaller and less busier airport. Needless to say, we were stuck waiting at the terminal sitting anywhere because you can’t go into the main waiting lounge until you have checked in, which of course the airline would not allow you until 2 hours before flight. Pain in the read end, if I must say.

              • Papa Duck says


                Like your Gravatar Photo. Yes it is unbelieveable no where to store your personal items. Possibly good business opportunity lol. Have a nice day.

              • says

                You know what is interesting.. all of these things are things that can produce revenue for the MIAA. Put in restaurants and collect fees from the vendors. Put in lockers for personal item storage, and people pay to use them. They are missing a business opportunity, and pissing off travelers!

              • Christine says

                OOOppps, yes. I meant to say rear end Bob, I guess I was being inadvertently polite by saying read end. And thanks Papa Duck :) Well, yes indeed. Someone can start some sort of short term storage. If Mactan airport can, why not Manila?

              • John Miele says


                Storage lockers and left luggage facilities are disappearing fast in most airports and train stations due to terrorism threats. The whole bit startd in the 1970’s in the UK with the IRA planting bombs in those facilities.

                Some airports, like those in Japan, have installed xray equipment, but many airports, if they have them, are closing them up fast. I wouldn’t expect to see a return in the near future.

              • Anton says

                Lasery time we was on NAIA earlyer , we get in without problems ,
                gave our luggages to the airline [ 5 hours before depart ,
                but when we want to get out , IT WAS FORBIDDEN !
                Once you inside you cannot go out ,
                only to the plane .

              • says

                It doesn’t surprise me that they wouldn’t let you leave, given airport security these days. Once you check in your bags, they are very strict about letting you leave the airport.

              • Christine says

                Oh, ya right. It just takes one murderous organization to spoil everything for everybody, isn’t it? John, your comment reminded me of what my brother said to me when I asked why we could never find a rubbish bin at SM Mall in Cebu. His reply was, rubbish bins were being used to deposit bombs by terrorists/rebels, so management are minimizing their chances. But then you go to any toilets anywhere, there are always bins for tissues because people were encouraged not to flush their used tissues. OK. the latter could be another story altogether :)

  5. Neal in RI says

    I did not expect to hear of such bad conditions there at NAIA. I pretty much figured the Domestic Airport may be second rate but this is supposed to be the International Airport and you think they would want to give off a good first impression of the Philippines to arriving International travelers.
    It pretty much goes along with the way the Philippines does not promote the Philippines as a Tourist Destination.

    • says

      You are right, Neal, IMHO. The International Airport is the gateway to the Philippines and should shine! It should be a great welcome to those who are visiting the Philippines, especially those visiting for the first time. As it is now, though, based on the article and what the General Manager said, it is nothing but the same old thing… “Welcome to the Philippines: Here’s what you can expect here!”

      • says

        Depends on which “domestic terminal” you are talking about. The real domestic airport is certainly not new or nice. The NAIA Terminal 2 which PAL uses for domestic flights is quite nice.

        • Ken says

          Bob…the Club Manila sounds just right for our 10 HOUR layover. P650 is a paltry price to pay for some form of comfort. PAL international flights are in terminal 2. How far a jaunt will we encounter getting to terminal 1? Any pay lounges in the terminal 2 area that offer the same or similar conveniences? Thanks.

    • says

      Actually, the current Domestic terminal is quite nice … a totally a passable airport terminal. It’s the International terminal, Terminal 1 which sets new standards for shabbiness and filthy restrooms.

  6. says

    We tried to replace the paper, Sir Bob and Sir Paul, but it was out of stock ;-).

    It’s easy to hear people complain and listen to people’s tales of traveling irritations, but, indeed, if the general manager confirms the problem, you know it’s just not an idle exaggeration.

    Months to get toilet paper and soap? Sad. Pitiful. Even worse, very insulting. Consider this definition

    Passive–aggressive behavior, a personality trait, is passive, sometimes obstructionist resistance to following through with expectations in interpersonal or occupational situations. It is a personality trait marked by a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes and passive, usually disavowed resistance in interpersonal or occupational situations.

    It can manifest itself as learned helplessness, procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible.

    Can a whole country become afflicted with this disorder? I wonder, sometimes ….

    • says

      Hi Dave – I was really shocked by two things in the article:

      1. The General Manager seemingly confirmed that the place has fallen to crap.
      2. The General Manager personally said that it will take 3 to 4 months to put soap and toilet paper in the bathrooms.

      There is simply no excuse for either of those points above.

      • roy says

        Hi Bob, last Oct 2011 I went to the Phil for a visit. Directly adjacent to the carousel is the toilet that I used. Since I took pictures of the toilet in Incheon, I also took a pic of the toilet in NAIA. Certainly, there’s no comparison. If I can quantify it, NAIA is like 50 yrs behind the gleaming, luxurious Incheon. That said, what I noticed in that NAIA toilet is it looks like the common washroom of an aging Makati office except there’s a bidet, there’s water. I did not notice if there was a tissue. I think there was a liquid soap though. & there was also someone in there manning the toilet. You know, that sort of guy attending as you do your ablutions.

        Now may I copy paste here a portion of the news story you referred to?

        The Inquirer says “On the other hand, the lavatories in Terminal 2 and 3, weren’t broke, and, being in tip-top shape, needed no fixing, Honrado said.”

        I don’t think that the article admits that all bathrooms would need 3 to 4 months to put soap and toilet paper.

        Some bathrooms may need renovation and must be closed, for about 4 months. Hence, there’s no need to put soap and paper yet.

        I really think though that the outcry of most is the plain ugliness of the bathrooms there. But the one that I used just last October was functional. It even had a bidet. For full disclosure, I did not try it though if it had water. But the feeling that I got inside was that it was a busy bathroom, no stale, lingering, malodorous smell. I was able to wash my hands with a water that flowed from the faucet. I think I used some liquid soap. Whether or not there was a paper towel or a hand dryer–I don’t recall. :-)

        • says

          Hi roy – I quoted the article verbatim, and linked to it so anybody could read it. It said:

          “What we can promise to our traveling public is that within two to three months all our toilets will be fully equipped with toilet paper and soap,” Honrado said.

          To me, that clearly says that the toilets will have toilet paper and soap in 3 to 4 months.

        • says

          Roy, just to clarify something here … taking 3 to 4 months to “renovate” a bathroom is almost as ludicrous as taking two to three months to purchase and distribute toilet paper. My Filipino construction guy, Bernardo, can rip out an old bathroom and have a replacement functioning in about a day … a week at the most including paint and finishing touches on the new paint, decorative boarders on the tile, etc. There is NO excuse for 4 months for any sort of renovation.

          Making long-distance excuses for non-performing managers is one of the reasons the Philippines is in the state it’s in, and why so many thinking Filipinos can’t wait to run away from their own country. “delicadeza” is the curse of the Philippines.

          • roy says

            I guess Dave those 3-4 months are needed to navigate the bureaucracy. The budget, bidding for the renovation etc.

    • Christine says

      Geez Dave, those traits sounds a lot like what my patients has when they’re acutely mentally ill. Not always hallucinating though. Those are the traits found amongst my patients with personality disorder. Is it possible that the whole country are personality disordered?

      • says

        Well it is a recognized personality disorder, Christine … direct from the DSM-IV.

        “… or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible…”

        As in collecting an executive salary for years as the GM of a public facility and only taking action (actually, “promising to take action” … promising and performing are two different things here) after your management responsibility becomes and international eyesore.

        I really should shut up about this, but as one who has to visit NAIA on a regular basis … and as one who has to embarrassed to have friends and family members transit the place, it just has me a bit fired up. Talk about lasting first impressions. (but hey, look at the photo Bob illustrated the article with … how many hundreds or thousand or even millions of pesos were spent on all those pretty flag poles and flags?

        Looks pretty from the outside. All form and little substance … something I have grown all too used to I’m afraid.

        • Christine says

          All those P700 departure tax collected in multiples of 100s of thousands a day, and they can’t give passengers decent lavatories? Surely they can spare a few million pesos for a decent public lavatories?

  7. Neal in RI says

    You are the Guru, would you know why my avatar dont show up?, could it be that I recently changed my email addr I use here.

    • says

      Hi Neal – Your Gravatar is showing now, so it seems that you fixed it. Yes, the e-mail address was the reason, you have to associate your new e-mail address with your Gravatar account, or it won’t show.

  8. Cy says

    For some reason this made me think about those little bars of soap in hotels, you know, the ones you use a few times during your stay. After your spend a night or two, the maids just throw them out and put a new, neatly packaged, bar of soap in place for the next occupant. Maybe we should start a charity drive to collect those “slightly used” bars of soap and have them shipped to NAIA.

    • says

      Ha ha… or be sure to bring the small bar with you when you go to NAIA so that you can at least wash your hands. Oh, wait… there is no running water anyway, so what good is the soap? 😆

  9. says

    I left Manila two weeks ago. I have been to NAIA Terminal 1 many many times. The bathrooms are the worse ANYWHERE that I have seen…but…there has always been running water and toilet paper and friendly attendants.

    I have never understood why bathrooms in MANY public places in the Philippines are so bad. I do not get it.

    Terminal 3 is much better.

    LAX is a joke. A complete joke as an airport but to say it is worse than NAIA terminal 1 is a reach.

    This is one issue that filipinos need to understand, there is NO reason for bathrooms and waiting areas to be bad. It does NOT take a lot to keep these places respectable.

    As I said before, I have never seen toilets in NAIA Terminal 1 NOT have toilet paper or running water, but I have seen them really dirty, which is disgusting. And I do not believe it is going to take 3 months to get toilet paper in the bathrooms. I think the man just misspoke.

  10. says

    I am not sure about the customs comment in this article. Is it customs coming to Manila or leaving Manila?

    Coming to Manila you would not need much seating, you are leaving the airport. To get through customs leaving Manila I have not seen any issue or had any issue with seating. The gates I have been through all have had plenty of seating.

    And to say it is like bombed our ruins is really not fair. But the comments about the bathrooms is dead on as far as cleanliness.

  11. Boon says

    After the number of years I have lived (long time) here nothing bothers or surprises me anymore and frankly no newspaper article or otherwise is going to change anything either. Even with something as important as an International Airport. It is part of a culture that defies everything logical. We need as foreigners to stop complaining about it or it will only make you angry and unhappy. Out of stock – Went to a phone stores and 60% of the phones on display were out of stock. You can only shake your head and laugh at this stupidity. Uninspired workers/ laziness/complacency – Almost anywhere you go you see workers that will barely lift a finger to help you or have absolutely no clue about the product or service you are looking for or where it is in the store. Why because their brain dead bosses (yes the rich are stupid here too!) won’t train them properly or won’t pay them as full time employees so why should the employee care to do it on their own since they will be gone in six months. They are just passing time. The store owner loses money in sales from employee ignorance but still doesn’t care enough to do anything. And even worse the employee has no interest in furthering their own education about the store. Can we all say PHILIPPINES together. hahaha

    Friends, these are the rules that guide this Country. Leadership is a joke and corruption is a fact of life. Deal with it people. Only the Philippine people can change the Philippines and that won’t ever happen. It’s their culture plain and simple. Capitalize on the things you love and forget the things you don’t. Toilet paper and soap hahahah. People, bring your own next time hahaha oh and don’t forget a toilet seat as well unless you like to squat.

    • says

      Hi Boon – I have lived here long enough to understand how things work here. That does not mean that I cannot comment on current issues in the country, though. I don’t consider my article here to be “complaining” as you call it. I simply commented on the condition and the comments of the General Manager.

      • Boon says

        We are both veterans of life in the Philippine trenches. Mine was a general comment on conditions in the country which as an attitude extend way beyond NAIA and a suggestion (to everyone!) that there is no sense complaining about things you can’t change. This is something you have been teling readers from years mostly in your feedback to comments. It is a good suggestion. This is a difficult place for many who come here thinking they have found that oasis. I have seen men literally go berserk with anger here while others drink more while others abuse their spouses more. The Philippines is a tough place for newbies. Takes time to settle in. Perhaps as much as 4 to 5 years. I like Michaels suggestion of Club Manila. Yea it is a bargain and problem solved.

        • says

          There are very few things in the Philippines that ANYONE should go bezerk over. If that is the case the person has a serious issue. Also, increased drinking and abuse have very little to do with what goes on in the Philippines as for as expats.

          If that is the case they can leave and get some mental help.

          Sure, there are things that make your head spin, but really, just take a deep breath and relax…and if you think it is so bad in the Philippines that it causes you to drink more and abuse people…go home!!!

          For people that have really good personal hygiene (in my experience) why do filipinos allow some of the public places like airports, mall bathrooms, and restaurant bathrooms to be so darn dirty. It is something that has always amazed me about the Philippines.

          The ONLY really clean bathroom I have ever seen in the Philippines has been in a ummm…..well….dance club full of GRO’s. And we know what they are.

          I worked for years at a place in Renton, Washington called Longacres. I was responsible for the bathrooms. It is NOT hard to keep bathrooms clean! Come on now.

          • Boon says

            Ater 20 years Todd this is my experience (in the province). Many expats can’t handle the 3rd world extremes and the almost mental retardation state of many you encounter here and this leads to other issues for them. Many expats do end up leaving and going back home or seeking out other SEA watering holes like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos thinking it will be better there. It usually isn’t and the Philippines with a large english speaking population wins hands down in my book. I have come to totally ignore every possible negative here. For me the Philippines is a nice relaxed place to live because I have found go effective arounds. I have my routine and I am very happy with my family. We have a yaya, helpers who live with us and also very reliable mechanics, carpenters, gardeners, electricians at our beck and call . They took time to find but are worth their weight in gold and we treat them good. When I need a break I jump on a plane, leave the country and for a short time go on an even better vacation than I am already on.

    • Dave Keiser says

      Having lived here full time for over two years, It saddens me to see the non caring attitudes displayed by NATIVE Pinoys towards the filth and trash that surrounds them. The big push is always on to bring in the tourist bucks, but then when those same tourists are appalled at the apathy and filth on display in the major cities, Pinoys get all defensive! Get used to it you say……..needless to say I am used to it, but I would love to see the day arrive when the people of the Philippines care enough about themselves AND their country that they rise up and demand a change for the better. They unite against corruption, and REFUSE to collect voter bribery money at the polls. Rise up and sound the alarm about candidate so and so, that he or she is trying to BUY votes. No, instead they shrug their sholders, extend their palm, and say….Ah, you know, Filipino way, Tee Hee.
      Oh, and I do not drink, nor do I abuse my wife and family. That as well seems to be strong native trait that gets ignored. As a guest in this country, I don’t voice my displeasure with certain aspects of life here, I harbour no grand illusions of turning my little city in Mindanoa into a model American style city, but your comments and attitude towards foreigners I find rather offensive. Remember, we chose to love and marry Filipinas, and while I am sure there are a few mouthy bad apple foreigners here, most of have developed an affinity and bond of compassion and caring towards not just our wifes, but their families, their friends, our fellow church members, those that we employ, and that guy that runs the small eatery across the street from us, and does his best to be a friend to us, despite the fact that his English comprehension is limited, and my Bisayan is very limited.

  12. Al Watson says

    Hey Bob, did meet individuals there who seemed to be compassionate people, but for the most part I wished I could have flown directly into Davao. The Philippines airline tried to charge me an extra 250.00 but I stood my ground and got the flight to davao for what I had paid. Al

    • says

      Hi Al – Wow… I am quite surprised that PAL tried to rip you off…. it’s the first I’ve heard of that happening. Unfortunately, flying direct to Davao is not an option unless you enter via Singapore.

  13. AmericanLola says

    Well, you know, they’ve been busy for the last 15 years working on NAIA 3… not yet an international terminal, but…
    Yes, there usually is toilet paper… But the bathroom smell, are missing seats, have wet floors, and are not nice. Usually there is an attendant handing out TP and pushing around a blackened mop. Some stalls are ‘out of service.’ It is a bad first impression, no doubt about it!
    The article was about places people had to spend the night. I am guessing each airport listed was a bad place to spend the night for various reasons. LAX is bad because it is packed with people and you have to walk miles to get where you need to go, and no place comfortable to perch.
    NAIA is lousy because it is dirty and there are no places to wait other than gate areas and that Lounge mentioned above, but the lounges are not open past 11 pm, I think. We have had to wait for an international flight in the ticketing area for hours and hours… there is no other place to go. NAIA3, however has nice chairs, table restaurants and ships where you can spend time before a flight. AND clean restrooms!

    • says

      Hi AmericanLola – Yeah, the survey was done with people who are airport sleepers… but the bathroom situation affects everybody who uses the airport, and the conditions were confirmed by the NAIA General Manager. Terrible!

      • Christine says

        Hi American Lola, your mentioning of missing toilet seat reminded me of an English lady at Ayala Department store in Cebu last year. I was in the next cubicle, and I heard this distinct upper class English accent shrieked “what?, no seat? What am I supposed to do?”. I could not resist and yelled “you’re supposed to squat!”. She then yelled back “and how am I supposed to do that?”. I was not prepared to give her a demonstration, so I asked one of the attendants to help the English lady use the toilet. I did not wait for the outcome :)

        • Biz Doc says

          cruel sense of humor you got there– somewhere out there an english lady believes that pinoys only squat in the loo.

          you could have at least recommended that she pad the toilet bowl rim with toilet paper to keep the germs away!

          = )

          • marjorie says

            The English lady must not have been to some of the British loos I’ve visited through my life here. No way would you sit down on the seat. So my early training helped this English lady when visiting the Philipines. I’m not upper class either lol
            The Loos here are a lot better than they used to be.

        • Dan says

          Thats funny…that english lady must have not been thru girl scout training! If she had been then she would for sure knew how to squat….because when you are out on a hike in the woods, there are no toliet seats hanging off a tree or bush….You just learn to squat….and same for boy scouts, you learn to squat when the time comes and stand behind a tree other times if you are bashfull……also if no toliet paper use a leaf or hand full if on the trail….not so sure what you could use at a ill equip air port if they had no toilet paper….maybe be use full to carry ones own private stock of toilet paper…

  14. AussieLee says

    Morning Bob,
    My whole life I have always been told if you go to the Philippines you must not only carry your passport with you but toilet paper too. Why? Is the stuff that expensive/precious? Not the place to visit if you have a “big brown dog barking at the back door”!

  15. AmericanLola says

    As to why there is no toilet paper, I think it’s because it gets swiped. This also explains why there is an attendant who hands out the rolls. I have seen well-dressed ladies industriously unrolling TP onto their hand and then stuffing it in their purses, in public places. I hate to say it, but resourceful locals, even those who can afford to travel abroad, tend to ‘shop’ public facilities and things like TP, kleenex, soap and other amenities disappear very quickly. Ask a hotel manager. I have wealthy friends with ashtrays and towels from around the world.

    • says

      Ha ha…. I hear you AmericanLola. I have no doubt that people swipe stuff from hotels and public restrooms. But, at NAIA, only travelers are allowed to enter the airport…. so it’s either the travelers or the NAIA employees who would be taking the stuff… right?

      • AmericanLola says

        Right. And after sitting across the aisle from a lady, returning home from a trip abroad, who had a stack of airplane bathroom kleenex in her lap which she was folding carefully to put in her bag, I am pretty sure it is the travelers.

  16. rc says

    It’s a miserable airport for sure…and soap and toilet paper are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the most uncomfortable, run down, international airport I’ve ever been in…oh, and don’t even get me started on the ‘airport shuttle’ that supposedly runs between the terminals….or not.

    And for some reason, most international flights all arrive late at night at around the same time…so there is an enormous queue of people trying to get thru immigration and customs at the same time, when every shop in the terminal is closed (or that was the case in 2009).

    You really do feel alone when you get off that plane at 11 PM to catch a connecting flight at 6 AM…no food or water or functioning toilets and you’ve been awake for 24+ hours…and you wait for 1 or 2 hours get to the connecting domestic terminal and the lights are off, the AC is off and you have to sit on the floor in the main ticket counter area to wait for the ticket counters to open for 4 to 5 hours.

    A very memorable experience…and one I’d like to forget.

  17. Tony says

    If you ever arrive really early there is a long term parking area just on the right before you go up the hill……… must pay of course (is parking free anywhere in the country?), and I warn you if you think the toilets are bad inside the airport, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

  18. Don says

    I fly in every month and have been to just about every airport in Asia. India definitely ranks as the worst.

    I dont understand why they cant get Term 3 up and running for intl flights. T3 is the most modern, but only used for buedget airlines. I know they had issues with contractor payments and the IATA boycott, but that was years ago. By the time T3 is allowed for intl flights, it will be in the same shape as T1. Also, if you have to connect to a domestic flight, you need to leave the terminal and basically hail a cab to get to the other terminal and remember to bring the 750 airport tax

    Also, for those not familiar with T1, if you have to kill a few hours, go have a massage upstairs and also the CR in the little restaurant is a bit cleaner. Also, bring your own food as the food there is the worst.

    • says

      Hi Don – Interesting comments. The issues with Terminal 3, as far as the contractor and such are still ongoing. There is still a case in International Court over Terminal 3, it has yet to be resolved. It seems that every time there is a ruling, it goes against the Philippines and they keep appealing. It’s sure a sad situation. As you say, by the time they put the terminal to use it will be outdated already! Sad.

  19. brian says

    I tell my kids befroe final decent into MNL to use the planes restroom if they have may be bad ..but not half as bad as the airport one. I usually travel with a maximum carry backpack loaded with video gear, batteries converters ect…every airport I go thru with it I get pulled aside to go thru the bag with a fine tooth comb….except in the RP where after I pay the Mayors fee…er.. airport fee..I waltz right on in..past all 3 check points for boarding ..I hear their going to add a forth check point soon to cover what the 3rd’s might miss (LOL).
    I used to get frustrated with the terminal…now I find it somewhat amusing.

  20. says

    I have only two experiences with NAIA both in 2008 and the same trip. At arrival, I was delivered via taxi to PAL’s terminal (after being driven in the opposite direction) where PAL personnel held the last plane to Davao for me. At departure, I found Hawaiian Air’s gate to be almost comical (everyone had to be rescreened after trips to the bathroom because there were none in a secure area near the gate).

    I really have no complaints.

    I will say that I’m a bit shocked to see open criticism from you Bob but only because I try very hard to not let my American show when faced with the Philippines “culture”. I still have to hold my tongue and think hard about whether what I’m about to say is “whiny American” or not.

    As you’ve lived there for a good long time now, I imagine you’ve earned the right to be critical, even to the point where you’re criticisms are welcomed.

    Thanks for your thoughtful columns.

  21. John Miele says

    Bob: I have been in all of the airports listed, except Moscow…. And I generally agree with the ranking. LAX is crowded, old, dirty, and few seats. JFK is a real pain in the olderterminals. Delhi (or Mumbai) should be higher up in my opinion (Though Delhi was recently remodeled). CDG is old, cramped, dirty, no seats, and rude staff (I largely would add this at the top also, except that I absolutely despise Heathrow). I’ve written about this several times before. One thing to keep in mind is that MNL is not really a large hub or gateway. Huge, confusing, hubs like JFK or LAX have millions more passengers pass though them each year, so they tnd to skew higher on the rankings.

    That being said, the biggest disgrace at NAIA is that terminal 3, brand new and up to standard, sits largely unused except for the Cebu Pacific and handful of ANA ( flight) and PAL domestic flights. They really should have moved the international airlines to the new terminal.

    As to chaos on arrival, NAIA has made big strides in improving over the last few years. A big part of it was evicting the taxi touts and keeping the people awaiting arrivals out of the immediate terminal exit. Yet, it can still be very confusing and chaotic if you have never arrived there.

    My suggestions for NAIA:

    1. Build a people mover or secure bus transfer between the spread out terminals, especially when arriving int’l to domestic.

    2. Start includingthe exit tax in the ticket taxes and eliminate yet another unnecessary queue.

    3. Xray the baggage in a more orderly queue.

    4. Fix the damn toilets.

    5. More food options in terminal (Terminal 1 & 2 especially).

    I have experienced much of the same in the rest of the developing world. However, even in Jakarta, they manage to keep the chaos minimized.

    • says

      Hi John –

      1. As far as I know, there are shuttles between terminals, I know there used to be, but they are woefully inadequate, no doubt.
      2. I fully agree on putting all airport taxes into the ticket price, as other airports around the world do. As it is now, people think it’s a rip-off, even though every airport in the world charges such taxes, they just include them in the ticket price.
      3. Absolutely, and also cut back the number of “checks”.
      4. Ha ha… yes, indeed!
      5. I hope that #5 and #4 are not linked! 😉

      • John Miele says

        Bob: There are infrequent shuttles, but you need to leave the terminal, collect luggage, and go through the security mess again. Most airports have transfer options on the secure side… It is so much easier.

        • Gary says

          Same with LAX. I lived my first 35 years in LA, so never had a flight transfer at LAX until this past October – what a pain. But as Bob pointed out, at least you can wipe ;o)

          • says

            Ha ha… like you, Gary, I lived in the LA area (actually I lived in Orange County) and used LAX pretty regularly. Never considered it to be a problem. I don’t recall ever using it for transit, though.

            • Gary says

              Yeah me too until this last trip. If you have a domestic transfer after an international flight, you check your bags back in after customs, but you have to exit the secure area to your domestic gate. Fortunately I was flying American which is right next to the Bradley terminal, but it was still a pain. Most airports you can stay inside the secure area.

  22. Don says

    Actually, the best suggestion is to close down NAIA altogether. Clark is a fully functional airport that used to fly out the big Cargo plans of the USAF. They really should not locate an international airport in the middle of the Metro Manila. If they built transport to Clark, all problems solved. Right now, only used by a few budget airlines. Most other Asian countries have their airports way outside the city, including Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Shanghai, Narita, etc.

        • Don says

          Rail line is a given. Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, KL all have nice efficient trains.

          Even going to NAIA from my place in Bonifacio in central Manila takes a minimum of 1 + hours due to bad roads/too many jeepneys trying to get in. Driving 2 hours to Clarke on NLEX is actually not that bad.

  23. says

    when I left from manila last time they had the best bus service to international. It was a little hard to find but the buses were new and no charge. It left on time even thought me and the wife were the only ones on board. The driver was very helpful. Also when we got there late at night the trsansport bus was outdide and left after about 20 min to the domestice termanial. This is the first time no taxis were used and the service was good. Use the bahtroom before you go through customs on the right hand side–the cleanest ones at the airport. This was all in Feb. and March of this year. The bathrooms were being fixed in the international part and they had placed grabage cans of water in the bathroom to clean and flush with. Not the best but there was a lot of water!!lol

      • Biz Doc says

        hi bob,

        they’re the typical extra-large plastic bins you see in pinoy homes used to either stock rice or water, or if it’s a well-off residence– garbage ” )


          • Biz Doc says

            back in the day my mom got nervous every time the water district put out a water outage notice, which meant storing water in those huge bins a day ahead for kitchen use.

            they were taller than her last 3 kids– that included me– who had a habit of plunging into them to cool off! credit 3 guardian angels for keeping said kids from drowning hehe ” )


              • Biz Doc says

                btw bob,

                back in my grandma’s place where we grew up, a covered mini-reservoir was built right under the elevated water tank so that there’d be enough for bathing & laundry during water district repair & maintenance days. i’m not sure if that’s practical these days. the house was built back in the 50s


  24. says

    I have never had issues with toilets at NAIA 1. My biggest complaints are dirty filthy floors when you arrive. And no sit down restaurants when you depart.

    • Henry says

      So true, Ray. NAIA 1 is pretty good. The men’s room I used was clean and had an attendant on duty (he handed me several paper towels to dry my hands). As for sit down restaurants, you aren’t kidding! What was in the middle of that area? A pastry shop? I can’t recall, but lucky I had a full breakfast before boarding. What really irks me is the “airport tax” if that’s what is is. I mean it’s 200 pesos to come into the country and 750 pesos to leave. How much money is this airport raking in daily on this so-called tax?

  25. Jim Hannah says

    Let’s give the GM a get out and assume a typo…that there is a missing comma, that what he meant was:

    “What we can promise to our traveling public is that within two to three months all our toilets will be fully equipped, with toilet paper and soap.

    It’s a poor airport, I agree, but I look upon it as an adventure! Expect nothing, and whatever you get is a bonus.

  26. Jeff R. says

    Personally I would rank Los Angeles, LAX, the worst airport in the world simply because of the foul attitudes of the people who work there. Every visit to LAX has always been unpleasant to say the very least. The airline employees, the TSA and the airport staff are some of the most rude, obnoxious and unprofessional people I have ever dealt with. If I was visiting a country for the first time and encountered the problems I experience at LAX I would turn around and go home. Manila NAIA may have a few problems but at least the people are friendly and that makes all of the difference in the world.

    • Don says

      Bad attitudes of TSA versus corrupt officials at NAIA, its a toss up.

      When I first arrived in NAIA T1 in 2007, I was crossing the street to go to the hotel car service. A guard stopped me and demanded a fine for jay walking, how else do you get to the hotel side? I had to get my Pinoy colleague to yell at him for being a bad representative of her country. She was very embarassed after giving so many glowing comments of nice Philippinos.

        • Jim Hannah says

          Whatever our humble opinions Bob, I’m sure that the guy can’t really have been saying that it will take three months to get a couple of rolls of paper installed, and I’m confident that he must be meaning that the Johns will all be sorted out, complete with water and loo roll by the time mentioned. I’m feeling very charitable today you see.

          When it comes to speaking English, you can’t always expect a Filipino to be quite accurate, as we both know. My Wife’s favourite mistake when she means yes is to say “no”, and vice versa. And that’s after fifteen years out of the country and a degree qualification, taken in English, that puts mine to shame. I’ve learned to ask things in two different ways to make sure I get an answer I can trust. Oh wait, she might read this, then subject me to a spelling bee that she always wins. :-)))

          • says

            Hi Jim – Think what you want, my friend, but in addition to the newspaper article, I also saw him on TV on ANC where they had a 30 minute discussion on the situation. He made it very clear what the plan is, and it will be 3 months or so before there is toilet paper in the bathrooms. I don’t just make up stuff here, I know what the score is… believe it or not! 😉

      • Jeff R. says

        I don’t like corruption any more than bad attitudes. I have never experienced any corruption or attitude issues at NAIA. If I had my opinion may be different. Thanks for the info. I’ll have to keep an eye out for this.

  27. AlexB says

    Hi Bob,

    With the exception of sleeping conditions, these same comments have been posted in Skytrax for years. In answer to your (rhetorical) question, no the officials don’t give a crap. As long as their photo is posted somewhere on their website, billboard or banner somewhere that’s all that matters to these officials forget about running water, toilet paper, or customer service.

    Mind you I have not had any serious issues with NAIA T1 in the last few years I’ve been in and out of there, including using the toilet (old, weak water pressure). But I’ve been through worse airports that are not on the list (except Moscow SVO which deserves its place.)


  28. Don says

    One of the items that really sticks out in the article is that NAIA was rated the worst in Asia. When you compare it to the other modern airports in SEA (KLA, SIN, BKK), it really stands out. I cant remember JAK, but dont think its nearly as bad.

    When your trying to expand tourism and business, it does not help that you have a crappy airport to announce your entrance into the country.

  29. Biz Doc says

    hi bob,

    the dirty toilet problem– not just at naia but also at bus terminals, passenger ships, malls, everything that’s public-use– seems to be due to one thing only : no mop/rag dryers.

    you’d understand seeing a dirty toilet if there was no one assigned to maintain it– people just don’t seem to know how to leave a public toilet as clean as when they came in– but even those with maintenance crews still encounter that problem. if you go around the back to check things out, the assigned crew are trying to make do with their wet mops & rags drying under the sun, or hung under aircon/equipment exhaust ducts. facility administrators seem to be clueless about this problem, which can easily be fixed by installing dryers for cleaning implements.

    anyone who knows a supplier for this ordinary industrial product has got to see this small problem as a huge opportunity ” )


    • says

      Hi Biz Doc – One big, big difference between NAIA and a bus terminal or other places… NAIA is the gateway to the country. It is the first impression that is made on what the Philippines is. That’s why it is such a disgrace. Three months to put toilet paper in the bathrooms? I bet I could go out and buy 500 rolls of toilet paper today and personally make sure every toilet has paper in stock. It’s a true disgrace. Whatever they need to do, they need to get it done! You are sure right.. it’s a huge business opportunity!

      • Biz Doc says

        hi bob,

        i haven’t seen the actual news article with that particular announcement but to read between the lines, as it were, it seems that the GM means stocking each toilet with soap & toilet paper ‘after’ a thorough renovation. sure they could stock all that in a jiffy, but being a govt-run facility that’s bidded out for servicing it seems they’re bound too much by contractual protocols.

        if it will take them a quarter to fix such a simple problem, i can only assume (with good reason) that making any positive changes involves stepping on other people’s toes who are currently making money off whatever’s happening at the airport facility right now.

        i’ve lived long enough to realize that if something doesn’t make sense or add up, follow the money trail. it tends to tell the full story more than the official press release ” )


        • says

          Hey Biz Doc – There is no excuse. They know and understand that travelers are being put through discomfort in the bathrooms, they can fix the toilet paper and soap issues in one day. It’s not hard to do. Maybe it will step on some toes.. the toes of those who are not doing the job they are being paid to do. Sometimes a few toes need to be stepped on to buck the system. For $1,000 they can have the bathrooms shaped up with toilet paper and soap.

          • Biz Doc says

            hi bob,

            there’s really no excuse for it– in fact some appointed govt officials use press conferences to reveal certain realities that they can’t talk about on their own. by making it appear that they’re powerless to do something that’s clearly so simple to fix, it leads news hounds to pick up on the cue, and trigger investigations on what’s really behind it all. that way the appointees– typically non-political, corporate-trained managers– don’t become assassination targets. the journalists get picked off.


    • roy says

      Hi Biz Doc, a rag dryer (what is that?) is not really necessary. What is necessary though is a map squeezer.

      • Biz Doc says

        hi roy,

        they do have those wheeled buckets with mop squeezers on them. but what it does is leave the mop damp, and when they start cleaning up with a damp mop, it leaves the floor wet enough for shoes’ mudprints to stick on the floor.

        so they mop it up again with the same mop, washing it off, squeezing it dry, mopping the floor again leaving it damp for new mudprints to stick on the floor.

        i’ve seen that cycle over and over from airports to bus terminals to malls to gas station rest rooms. especially the rags tucked under exhaust ducts to dry– and under automatic hand-dryers too!

        if that’s not a pattern for an unmet product need nationwide, i’d be damned not to take advantage of it hehe ” )


      • Papa Duck says


        I think what he means is a washer and dryer to clean and dry the rags and mop heads when they get dirty. You would think there would already be a mop wringer on the mop bucket, but you never know. Good Day

        • Biz Doc says

          hi papa duck,

          just a quick dryer, literally.

          maintenance crews tend to wash mops & rags by hand, wringing them dry just doesn’t cut it. for some reason the local maintenance supply outfits don’t have that product.


  30. dave bennett says

    Bob i have been through there twice, i was so excited to see my Mahal i never even noticed the damn place!

  31. Dave Keiser says

    Now, Bob… are looking at this from a common sense approach. You should no better by now. Three months to get toilet paper is actually pretty good!
    Step one: Get the appropriate forms from Airport General Services, fill out in triplicate, provide an authorized copy of the purchasing agents Cedula, Go to BIR and purchase document stamps, Obtain police clearance, NBI clearance, afix a passport sized photo to the documents, then take the whole paper pile to an attorney to be notarized, photo copy the document for the attorneys office because they don’t have their own photo copier of course, return every day for a week or so hoping attorney has finally bothered to show up at his office and sign the document, go buy a plastic laminate cover for said purchasing document, and then return the completed purchase order to Airport General Services!
    Step two: Wait at least a month for the head of General services to check everything, and give his approval after you pass a couple of hundred pesos under the table to him.
    Step Three: Repeat most of step one to obtain money from petty cash
    Step Four: Go to the nearest Sari Sari store to purchase the ONE roll of paper that was finally approved………”So Sorry Sir, Out of stock” says the sales girl.

  32. jonathan says

    Hi Bob,

    3-4 months? Let’s celebrate! Yey! But the question is “on what year”? Lol. Honestly, NAIA Terminal 1 is really out of shape that’s why they built Terminal 2 and 3. But alas, controversy and politicking and corruption and red tape has reared its ugly head on all of these projects esp. terminal 3. As an OFW, I usually leave thru terminal 1 and through the years I have noticed some small changes in the general operation of the area, some bad to worse while others from bad to good, depending on the situation on that particular day. Well, last year I exited Terminal 2 while going to HK with my wife and was impressed with the whole area compared to Terminal 1. But upon return, at the arrival gate through Terminal 2, I was dumbfounded with the total lack of “a lot of things” in that area. It was sooo small and cramped and the escalator was not working (or was there even an escalator?) so we have to drag our luggages down the stairs. The carousel for luggages there was a big joke too. The lines of people exiting through what it called an immigration desk would snake around those carousels due to lack of space. There’s only one duty free shop and of course, the ATMs are out-of-order or doesn’t have any money on it. I’m a foreigner in my own country! I just can’t imagine how an actual foreigner might feel upon their first arrival in Manila and the impression it would give them.

    • says

      Ha ha.. perhaps, jonathan… after a few months we shall see if the job is done or not. I predict it will be like you say… what year? Being a foreigner in your own country is not a good feeling… hopefully things will improve.

  33. Steve Maust says

    I find it an interesting experience every time I fly through NAIA. On my first visit I made the mistake of waiting till I got inside the airport to find a bathroom. It was a very disgusting experience. And then I got charged 5 peso for using it. Not sure if this was a “western” tax or not. The experience of going through customs on arrival has always been the long long lines. But once through all that I have had no problems. Only thing is my bag seems to be the last one off the plane!
    The Domestic terminal is a total surprise compared to that of NAIA. The wait to get in is still a nightmare sometimes. Then with all the desk you think their service time would be better checking in. But once all this is done I find it quite fun to go upstairs and see what new restaurants or stores have been put in. Each time I go something else has been added.
    As I leave back through NAIA I go back through the nightmare all over again. The waiting outside in line to get into the airport rain or shine. The long lines for check in for your tickets. The waiting while people in front of me argue about the airport tax being paid. I have to say the line for customs now moves much faster that they have put up ropes to guide you through and a security guard pointing people to the next available booth. I have to say that is one improvement since I have been coming and leaving from there. But at the same time they have not opened any more xray machines so there is still one line for men and one for the ladies. But finally I make it through. I do pay for the lounge service. I have found that the restrooms are cleaner there and the last few San Migs are cold and refreshing after all this hassle!
    Already looking forward to my next visit!!!

  34. Bryan G says

    I first passed through NAIA terminal one in 1986 and worked there from 1988 to 1992 and it has not changed much since then – I think that when you use it regularly you dont notice the bad points. Its a little like an old worn pair of shoes – comfortable if a bit battered and cracked! I worked there again in 2007 and just fitted in as I had nothing new to learn. There is a photograph I took at that time – it is a sign outside a toilet down on the ramp – it says ‘Beware of falling debris’ which just about sums up the ethos of the terminal. In spite of all the problems and faults I have a great affection for the place – the happiest four years of my adult life were spent working there with some very fine people.

  35. Bryan G says

    Further to this topic – Naia left me with a fund of stories about things that happened – the airport managers close in body guard bending down in the terminal to pick up litter – his gun went off and shot him through his testicles and foot,a security man showing off his new gun in the workers cafe -took out the magazine then blew his brains all over the wall! A Saudi captain fighting with a stowaway trying to get him back on the aircraft to Saudi. Lady being hit by an aircraft landing while she took a shortcut across the runway – I could go on all day with things that happened – you might even believe some of the stories! There was never a dull day,it really was a great place to work as opposed to being a passenger.

  36. Bob New York says

    Out of the dozen or so times I have used NAIA for my visits in the past few years, many of the comments and negatives about this airport do not seem to affect me or maybe I am just lucky. I usually arrive mid morning on a China Air flight and have a 3 hour window to catch the flight to Cagayan De Oro in the afternoon. I do feel a bit ” Interogated ” by Imigration as I have described in comments before and have learned to come well equipped. The interesting part begins when the Immagration officer asks where I am going and I politely reply ” Iligan City “. For some unknown reason this brings unusual responses. The visit before last it was like the Filipina Officers face crinkled up like a cat backed into a corner and with a rather stern voice asks ” and WHY are you going to Iligan City ! ” . I calmly reply that I am on vacation and I have friends in Iligan City that I am visiting, and with that I show my personal letter of invitation from the Mayor of Iligan, Mayor Lawrence L L Cruz. Next I show documentation of the scholarship I sponsor at MSU-IIT. I keep my thoughts of what I really want to say to myself. Last time I was not interrogated at all but I was ready again this time with my MSU-IIT honorary Alumni photo ID Card to add to the other credentials.

    Customs, no problem. It appears that they have a walk thru ” nothing to declare ” line leading right out the exit door. I have never experienced any line at the ” something to declare ” area which is the one I usually go through just to be on the safe side. If I have something I think they should know about I tell them. I hand them my filled out card, no prob, ” go ahead Sir “.

    From there I have to go to the terminal where Philippine Air is. There is a free shuttle that you may have to wait a while for. I took it once, no prob but I just didn’t care to wait around. There are also what appear to be licensed and registered metered taxis lined up in an organized fashion. I have used those the last few visits with no difficulty.

    Each visit brings me more familiarity with the areas of NAIA that I use and it gives me a better chance to take a close look at things. The area for Philippine Air was clean, orderly, appeared to be well secured, no long lines, everyone seemed very polite to me. There is a designated smoking area at the far end in a snack bar type of place, fully enclosed, smoke eaters going full blast, and they don’t ” encourage ” you to leave if you do not buy anything. I usually buy a can of coca-cola or two. In the main boarding areas there was plenty of seating, floors were well maintained and trash free. Signs and illumination in good order. I could actually hear and understand the paging system, there are a few less Pay Phones and at any place I asked for information or anything else everyone was very polite. I used the mens CR several times and I do not recall any problem there. It was relatively clean, there was soap and paper towels. I did not look into any of the stalls here as I did not use any of them and I did not think appropriate to appear like I was snooping around LOL . I was well satisfied. My flight to Cagayan De Oro boarded and left on time.

    On my return trip I have a one night stayover in Manila. Arrival at NAIA from CDO on Phil Air, no prob. There is a registered ” car service ” just outside of the ground floor arrivals area. I usually take one of these flat rate cars to the hotel. Cost a bit more but I feel it is more secure, flat rate so no fare rip-off potential. You get a writted reciept with the name and office address of the car service company before getting into the car.

    The following morning I have the hotel call a metered cab and I think it was about 160 PHP back to ( I Think ) Terminal 1 . I get there early in the morning and I have not had to experience much of a wait to get inside. Then the wait comes for the airline to open its check in counters but that is not the fault of the airport. Check in, pay airport tax, outgoing immagration, and security check, no problem and not much of a wait. The passenger loung area past the security check point I found no problem with at all. It appeared clean, the usual variety of shops with ” Airport Prices ” ( after all this is the high rent district ) . Illumination and signage all in working order. Paging system intelledgeable, Mens CR found to be in good order, quite clean, soap, water, paper towels in good supply. Attendants seen checking supply levels and cleanliness several times during my 3 hour wait for boarding call. Plenty of time to relax, browse the various shops, etc. There is a smoking lounge on the main level, a bit small but perfectly adequit. There is also a more conventional restaurant on an upper level ( stairs involved ) that offers smoking and non smoking areas. It is quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of the main area. I usually enjoy a few cups of coffee and some smokes in this area. Once again, everyone was polite, courteous when ever I asked a question or for anything else.

    So far, I have not had any negative experiences at NAIA. Maybe I am just lucky, maybe I have a different or more positive attitude about things although if I did find any significant discrepency I would not hesitate to mention it.

    On the ” toilet Tissue ” issue, I always carry a half roll of toilet tissue in a zip lock bag in my carry-on camera bag along with some paper towels. In some of the travel books I read before my first visit, it mentioned that public rest rooms in The Philippines may not offer toilet paper so I was forewarned and came prepared. Upon any arrival, usually just before or as the seat belt sign comes on in the plane I use the CR in the plane in case there is a long wait to find one after landing.

    That is the summary of my own experiences at NAIA. I hope future ones go just as smoothly !

      • Bob New York says

        Let’s hope for the best, Bob. I think it will only be one or two more times for Lumbia in CDO as I think the new airport ( I cant figure out the name of it yet LOL ) in Northern Mindanao may replace Lumbia next year. The progress reports on it are very encouraging at this time.

      • Bob New York says

        If it is located in the Philippines I guess it really is a CR. Most confusing one for me was the first time I went to the UK, I didn’t know “WC ” was the rest room ( Water Closet ) also known as ” The Loo “.

        From my experiences in The Philippines so far, best and most consistant CR’s I have used are those at Jollibee, I call them ” The Jolli-CR ” .

    • David L Smith says

      Hi Bob New York
      I must admit i have had only good experiences like you. Maybe its only in peak times at the airport that they experience these issues with the toilets and other shortcomings, or maybe i have just been lucky as i have only been through there a few times.

    • Dave Smith says

      I can only agree. I always carry my own wipes and soap when traveling. The only thing that bothers me in Phils is that 99% of CR’s have no towels (or soap, or paper – why would the airport be different, lol). But compared to other international airports NAIA is fine and the new terminal 3 is really nice, if still a bit ’empty’. I would say Bob NY, that I always go to the line of metered taxis at the airport and get a safe cheap ride into town, but it took a while to figure that out initially, as there are plenty of ‘gypsies’ waiting for the unsuspecting tourist. THAT should be cleaned up!
      Back to the airport; I have had less hassles at NAIA than at most others in the world and my own worst ranking would be;
      1. Heathrow – it’s chaos in every way and staff are rude, 2. Gatwick – you can’t find a luggage cart anywhere, 3. LA – I spent an hour going round and round the airport as the bus driver wouldn’t leave until it was full – and the Tourist Info guy recommended to stay out of LA for my own safety! Oh, and you can’t smoke anywhere NEAR the place, 4. Brussels – gateway to the EU – smells of urine and you need local COINS to get a baggage cart, 5. Delhi – the only airport you can smell before you land, 6. Mactan (Cebu) – hey may have bag storage (as does T3 Manila, btw) but they wouldn’t let me in without a printed ticket and I had to pay and wait ages for that to happen. It’s the only place they have held strictly to that policy even after a security scan, 7. Vancouver – it’s actually nice but expensive and earns this rank for being so over the top with security that I am always late at the gate. Security takes 1 hour average and I should mention that Canadian security exists WITHIN NAIA, where they make passengers wait for flights with NO facilities and not enough seats! 8. Norwich, England – it’s the training ground for UK customs and they get points for confiscating all your gifts if the total value is greater that 32 pounds (2200 pesos) 9. Lagos, Nigeria – if you are going there, make sure you have someone you KNOW meet you (luckily I did – my colleague got mugged and his passport stolen) – it’s a scary place, 10. I was going to say Schipol, but that’s only because KLM staff are so rude and anyway it is outranked by every other International airport in the US simply because of the extreme hassles they give every foreigner, making them feel most unwelcome.
      NAIA doesn’t come close to the top 10 I’m afraid.
      I had my sister and 15 year old son meet my wife and I in T3, knowing they were landing at T1 several hours earlier. I told them everything would be smooth and easy as people are so friendly, you only have to ask someone in uniform and they will help you…and it was! They were happily waiting for us in T3 having some (reasonably priced) snacks. And another friend who was warned by a Filipino Tour Guide from Luzon not to go to Mindanao as “they will kill you there”, was too scared to enter the country. NAIA is typical of the Philippines; things may be ‘shoddy’ compared to western standards, but everything gets done, and with a smile :)
      Should they clean it up? Sure. But do we really WANT all those tourists? 😉

        • Dave Smith says

          Hi Bob
          I agree the country is totally under-rated as a tourist destination and could have the economic benefit that Thailand got from it’s tourism (and more!) but the lack of motivation for that from within the country, allied with ‘Don’t go there – terrorism!’ reports from the US state dept. (and Pinoys – see above) mean that this is a long way off… especially for Mindanao.

          • says

            Oh, you are 100% correct, Dave. I was just responding to when you said “do we really want the tourists…” yes, I do. Just because I want it, doesn’t mean I think we will get it – I don’t. But, I do want it.

            I would wager there is a lot more terrorism in Thailand, particularly in the south, then in the Philippines.. but perception means a lot more than reality, unfortunately.

  37. says

    Damn, this is the longest and angriest thread I’ve came across recently!!

    So what have I learned: never book a flight that arrive at NAIA in the middle of the night, bring plenty of toilet paper, hand sanitizers, a spare toilet seat, bring some of those break-open smelling salts capsules (to help overcome the stench of the CR), plenty of extra pesos to take care of the dozens of bribes, a folding chair, eat plenty of food on the airplane, make damn sure you relieve yourself before getting off the airplane — or — book your flight via Singapore and then arrive in the Philippines thru Davao City.

  38. peterjoy says

    the fun off flying over seas mate and yes i have had my fun at manila airport in 2006 the last time i was home mate and there was a brown out or for me a black out and a lovely storm to go with it and in side that airport was like being in well over 50 it was so very very hot for me it was the first time i have ever felt so hot and there was no way out as i was going home and had to wait for the time but as i always take loo paper with me whever i go i did find them ok just lol a good posting mate…….peter martin tassie….

  39. says

    Hi Bob – I’ve read them all but to be honest the new PAL terminal Inter & Domestic I cannot say I have found serious fault with either. Incidentally most frequent users carry their own toilet roll and fresh wipes anyway. Toilet rolls no matter how many they replaced per day would be stollen that seems to be the way in the Philippines. Some of the readers here should try some of the African Airports as well as Eastern European airports then…….they would really have cause for complaint.
    This can only get better.

    • says

      Hi Jim – Like you, I’ve never had a problem with Terminal 2.. it’s quite nice. But, what we are talking about, and what received such a low rating was Terminal 1. 😉

      • says

        Hi Bob – Maybe whats happening is a PAL promotion ,,,,,,, Fly with us and you can have a crap………… Fly with the rest and your in the crap lol.

  40. Lenny says

    Wow alot of comments here, looks like your very busy answering this time heheh…You know, I would glad trade the soap and toilet paper if they could just help the poor families living here first………………………………… Living here now, I see how wondeful the people are.. How hard they try, raising their children etc.. First things first…Just my two cents…………

  41. Dr. Sponk Long says

    Hi Bob,

    Before newspapers were everywhere, hemorrhoids were never known in the Philippines.

    I agree. Banana leaves are abundant…so are coconut and corn husks.

    The used ones, when dried, will be more flammable for use in cooking.

  42. Ron says

    Hi Bob, In my opinion flying in any airport is a hassle. Flying in general is a non-pleasant experience. I think NAIA is ranked higher than some because most of the world does not experience its amenities. As far as toilet paper is concerned I always carry a small roll with me regardless of where I am traveling. I include travel by car in that statement. Used to be a boy scout “always prepared”.

  43. says

    …hmmm. as I foresee myself travelling more and more to the Philippines. I will be taking a toilet paper with me! I normally travel light – think o 1 extra shorts, shirt only! then come back home with a luggage full of clothes!

  44. says

    I will bet you a fish-head-and-rice dinner that the so called airport manager gets a big fat allowance for maintenance and funds to keep the bathroom clean, toilet paper, etc. Does that money go for maintenance of the bathroom?? Obviously not… My guess is it goes in his pocket. After all, why should he waste good money for paper to wipe rich traveler’s rear ends? In the Philippines corruption starts from the bottom up (pun intended).

    • says

      Hi Rich – I would suggest that we (at least I) do not know enough about that manager to say that. In fact, without knowing the facts, it is libel, and I could be held responsible for that, given that this is my site. He could be using the money properly and his underlings might be abusing, or there may be no money that reaches the man because it was plundered before it got to him. So… I don’t think it’s fair to say that about the man, unless you know specific information.

  45. Rey says

    Oh boy ain’t i glad i did not have to go through naia at all. 😀
    Just reading from all the gripes here, i feel so lucky that i can go directly to Davao from SG! :)

  46. says

    Maybe I am just really lucky, but I doubt it. Maybe some of the travelers through NAIA are just really naive…,I think that might be the more likely situation.

    The bribes deal really puzzles me…where is all this bribing going on? I have asked many friends that have been through that airport many times and they have NEVER had a situation where they had to give money to any official or anyone.

    I have been through that airport many many many times and I have not had that happen either. So apparently all the people that I know, and myself, are just bribe resistant.

    Come on now guys! The airport is not good, the bathrooms are terrible, but please don’t go over board and say things that are not true.

    It seems that in the last six months or so this board has become a place for people to constantly bash the Philippines and the new president. If you think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence…I would be more than happy to change places with some of you.

    I can only speak of America, but come back here and maybe you’ll remember why you chose to move to the Philippines in the first place and you’ll actually stop all the whining and appreciate where you live.

    • says

      No, I disagree. There is not so much complaining or “constant bashing” as you say. Frankly, I see a lot of exaggeration and “holier than thou” statements coming from you, though, Todd. There are a lot of people on this site who love the Philippines. It is not exclusive to you, although you seem to think it is.

      • David L Smith says

        Hi Bob
        good reply to Todd…I also think he is way of the mark in his comments about this board. On another matter i dont know if i can agree with your comments about the Davao airport being a joy. My wife and baby are made to wait outside the terminal in the heat on my arrival. Hopefully im wrong about this and you can tell me she can wait inside , but apparantly she has tried before and she told me if you dont have a ticket you cant enter the im not happy to know she has been waiting outside up to an hour sometimes for me to arrive. I have suggested to her to stay home and wait for me but she is intent on meeting me at thr airport.

        • says

          Hi David – Indeed, you cannot go inside if you have no ticket. I believe that this is the policy at every airport in the Philippines. It is a security thing. At the Davao Airport, in the outside area where people can wait, there are covered areas where it is shady, which are provided for waiting. I don’t recall if I said that the Davao airport is a joy, but what I meant was that compared to NAIA it is a joy. 😆

          • Jun Trinidad says

            I think the reason for that policy is not just for security but also to avoid congestion/over crowding inside the terminal. For every passenger that arrives/leaves, there’s probably 3-5 people maybe more that are there to welcome/send off an arriving/departing passenger. Just take a look outside the terminal and you’ll know what I mean.

      • Gary says

        One point Todd brought up though is the bribe issue. I’d like to hear from those who’ve run into this because it hasn’t been my experience.

        • says

          Hi Gary – On the Sleeping in Airports article that I referred to in this article people said that they had been made to pay bribes and such. But, did anybody in the comments here say that? If so, I don’t recall….

          • Gary says

            Actually what you’re saying aligns with my point. The fact that it’s not mentioned in the comments says a lot, yet it’s prominent in the publsihed complaints about NAIA. I’m really just curious – has anyone run into a bribe situation. Without going back through the comments I think you agreed with one commentor that it doesn’t happen to westerners but that you know that it exists. I’m paraphrasing from memory, maybe I got it wrong. There are of Pinoy commentors, I haven’t heard any of them mention bribery either.

            • says

              Hi Gary – I know you were just paraphrasing from memory, but I want to clarify so that others don’t think I said something that I didn’t! 😉 I never agreed that it doesn’t happen to westerners. Somebody said (I think it was Ray as I recall) that it doesn’t happen to westerners, and I agreed that I am a westerner and it has not happened to me. Whether it happens to other westerners, I just don’t know about that, but I have never been expected to give a bribe at NAIA before.

              • John Miele says

                Bob: In as many times as I have been in and out of there, I have never been asked for a bribe to an official.

                What they may be referring to is that for a while, there were porters hanging around the taxi queue looking for handouts for holding open the door for you or helping the driver load the baggage. They have largely been moved out of the area, though you may occasionally run into someone.

                My experience, in fact, is that customs and immigration are watched very closely now, and any attempted bribe might find you in a world of trouble. As everything else, with so many war stories on the web, this stuff gets way overblown.

                The tickets to enter the terminal are indeed partially a security issue, but it also serves anouther purpose: Keeping out the touts and hangers on that WILL solicit for bribes. In other words, without a ticket, they will not let you in because you have no business being there. Anyone who has flown to airports in Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, or other like places will know what I am talking about. Todd is on the mark with one part of his comment: There is quite a bit of naivete among many travellers, and it is easy for those who have never travelled to developing countries to draw conclusions like were drawn in the original article comments.

                That said, as a former very frequent traveller to NAIA, it needs much improvement, and I still have many issues, generally disliking the place intensely. However, bribery is NOT one of the problems.

            • Bryan G says

              Never been approached for a bribe in 25 years – it may be a bit of a shambles but it appears to be incompetence rather than corruption. In spite of all the faults with the terminal,some of the old PAL technical people I worked with were excellent and good people to boot.

              • says

                I am sure they were some good people, Bryan. There are some bad people in the Philippines, I guess… but the vast majority are great!

        • Don says

          My experience was crossing the road to go to the hotel transport, a guard said I cannot cross and demanded money. My Pinoy colleague intervened. Not sure if you call this a bribe or shakedown.


  47. David L Smith says

    Ah ok Bob
    sorry for the slight misquote…yes i had a feeling it might be a national security exercise.

  48. Bryan G says

    If you think that 3 months for toilet paper is bad ,what do you think of a security man appearing in my office saying he had just been assigned to look into the theft of an aircraft engine part – it had been reported stolen 11 months previously! When I asked him why the delay he said ‘I came as soon as I was assigned’. Needless to say the part was never found – a $50,000 item. Nothing ever happens quickly at NAIA.

      • Ricardo Sumilang says

        Eleven months previously while flying over the Pacific Ocean, I was pretty sure I heard the PAL pilot announced over the PA system: “I’m sure everyone noticed the loss of an engine, however the reduction in weight and drag will mean we’ll be flying much more efficiently now.”

  49. Bruce Michels says

    Thanks BOB & Company;
    You are really painting an amusing picture of NAIA just as I’m getting ready for a trip there In Oct. Talk about cost cutting operations WOW!! I heard of bring your own beer & Peanuts, but bring your own TP is a new one on me for an international airport.
    So I guess the ceck list goes as follows.
    Toilet Paper Check
    Extra pessos Check
    Extra vacation time for delay Check
    Change of Clothes in hnad bag due to lost baggage Check
    Heck This is priceless Check thanks for the heads up

    • says

      Hi Bruce – Ha ha… amusing? I don’t find anything funny about it! 😉

      I do hope you have a great trip! Look at the bright side, Bruce… by October they should have water, toilet paper and soap… or so they say!

  50. Norman Sison says

    My family and I went to Malaysia last week. There was no direct flight to Penang, so we had to take a plane to Hong Kong first. We also had Kuala Lumpur on our itinerary. So that meant going through Ninoy Aquino, HK, Penang and Kuala Lumpur airports. That also meant getting a chance to compare NAIA with three other airports.

    I’ve been to HK before, so I know what to expect there. Excellent. Kuala Lumpur airport was also impressive. Penang is an old airport and kinda felt like NAIA, but water and toilet paper weren’t problems, at least.

    NAIA is really in bad shape. It was beautiful when it was brand new. That was in the 1980s. However, it seems like the airport authorities must’ve been sleeping on the job as the building deteriorated. Utterly disgusting. I’d do more than fix toilets if given the job of fixing up that stupid airport. Redecorate the damned place if I have to.

  51. JR Tingson says

    Hi, Bob!

    I frequently travel to Japan on business trips and it’s always that Terminal 1 is my terminal of embarkation. And it’s really shabby compared to where I’ve been: Hong Kong International and Kansai International in Osaka, Japan. (Those are two of the best airports in the world, so you can imagine the contrasts between NAIA Terminal 1 and those two world-class airports.). I really think P. Noy should really focus on a major “re-building” of this important port of entry to our country if he’s really serious on infrastructure development. De-commission it if necessary, and for the meantime, gradually transfer flights to Terminal 3 which is a much better and more modern terminal (I’ve been there). Then he could probably use his Private-Public Partnership (PPP) strategy to re-build Terminal 1, which is already outdated anyway. He could even welcome foreign investments to re-build this old terminal, but just be more careful this time to avoid the scandal still plaguing Terminal 3. Anyway, while he can’t re-build the old terminal or renovate it entirely, then they just make sure the toilets meet the basics! (Surprisingly, there are a lot of hotels and even restaurants around the metro that have much better toilets than the NAIA 1-the terminal of the Philippine capital!).

    Oh well, despite the sorry state of the NAIA 1, and despite having to depart from/arrive in that symbol of neglect, almost every time I leave for trips, I still love my country, the Philippines, and will always be my home. But just like any home, it needs to be re-decorated or renovated from time to time, especially if you expect visitors to come. Isn’t it?

    Cheers! :)

  52. HarryTheHorse says

    I’m suprised nobody has suggested flying into C2 or better still clark airbase if you wanna avoid the chaos of Manila altogether. Budget airlines service Clark and is alot cheaper than PAL if you can get through it without bribing security to let your asawa/gf through. NAIA is still a work in progress but with the completion of T3 and the proposal of an MRT extension to the airport, they’re getting there

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