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NAIA

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Today we have a submission from former LiP writer, John Miele.  Thank you John for providing this great article, it will be helpful, I am sure, for many readers!

John Miele

John Miele

Throwaway Ticket Service - The Business that works while you sleep

Back when I was a regular writer on LiP, I wrote a number of articles about NAIA and navigating through the airport in Manila. Those articles are way out of date, and I was thinking about how much has changed since they were written, so, an update.

I probably fly more often than 99% of LiP readers. Indeed, I am in and out of NAIA at least four or five times per month, sometimes more often. NAIA often gets a bad rap in the press, and some of it is justified, but it is, by no means, the worst in the world. In fact, the new improvements have really streamlined getting in an out of the airport and made waiting much more bearable.

So, terminal by terminal

Terminal 1

Terminal 1

Terminal 1

The renovations are pretty much complete. Much more seating. New and reasonably clean restrooms. Much more organized immigration queues. Better lighting. Much better check-in area. More food choices and options. Overall, a huge improvement over the previous incarnation. Additionally, several international airlines have moved to Terminal 3 (ANA, Emirates, KLM, Singapore… I may have forgotten one or two), therefore easing the congestion somewhat. Some of the incredibly annoying taxi touts have been pushed back from the immediate arrivals area. Overall, a 100% improvement.

Terminal 2

Terminal 2

Terminal 2

Philippine Airlines only. Desperately needed renovations are just beginning. I recall in an early article mentioning the terminal that it was easy. This used to be the case. PAL is now growing again and the lack of restrooms, seating, and creature comforts is becoming obvious. (Tip… Use the restrooms outside the terminal… They are new, large, and spotlessly clean.) In my opinion, I avoid it whenever possible. The only saving graces? Two. First, if you have lounge access with PAL, the lounge is renovated and much better. Second, if you need to connect between Terminal 2 and Terminal 3, the shuttle is free and convenient. In my experience, this is the worst terminal for taxi touts and ripoffs. I ALWAYS use the fixed fare white and blue vans at this terminal. Saves tons and tons of hassle and not that much more money (if your time has any value whatsoever).

Terminal 3

Terminal 3

Terminal 3

Still new. Still easy. Tons of food choices before security. Much cleaner. Adequate places to go pee or build a log cabin. The taxi touts have been pushed back out of the terminal, and arrivals are much easier. Check-in can be chaotic, especially with Cebu Pacific… Use online check-in and save yourself the headaches. It takes just a couple of minutes but can save you from large queues (most of the time).

Terminal 4

Terminal 4

Terminal 4

I rarely use this terminal. It is where Air Asia (formerly Zest Air) bases, and I refuse to fly them under general principles, so I cannot comment. Last time I went out of there, it was very small, and very basic.

Some General Observations

There are two main problems at NAIA.

First, the biggest problem is simply getting to and from the airport in Manila traffic. The new expressway will make things 1,000 times easier. In general, I leave home between 3 and 4 hours before my flight from Quezon City. Especially on midday flights, I have occasionally needed every single minute of that time. The situation should now improve considerably now that it will no longer be necessary to take surface streets.

NAIA

NAIA

Second, NAIA has only one active runway that can handle jet aircraft. It is WAY, WAY over capacity. This means that nearly every flight after about 9:00 am is delayed. Sometimes a few minutes. Sometimes for hours. This problem is not so easy to solve, and there are few options other than expanding Clark (no easy connections to Manila… Which is why it did not work when tried before) or the planned airport at Sangley Point (IF it ever gets built). There is no room for an additional runway. President Duterte has stepped in to try and get the government to intervene with the airlines (moving some domestic and most private flights to Clark), but the problem of connecting to Manila still remains (There are VERY limited flights in and out of Clark nowadays. Don’t believe me? Check out the Clark Wiki Page. I have used the connecting bus to Clark from TriNoMa, and it is easy, but only a few buses per day operate. Note also, I arrived at Clark a couple of months ago due to a diverted flight from NAIA. The fare to Quezon City by taxi is over P 2,500. This leaves the bus to Megamall as the remaining option.

So, how much do I have to pay to leave?

Again, a common question. Even though I am no longer very active on LiP, I still get at least one email per month from somebody asking.

If you are a PERMANENT RESIDENT

Note: The fees below are higher if you are flying Business class or First class.

TIEZA Tax (P1,620, pay BEFORE you check in. Note: If you buy your ticket IN THE PHILIPPINES, it is most likely already paid. Look at the ticket T&C’s. Also note: Cebu Pacific NEVER takes this fee in advance).

ECC (Exit Clearance Certificate. P2,880 first departure of the calendar year, P2,170 each subsequent departure. After check-in, bring your boarding pass, passport, and ACR to the cashier at immigration and pay there. They will then direct you to the Diplomat queue for stamping. Note: If you leave and do not pay, you risk abandoning your visa. Do NOT risk this). Those on long term tourist visas need to get this at immigration before heading to the airport. Balikbayans are exempt.

If you are a Philippine Citizen

You just pay the Tieza Tax.

At NAIA, the much maligned, discussed, griped about P550 airport departure tax is now included as part of your ticket (as in most other places). You have always paid it, but it is now invisible. Note: Some airports in the Philippines (Cebu, and GenSan I know for certain) still require a tax paid in cash. The “inclusive” is only NAIA (Possibly also Clark… I cannot remember since I fly from there infrequently and really do not care about 500 Pesos).

Posted in

JohnM

John Miele is a Citizen of the World, having spent time in many locations around the globe. Currently, he finds himself in Manila, but travels throughout the Philippines. John joined the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine in mid-2008.

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John Coldwell
4 years ago

Thanks John. I have a friend coming over from Canada in 2 weeks. This will help him immensely.

Dan Brower
4 years ago

I heard a rumor that the Japanese were planning to build light rail between Clark and Manila. Anyone heard anything about this. We have a condo in Valenzuela City but spend most of our time on our farm in Bataan. Wish I could fly in and out of Clark, traffic is so bad in Manila I have leave the condo 3-4 hours before the flight or be worried that I’ll miss my flight.

John Miele
John Miele
4 years ago
Reply to  Dan Brower

That has been planned for years but nothing has come of it to date

Don
Don
4 years ago

Everyone forgets that NAIA only has one runway. It will never be able to overcome this no matter how much better the terminals and access are.

Floyd Bowles
4 years ago

Good article. I fly a lot also, monthly, and pretty much agree with what he has to say, except the arrivals at T3. It’s not so much the actual arrival, or processing, but getting out of the terminal, and transportation away from the terminal. Yes, traffic is a problem, as always, but with the increase in Intl airlines using the terminal, there hasn’t really been any marked increase in transportation availability at the exit. Taxi queues are extremely long, and, you’re constantly beating off the tout taxi services.(I generally just leave the airport and snag a taxi across the street.)… Read more »

Gary Dadds
Gary Dadds
4 years ago

We are flying into Clark from London on Qatar in two week time, a friend is also flying in on Emerates from Birmingham UK a couple of days before us so it is possible. Looking forward to arriving in Bataan without the hassle of Manila.

PalawanBob
PalawanBob
4 years ago

John
Send me an email.

AJ UK
AJ UK
4 years ago

Hi John

It’s good to see an article from you again and this one is very informative.

I haven’t travelled using terminal 1 for a few years now, in fact I avoided it at all costs, but I am shocked at the improvements! When coming from Korea of Thailand etc. we always tried to use PAL simply because we could get the flights to Davao from the building next door.

Cheers

AJ UK

Karl Mula
Karl Mula
4 years ago

When I flew out last week I was pleasently surprised. I live in a little place called Naawan near Iligan. Cought a CdO bus on the roadside. It dropped me off about 5 km away from the Airport at a bus tetminal especially build for the airport. Shuttles go to the airport every 5 minutes for 50 pesos. The PAL from Cargayan de Oro was dead on time. (Surprise) I had checked in online. Payed the 200 peso tax and dropped my bag off. Although the plane was full, there was no cue in front of the checkin counter one… Read more »

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