Caught (up) in traffic

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Monthly Archives: November 2013

NAIA Terminal 2 international check-in

I took a few photos near the check-in counters at NAIA Terminal 2 as I myself checked-in for a flight to Bangkok. There was less confusion now compared to the last time I used PAL for an international flight and their ground staff were relatively unexperienced. This was the result of PAL rationalizing their workforce and opting for outsourcing ground services prior to San Miguel’s takeover of the financially-challenged full service airline. During the transition period, queues were longer as service times at the check-in counters were longer. Ground staff took some time to process each passenger as perhaps they had little training (if any) and thrust into the real work provided an initial shock that translated into slower services.

IMG07391-20131120-0628Passengers checking-in at NAIA T2. There are no internet check-in booths (for those who already checked-in online and would just drop-off their luggage) or automated check-in machines at Terminal 2. PAL needs to work on these services for more efficient services at the terminal.

IMG07392-20131120-0633A single queue with multiple servers means more orderly services for passengers. This is actually something that Philippines immigration should implement in all airports whether for departing or arriving passengers. I don’t get it why for departures, immigration can implement this simple system resulting in more efficient processing for travelers while the same cannot be implemented for arrivals.

IMG07388-20131120-0625Passengers lining up to pay terminal fees. NAIA is one of very few terminals still charging terminal fees. Elsewhere, these fees (if any) are already integrated into the plane fares and so passengers don’t need to queue and spend time for another transaction.

IMG07389-20131120-0626Travelers fill out immigration cards before lining up for the immigration counters. There are still many who seem oblivious to this requirement. While some are really the hard-headed type who end up stalling the queue, these people can easily be filtered by immigration or airport staff managing the queues.

Another look at the Iloilo airport – departure

I took the first flight out of Iloilo back to Manila during a recent trip to the city. I also took an opportunity to take some pictures of the terminal including the part when we lined up to enter the terminal. Security was strict (as is necessary for such facilities) so there was a single line to control the inflow of passengers. There’s nothing really new for departures except a few new cafes inside the pre-departure area. The shops prior to the final security check were still closed at the time so I could not do some final pasalubong shopping. I can only imagine that passengers directly bound for international destinations would need to pass through the immigration booths at the terminal.

IMG07323-20131025-0426Queue of passengers entering the terminal – there was a single file for the initial inspection by airport security. Well-wishers are not allowed inside the airport unless there is prior clearance from the airport authorities.

IMG07324-20131025-0450North wing pre-departure area – the shops were already open early in the morning

IMG07325-20131025-0451A glance back to the center of the terminal where passengers emerge from the final security check.

IMG07326-20131025-0451Passengers catching an NBA post-game interview while waiting for the boarding call.

IMG07327-20131025-0452We were initially assigned to board at Gate 3 of the airport terminal.

IMG07328-20131025-0452Cafe near Gate 3 that is also designated as a smoking area.

IMG07330-20131025-0518Later, we were transferred to Gate 5 at the other end of the terminal.

IMG07331-20131025-0518Waiting passengers seated facing Gate 5. There are also cafes and fast food line along this terminal wing.

IMG07332-20131025-0518Designated enclosed smoking area near Gate 5.

IMG07333-20131025-0552Fellow passengers walking on the bridge towards our aircraft.

IMG07334-20131025-0552The first flight out of Iloilo to Manila is via Cebu Pacific. The second flight is via Philippine Airlines whose plane is shown unloading baggage as it arrived as we were boarding our aircraft.

IMG07335-20131025-0552View inside the tube as we proceeded to board our aircraft.

Another look at the Iloilo airport – arrival

I have not been to Iloilo in a while despite having our ancestral home there on my father’s side of the family. It used to be that I was in Iloilo at least once a year and usually during the Holy Week when we had family reunions on Easter Sunday. Perhaps the last time was in 2010 when I gave a keynote lecture to the Metro Iloilo, Guimaras Economic Development Council (MIGEDC) during one of their last seminars under a JICA-assisted project to improve transportation in the area. And so I was quite happy to have an opportunity to travel to Iloilo even for a short stay to have a meeting and do some field work. I was also happy to have an opportunity to take some new photos of the airport, which is now serving as an international airport with regular flights to and from Hong Kong and Singapore.

IMG07238-20131023-0918Arriving passengers pass through a corridor after disembarking through one of the three tubes at the terminal.

IMG07239-20131023-0918The Iloilo International Airport’s control tower as seen from the terminal building.

IMG07240-20131023-0919Direction to the baggage claim area.

IMG07241-20131023-0919Quarantine section along the way to baggage claim.

IMG07242-20131023-0919The corridor leads to a section allocated for immigration for international arrivals.

IMG07243-20131023-0920The immigration booths are manned only when there are international arrivals. Most of the time, these are unmanned as most flights throughout the day are domestic.

IMG07244-20131023-0920The booths look like they were set up only recently when the airport started catering to international flights. There were only two stations, each with a capacity for 2 immigration officials for a total of 4 officers to process international arrivals. I hope they are able to do their jobs efficiently (i.e., quickly but correctly) as the space for queuing is quite limited. There are few international flights, however, and one A319 or A320 planeload would probably not overwhelm 4 officers. Of course, I am assuming there would be that many officers to handle the arrivals.

IMG07245-20131023-0921After going through the immigration area, one proceeds towards the baggage claim area via a staircase, which leads passengers to the ground level of the airport terminal.

IMG07246-20131023-0923There are 2 baggage carousels where arriving passengers can get their checked-in luggage. Carts are provided free for use of passengers.

IMG07247-20131023-0924Luggage of all shapes and sizes are loaded unto the carousel and circulate for passengers to sort through and pick up.

IMG07248-20131023-0929When in need of trustworthy and reliable transport in Iloilo, contact Light of Glory taxi service. Their metered taxi services are the best in the city and the province it is easy to arrange for a vehicle to fetch you at the hotel to any destination within the island. Their drivers practice safe driving so that’s always a plus for those who prefer to take the taxi over the jeepney when in Iloilo. I also noticed that they have a good dispatching system at the airport and at SM City Iloilo – definitely something that we should be replicating in Metro Manila and other cities.

NAIA T3 shops and eats

I had wanted to post about airports again but the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan and the continuing efforts for relief in places affected by the typhoon made me hesitate a bit from doing “business as usual” writing. The past few days though I have seen a demand for information on NAIA Terminal 3 and so I decided to complete an unfinished draft on T3 to add on the information out there on shopping and eating/drinking at T3 once the passengers have passed through the final security check and proceeded towards their respective gates for pre-boarding.

We were at Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 3 last month for a flight to Iloilo. I took some new photos to come up with an update to the pictures I’ve posted in the past on T3.

IMG07228-20131023-0541There are many souvenir shops at NAIA T3 including those selling flip flop sandals, shirts, swimwear, electronics, luggage and various accessories.

IMG07229-20131023-0541There seems to be a lot more options for eating or perhaps sipping a hot cup of coffee or tea while waiting for your boarding call.

IMG07230-20131023-0542There’s a shop selling eye wear (sunglasses anyone?), electric razors and watches.

IMG07231-20131023-0542A popular souvenir shop for shirts is Islands Souvenirs. They have shops or stalls all around the country with each basically selling only designs attributed to the city or island where the shop is set-up. That means Cebu shops/stalls basically sell Cebu-themed shirts, Iloilo shops/stalls sell Iloilo-themed merchandise, and so on. The shirts they sell are of very good quality and don’t shrink after you wash them. I have quite a number of shirts (I used to collect them from my travels.) so I can attest to the quality of their products.

IMG07232-20131023-0603Pondohan” translates into neighborhood “store” or “shop.” It is also more commonly called “sari-sari” store with the term “sari-sari” meaning “variety” and referring to the merchandise being sold at the store.

IMG07233-20131023-0603This stall offers quick meals as well as pasalubong in the form of their take on popular kakanin or rice cakes or puddings. Friends say they also have good coffee.

IMG07234-20131023-0604Colleagues of mine having a quick meal before our morning flight to Iloilo. Beside them are directional and information signs of PAL and Ceb Pac.

IMG07235-20131023-0618We found that there were already other shops and cafes/eateries along the way to the boarding gates at one end of the terminal. I guess with more passengers now using T3, there is also more demand for shops and options for eating at the airport’s pre-boarding areas (i.e., near the gates of this linear terminal building).

Musings while waiting for a delayed flight at Suvarnabhumi Airport

I’m writing this short post as I wait for our overly delayed flight back to Manila from Bangkok. Next to Changi, this is my next favorite airport and I always marvel at the expanse of the terminal everytime I am here. There were management or operations issues when the airport was newly opened (I think I have a post on this years ago) but I guess these have been resolved. Here’s a few photos of Suvarnabhumi International Airport I took while walking away the time until we board the plane.






Back in Bangkok

Back in Bangkok after a year, it was good that we are staying in the Siam Square area where I have become familiar with in the last decade when I seemed to be in Bangkok at least twice a year for official and personal trips. As we took the expressway en route to the city, I took a few shots from the perspective of a passenger of a van traveling along the elevated expressway.

IMG07409-20131120-1453Our hosts arranged transport between the airport and our hotel. This was in the form of a van, with which we traveled to the city via the expressway.

IMG07410-20131120-1453The elevated expressway connecting the airport to the city center is impressive for its capacity. The photo above shows a section with at least 4 lanes and shoulder space. Personally, I could have taken the express rail transit that connects with the BTS Skytrain. The elevated airport railway line is seen along the right side of the expressway in the photo.

IMG07411-20131120-1506Queuing at the toll plaza.

This time around, I’d like to be able to some photos of street scenes in the city. Of course, that includes pictures of paratransit modes like the tuktuk and their motorcycle taxis. Here’s a couple of sample photos of tuktuks I took near our hotel.

IMG07426-20131120-1534Tuktuk running along a city street.

IMG07429-20131120-1535On-street tuktuk terminal.

More on Bangkok transport and traffic in the next posts!

#ReliefPH: Access and needs in many other places

The buzz on the streets and on social media is the focus on Tacloban, Leyte when vast areas and many other towns and provinces have been ravaged by super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). This seems unfair to other cities and municipalities considering Yolanda made 6 landfalls at or near peak strength (as a Category 5 typhoon) with winds topping 225 kph and generating destructive storm surges as it hammered through the central Philippines.

If you have Facebook, one provincial government staff has posted a lot of photos describing the situation in the northern towns of Iloilo where the destruction caused by the typhoon is very clear and to many, still unimaginable. These photos along with all others that can be Googled, Yahooed or found via other search engines or news agencies show the extent of the damage brought about by Yolanda.

Some people say that the islands of Cebu, Panay, Negros and Mindoro are fortunate as principal cities in those islands like Cebu City, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Dumaguete City and Calapan City were relatively undamaged. This is also true, and so the airports and ports in these cities provide direct access to the islands for relief work. Moreover, government agencies and private entities have been able to organize relief activities through these cities and based on various news reports, it looks like a lot of people are already involved in these activities. That goes without saying that more people are still needed to be involved in various capacities for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction work that are expected to be undertaken over a longer term considering the extent of the damages to towns. But given the circumstances for the said islands, there is no excuse for more rapid aid not being able to reach the affected towns in these provinces. In fact, much more is expected where accessibility is no longer an issue and so faster recovery is possible for Panay, Negros, Cebu and Mindoro. In the cases of Cebu and Bohol, it is important to remember that the provinces already are also still reeling from the impacts of the Magnitude 7.2 earthquake that occurred only a few weeks ago.

On another note…Tacloban Airport is still closed to commercial aircraft but the land routes via RORO or the nautical highways are open to traffic or operational. I think the quickest way to Leyte is via the route from Cebu. There are regular RORO and Supercat services between Cebu City and Ormoc City in Leyte. There are other maritime transport services from Bogo City in northern Cebu but I am not sure those services are back to normal. Then there are also access via the Eastern Nautical Route via the Bicol Region and crossing over to Samar Island (Allen) via Matnog, Sorsogon. Many roads still need to be cleared but the main highway (Pan Philippine Highway) including the San Juanico Bridge that connects the islands of Samar and Leyte.

#ReliefPH: Help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

The online news organization Rappler has compiled a list of organizations by which you can course through your help.

Anything that can be spared will be of help to the people affected by super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).

Tulung-tulong po tayong lahat!

Salamat sa mga tulong at dasal para sa mga nasalanta ng bagyo! Pagpapalain kayo ng Maykapal sa inyong pagtulong!

Aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda on transport infrastructure

The last time I was in Tacloban was in April of this year. I was able to take some photos of the airport as well as some roads, in the process capturing images of what used to stand along the roads. I say “used to stand” because the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda (international: Haiyan) has left few structures standing with devastation in Tacloban comprehensive, and reducing many people to desperation.

Following are a few photos of what used to be the airport terminal at Tacloban City. These have been destroyed or badly damaged by the super typhoon and one can see the aftermath of the typhoon in photos on this link.

IMG05962-20130425-0539Tacloban Airport terminal – the terminal was practically destroyed by the typhoon

IMG05961-20130425-0539Tacloban Airport control tower – the tower lost its roof and all the equipment were lost as well

IMG05965-20130425-0544Conveyor belt inside the terminal – saw a photo of what’s left of this machine laying

IMG06001-20130425-1531Tree-lined road to the airport – all of these trees did not survive Yolanda’s winds and the storm surge.

Super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)

Lives will be at a standstill for many parts of the Philippines when super typhoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan) finally makes its presence felt as it takes a path through the central Philippines from tonight until Saturday. The typhoon is already a Category 5 and packing winds above 250 kph. It will be a destructive system as it plows through areas already saturated by rains from a storm that preceded it just a few days ago.  The image below is from Google Earth, showing the approaching typhoon as of early morning of November 7 (Philippine time).

Haiyan 07Nov2013

Transport will surely be affected by this powerful typhoon with airlines already expected to cancel or postpone flights. Sea craft were also already advised against travel given the waves and storm surges expected from the typhoon. Landslides are also expected in mountainous areas where roads will probably be blocked by debris. Trees, poles and others are also expected to be strewn across many roads, limiting access to communities. As such, our disaster councils are on high alert to respond to the challenges that will be brought about by the typhoon’s onslaught.

People in the provinces of Bohol and Cebu that bore the brunt of the recent magnitude 7.2 earthquake are still reeling from the damages from the quake. Many are still living in tents after their homes were destroyed or damaged by the quake and its aftershocks. We can only assume and trust that our national agencies, disaster councils and local governments are prepared to provide immediate relief to those who will be affected by the typhoon including those who continue to defy advisories issued by authorities in order to minimize casualties from such events.