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Departure via Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 – Part 1

The MCIA has two terminals with the newer Terminal 2 being lauded as one of the best designed terminals in the country. It has been recognized internationally, too. And this is mainly due to the architecture of the new terminal.

Approach ramp to the departure level of MCIA Terminal 2

Departure level driveway – the area looks spacious but you wonder how it is during the peak season.

The view upon alighting from the vehicle that took us to the airport – note the advisory stating Cebu Pacific departures are via the old Terminal 1.

The walkway leading to the terminal building is very spacious.

Passengers may use the baggage trolley for their convenience in hauling their luggage.

There are seats for travelers and their well-wishers.

One of the kiosks along the corridor leading to the terminal building

The view from the walkway shows the Waterfront Hotel with its tiled roofs and the older MCIA Terminal 1 building (at right in the photo).

A local coffee shop operates out of one of the outdoor kiosks. These kiosks serve both travelers and well-wishers.

Inside, a popular souvenir shop welcomes travelers.

Schedule of departures are shown on one of the screens inside the terminal building.

Info booths of some of the airlines using Terminal 2

The Terminal 2 building offers very impressive architectural details.

There were long lines not because the airport is crowded but because there were few check-in counters open. Even those who have checked-in online and were to drop-off their bags were not spared the queues.

Stained glass windows featuring what appears to be a giant parol (Christmas lantern).

A view of the other check-in counters at the spacious MCIA Terminal 2

I took this photo of the ceiling to show the incorporation of natural lighting elements that allow for less power consumption for lighting particularly during daytime. This is one of the eco-friendly features of the building.

Another view of the long queues for PAL after we finished checking-in.

Airline service and information counters at the terminal – these are for Air Busan and Korean Air. An Air Busan plane figured in a crash recently when it overshot the runway upon landing at the MCIA in bad weather.

Another view of the ceiling and roof

Guidance for passengers are posted at the check-in counters. These include info on items that are not allowed in the check in bags, what are prohibited and will be seized at the airport, and what are allowed only in check in bags. The scale readout is working and can be seen on the counter. Typical luggage limit for domestic passengers range from 20 to 25kg depending on the airline. 

 

Part 2 is coming soon!

What are closed and what are open at NAIA Terminal 3 – international wing

I was able to take a few photos around the pre-departure area of NAIA Terminal 3 before our flight got cancelled. The shops, restaurants and cafes are mostly open including the Duty Free Philippines shop, Bo’s Coffee, and a variety of souvenir shops and eateries in the area. In fact, you can see from the couple of photos I am sharing that practically the whole length of the international wing has a shop or restaurant/eatery on one side. The other side would be the boarding gates and seats for departing passengers.

The travel certainly won’t have an excuse for getting hungry as I guess there will be something for everyone whether you want a drink, a snack, a light meal or a heavy one. The souvenir shops are also a mix of the usual items like delicacies, local crafts, shirts, keychains, ref magnets and the like. If you want something more fancy for souvenirs, there is a Narda’s store here. There are a couple of WHSmith stores for those looking for something to read or even some quick souvenir shopping.

Arrival at Mactan Cebu International Airport

It’s the Undas holidays when people typically travel to their hometowns. In the past, this has been an exodus for the big cities like Metro Manila where most people actually originated from other provinces. It is a common sight for the bus terminals, airports and seaports to be crowded this time of year and prior to November 1 as people travel home. This year is probably the most crowded in many years considering the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted travel the last 2+ years.

This is actually a late post on our travel back in July 2022. It is still relevant as I feature here Cebu’s main gateway – the Mactan Cebu International Airport. We were back in Cebu after almost 3 years and looked forward to a nice vacation. That starts with a pleasant arrival at MCIA that set the tone for a nice break from our work and an adventure for our daughter before school opened (they started in August).

Arriving passengers are greeted by a spacious baggage claim area.

It’s good that the airport did not feel compelled to have every space occupied by something. It makes the passengers feel and appreciate the space, which I thought was a plus for very busy airports like MCIA.

The terminal also has well-maintained tiolets, which is another feature that I think is non-negotiable for such facilities. The toilets are a major part of the first impression of a city/destination for travelers.

Communication companies greet travelers with promos. Globe and Smart offer simcards for visitors. I think these are more for the foreigners or balikbayans who probably need a local number and simcard so they don’t max out their phone accounts while traveling in the country.

People gather around the carousel to claim their baggage. The info board is working and there are signs reminding passengers to carefully identify and claim their baggage.

Many bags look similar and since no one checks the tags/stickers upon exit of the terminal, people should take care in picking up the wrong luggage. It can be an inconvenience to both parties.

This corridor leads to the airline transfer desks.

There’s a preview of one of the restaurants outside baggage claim area of the arrival level of the airport.

Arriving passengers are greeted with a spacious lobby that has two levels of shopping and dining areas.

There are two levels of shops and restaurants. Duty Free Philippines has a branch here for those who have the duty free privileges.

There are seats for travelers and well-wishers. 

The corridors are lines with shops, restaurants and food stalls.

Some shops offer the popular lechon (roasted pig) and other local favorites. [Pardon for the blurry photo.]

The airport transport services are organized and have their own ‘formal’ counters. This is unlike the old times when these had informal stalls outside the airport. You can now more confidently book your car or van or inquire about tourist services at one of these counters.

I no longer took photos of the transport terminal at MCIA. I already posted photos on that in previous articles. It is the same and still efficient, convenient and comfortable to travelers. It is definitely better than NAIA’s and other airports in the country in terms of design.

Another look at the Zamboanga Airport – departure

This is another one of those late posts. I was in Zamboanga City three months ago. I had wanted to see for myself what the airport now looks like and if they were able to complete the renovations on the airport. Here are the photos I took of the departure area of the airport where most of the renovations were being done the last time we were in Zamboanga just weeks before the lockdown in March 2020.

The driveways are still the same and so is the main concourse, which is limited to VIPs. Most passengers would have to cross this area from where they alighted to get to the terminal.

Entrance to the terminal’s departure area

What used to be a crowded, hot and humid check-in area is now spacious, orderly and better-ventilated.

A general view of the check-in area of the airport

It can now accommodate more passengers and travelers will be more comfortable here compared to how it was before.

Cebu Pacific posted this for guidance of passengers in the number of baggage they are allowed to bring according to what they paid for when they bought their tickets.

Cebu Pacific’s check-in counters

PAL’s check-in counters

Entrance to the lounges – airport personnel check the passengers’ boarding passes and mark the seats on the plane to probably see who are already in the lounge and waiting for the boarding call.

Air Asia check-in counters

The shops and eateries that was in the mezzanine are no more. Like the airport in Panglao there are now fewer and limited food options at the departure lounge. Fortunately, there is a stall operated by the popular restaurant-cafe Chinito’s. They have good coffee, snacks and light meals there.

The lounge area remained the same. I did not see any additional seats or areas for departing passengers. The lighting has improved though.

There’s a separate Heroes’ Lounge for those who are from the armed forces. Zamboanga is an important post for the military and you can see drones either flying or on the ground at the air force base in Zamboanga. Andrews Air Base is just across the airport and they share the same runway.

Gate assigned to Air Asia

Gates assigned to Cebu Pacific 

PAL’s gates are just beside the one assigned to Air Asia

A PAL jet preparing to load luggage and freight

Our Cebu Pacific plane uses the more passenger-friendly ramps for the forward door.

I will post more photos of airports once I am able to visit other cities once again. I am already looking forward to traveling to Cagayan De Oro via Laguindingan Airport. And perhaps my first overseas trip since December 2019. Meanwhile, I still have to post photos of Mactan’s newer terminal.

How my students see transport and traffic

With social media and the ascendance or popularity of influencers and the like, we have often encountered assessments or opinions about transportation and traffic. While there are those that make sense, there are more that are of the rant variety. The latter include the self-righteous who seem to relish bashing professionals and government officials while not being able to present much in terms of their own accomplishments. I am aware of my students (including research advisees) being aware of these people and I often see them posting their comments on topics, articles and opinions being shared on social media. For most, their comments and posts on social media show they’re being more informed than most, especially about the state of transportation in the country.

Here are some observations and comments from my students:

  1. One of my students asked me about my take on the public transport situation. I replied that it is unfortunate that public transportation has deteriorated the way it has for the past decades. The current state is not due to recent policies or regulations but a product of various policies, regulations and even trends over so many years. My student countered that perhaps the current officials must not make an excuse of the past in failing to act in the present.
  2. I always read about posts that anchor their arguments on the supposed low car ownership in Metro Manila. These are usually followed by calls for taking lanes away from car use for public transport and cycling. While I agree with the latter, I don’t with the former arguments. A student was curious about my statement in one lecture that we need to validate the numbers because what we see on the streets appears to be inconsistent with the notion of low car ownership. There are other ways, she said, to determine vehicle ownership other than the conventional HIS data. We could probably use the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) that is regularly conducted by the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA). This will show if people own motor vehicles as well as how much they spend for transportation.
  3. I asked my students to critique the plans and implementation of airports in the Greater Capital Region (GCR) also known as Mega Manila, and which is larger than the NCR Plus used to refer to Metro Manila plus Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite. I was not surprised about their assessments as all of them did their homework in the sense that they researched on information and data they could use for their critiques. Most were in favor of developing a new capital airport in Bulacan rather than in Cavite. And many favored the continued operation of NAIA but with reduced air traffic and a different role.

More on these opinions, observations and comments as I try to recall the more remarkable or notable ones.

Have a nice Sunday!

Another look at the Zamboanga Airport – arrival

We traveled to Zamboanga earlier last month and it was our first trip to the city since the first lockdowns in 2020. We were supposed to travel in March 2020 to conduct data collection for a full week but then there was the nationwide lockdown implemented to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. If we were already there when the lockdowns were implemented, we could have been stranded at our hotel and perhaps spent a few weeks to perhaps a month before we could return to Manila.

We disembarked from the plan using the more sophisticated and senior citizen- and PWD-friendly ramps.

It took longer to get down both in terms of distance and disembarking time.

Other stairs and ramps are shown in the background. I recall only Cebu Pacific had these for their aircraft.

Our first look at the renovated Zamboanga International Airport (Aeropuerto International de Zamboanga in the local language – Chavacano) since February 2020. At the time the roof was already falling apart at different locations.

A look back at the ramp

Passengers walk towards the arrival area of the airport

The baggage claim area is practically the same as in 2020. The only notables are the signs encouraging physical distancing as well as the stickers on the floor that designated where passengers were to position themselves.

As you one can see, people no longer really observe social distancing but all are wearing face masks.

A closer and clearer look at the sign and the floor sticker asking people to practice social distancing

The main driveway of the airport remains closed to general traffic. This is used only for special occasions and VIPs.

A look back to the terminal’s arrival area as we walked to meet up with the driver of our service vehicle while in the city.

Photos from the departure/return leg of our trip in the next post.

What are closed and what are open – NAIA Terminal 3 arrival

I previously wrote about what shops and restaurants were open or closed at NAIA Terminal 3. This time, I am sharing photos of the arrival level of T3.

Exiting the baggage claim area, we come upon what looks like the same scenes at the arrival level before the pandemic – lots of people walking around, shops and banks/money changers open for business.

The crowd density was not really the same as pre-pandemic levels but perhaps this was also because we arrived during a relatively off-peak period in airport operations. There were no international flights that arrived at about the same time we landed. Otherwise, there will be a lot of well-wishers or people fetching (“sundo”) arriving passengers.

The exchange rate when we arrived hovered just above 56 pesos : 1 USD.

Most people are wearing masks, which is a good thing considering we are not yet over with the Covid-19 pandemic. I can only imagine how it was when the airports were just reopening and people were also required to wear face shields. And only those who were really traveling were allowed in the terminal.

Most shops and restaurants at the arrival level were open and many people who were mostly waiting for arriving passengers were there to have a meal or snacks.

Walking towards the covered parking areas of Terminal 3, we see familiar fast-food Jollibee and Chowking with their typical patrons/customers.

Still closed is the large Duty Free Philippines shop at the arrival level of T3.

Returning to Mactan, Cebu

This weekend we are in Mactan to take a much needed break after a busy 2 weeks. I will write soon about the travel between Manila and Cebu including the conditions at the airports. For now, here’s a few photos upon deplaning from the aircraft.

A bus waited for us as we disembarked from the Airbus A321
Other passengers wait for the next bus

I look forward to the beach and a few side trips. Our plans for the weekend are quite flexible so its uncertain what places we get to visit or perhaps stay put at the resort where we are staying. I do want to see the completed bridge connecting Cordova with Cebu City (Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway or CCLEX).

More on the trip to Cebu in future posts.

What’re closed and what’re open – shops and restaurants at NAIA Terminal 3

I promised to post more photos about NAIA Terminal 3 yesterday. Prior to entering the pre-departure area, we decided to have our breakfast at the 3rd level of the terminal where most of the stores and restaurants are located. Prior to the pandemic, we ate at the area shared by Chowking, Tapa King and Army Navy Burgers. We also wanted to see which stores and restaurants were open as most of us were traveling via Terminal 3 for the first time since February 2020 (almost 2.5 years ago). Here are photos taken yesterday at the 3rd level. The scenes remind me of how friends described Haneda, Narita and Hong Kong, which also have a lot of shops, stores and restaurants still closed.

The Victoria’s Secret shop is open. So is the Bath & Body Works store across from it.

Some of the

Many of the small stores have closed. One wonders if these will eventually reopen or they will just be replaced by other stores once things get back to ‘normal’.

These used to be stores selling sports and outdoor wear including an Adidas store and a swimwear shop

What used to be a WHSmith convenience store is now boarded up. I assume there are still some items inside unlike the other closed stores where only the shelves remain.

McDonald’s is open and attracts a lot of people looking for that familiar meal.

Some stores selling chocolates and donuts are open. I saw that there are two other Krispy Kreme stores at the pre-departure area of the terminal. One is just after the final security check and the other is at the ground level near Gates 132 and 133.

Max’s is closed. Hopefully, it will reopen once the demand returns.

Chowking and Tapa King are closed. That means your options for no frills, inexpensive meals (particularly all-day breakfasts) are limited at the terminal.

Chinese restaurant Mongkok is also closed.

Army Navy is also closed at this area. They are open at the ground floor pre-departure area.

Even the kiosks are closed.

Ka Tunying’s Cafe, which was also a popular breakfast place, is closed.

Ramen Nagi is open.

What remains open is Mary Grace where you can get really good meals. However, if you’re on a budget, look elsewhere for food. Breakfast here can set you back 500+ pesos, which can cover the meals of 3 people elsewhere.

Kenny Roger’s Roasters is open along with the Jollibee at the same level.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (CBTL) cafe is open as well as the Wendy’s beside it.

I have yet to see which stores and restaurants at the ground floor (arrival area) are still or already open. I hope I can take some photos when we return later this week.

Flying again thru T3

Its been a while since the last travel for work purposes. I used to fly at least once a month for project meetings, seminars, workshops and/or field work. My first flight during the Covid-19 pandemic was for a vacation last April. That was through NAIA Terminal 2 as we took PAL for our voyage.

This will be the first time in almost 2.5 years that I will be flying out of Terminal 3. Here are a few photos as we checked in for our flight.

Queue at baggage drop counters of Cebu Pacific at T3
View from the queue

I will share more photos of T3 in the next posts.