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On the old overnight parking rates at NAIA

I found a couple of old parking tickets from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Both are for overnight parking, which shows how cheaper overnight rates were before. The amounts to be paid then were also simpler to calculate since an overnight is automatically computed as either 40 or 300 pesos. Note that the 40-peso overnight fee was for the open parking lots of NAIA T2 and T3. The 300-peso fee was for the multi-level building of T3. I’ll just put these photos here for reference and those throwback moments.

On the Tacloban airport terminal expansion

Tacloban’s Daniel Romualdez Airport terminal’s expansion has been completed and it now has ample space to accommodate passengers. I took the following photos a couple of weeks ago.

There is more space for the two inspection machines but only one was functioning when we were there. Nevertheless, the terminal now has a more spacious check-in lobby.

The check-in frontage remains the same with the same number of counters for each of the carriers. However, there is more space now for queueing so it is not as crowded as before. Shown are the counters for Philippine Airlines (PAL).

Here is the counter for Cebu Pacific (CebPac); again showing the same counter frontage but with more space for queueing.

There is a perceivable wide area now available in the terminal. That’s the TIEZA booth as well as others for quarantine.

Air Asia Philippines’ check-in counters

The pre-departure lounge is basically “divided” among PAL, CebPac and Air Asia. This is the scene of what you would have seen prior to the completion of the expansion.

Now, there is more space so its not as crowded.

There is a play area for kids as well as a room for nursing mothers (i.e., for breastfeeding or changing diapers). A welcome sight are the refurbished toilets.

The old food stands are gone with the exception of Dunkin’ Donuts. There’s a Goldilocks stand but not one with local goods or delicacies like ‘moron’ for souvenirs/pasalubong.

Another look at the passenger lounge area near the gates.

Here is the expansion area with additional seats and spaces for people with (a lot of) carry-on baggage.

Melbourne airport departure

Here are some photos taken at Melbourne Airport when I traveled to Sydney to spend a few days there prior to returning to Manila.

Airport terminal driveway

One of many machines allowing for self check-in

Automated bag-drop allows one to weigh and check-in luggage. You have to put on the tags on your luggage yourself after they are printed out by the machine.

Fundraiser for seeing eye dogs

The way to the gates is lined with shops

Passengers checking the status of flights

The airport terminal doesn’t seem to be crowded (maybe only during the time I was there?) and you can easily get a seat near any of the cafes/restaurants at the terminal.

A look at the spacious area where passengers can have a meal or refreshment while waiting for their boarding times.

The escalators lead to the lower level where there are lounges and a path to the exits

At the lower level are more cafes and shops. I bought myself a pair of shades at the Sunglass Hut there.

There were already many passengers waiting at the gate when I arrived a few minutes before the boarding call.

Vending machines, a donation box for UNICEF and another one of those mother dog and puppy devices for donations for seeing eye dogs.

Melbourne airport arrival

I traveled to Australia recently to attend a symposium on Sustainable Development in Melbourne. As such, I was able to observe and experience transport in a couple of major cities – Melbourne and Sydney. I arrived in Melbourne via Sydney at Terminal 1, which is for the domestic flights of Qantas. Here are some photos upon my arrival at the airport:

Upon deplaning, we proceeded through the shared departure areas with the shops and restaurants to go to the baggage claim area.

Baggage claim area

Guidance for those taking a taxi from the airport

Machine for paying airport parking fees

Taxi queue at the airport – the queue appeared to be long but there were many taxis so it didn’t take long to get one to the hotel. The airport had staff to direct passengers and taxis to the designated berths.

I will be writing more about transport in Australia in future posts. It is always a good thing to experience transport in cities abroad. And of particular interest for me when I was in Melbourne and Sydney was their cycling facilities so I will also feature those in future articles.

Mactan Cebu Airport taxi terminal

I wanted to post about the new taxi stands at the Mactan Cebu International Airport as early as September of last year but I didn’t have good photos to show in the article. Last December, however, I was able to get a load of pictures during 2 trips to Cebu. The terminal at the arrival level of the airport is basically divided into 2 stands – the White Taxi Stand and the Yellow Taxi Stand. Here are the photos of the taxi terminal at Cebu’s airport.

2015-12-08 10.25.25Covered facilities allow for all-weather queuing of passengers.

2015-12-08 10.25.52White taxis are regular taxis while the yellow ones are ‘airport taxis’ charging higher fares.

2015-12-08 10.25.56 The lines for the white taxis are definitely longer and this is basically due to the lower fares charged by regular taxis.

2015-12-08 10.26.01Obviously, there are more regular (white) taxis than yellow taxis so the queue proceed well and the waiting times are not so long.

2015-12-08 10.26.35 There are 5 spaces for taxis but everyone seems to be queuing for the first one. The dispatchers could do better to make the lines go faster.

2015-12-08 10.26.51That’s the queue behind us, all going for the regular taxis.

2015-12-08 10.29.03If the queue for the white taxis is proceeding at an acceptable pace, few people take the yellow taxis. Vehicle-wise, yellow taxis are newer and better maintained models. My observation (based on limited experience) is that yellow taxi drivers are also less reckless than drivers of white taxis.

2015-12-08 10.29.15There are two booths for app-enabled taxis like Grab Taxi and Easy Taxi. Passengers for these may proceed to the area near the booths and board their taxis at the bays near them.

Here are a few photos from the second trip last December when we experienced long queues for taxis. I think we arrived during the morning peak at the airport when a couple of international flights using wide-bodied planes arrived.

2015-12-09 13.05.20A very long queue for the white taxis greeted us when we got out of the airport terminal.

2015-12-09 13.06.00There was a constant arrival of taxis but the demand was just too high; resulting in the long queue.

2015-12-09 13.15.27There is a priority lane for senior citizens, expectant mothers and families with children. Dispatchers make sure that these people get their taxis ahead of others.

Airport taxi at NAIA?

I have been hearing and reading a lot about horrible experiences of various people including friends on airport taxis. All the stories seem to be about getting a taxi at NAIA where airport management has “accredited” one or a few companies to provide airport taxi services. This exclusiveness has clearly become disadvantageous to many passengers who have not previously arranged for someone to pick them up at the airport (e.g., a relative, a friend, his/her company vehicle, or maybe transport service from the hotel where they will be staying). The coupon taxi services, however, is usually the safer bet for those unfamiliar with Metro Manila as regular meter taxis often “prey” on travellers who are not knowledgeable about fares and traffic conditions. Often, one would have to negotiate for fares though there are honest cab drivers who would do their jobs without haggling or demanding for tips.

Allow me to cite a number of examples in international airport terminals abroad and in other Philippine cities where getting a taxi at the airport is relatively straightforward and stress-free:

1. In Singapore’s Changi Airport, you can easily get a cab at any of the terminals. You just get into the queue (if there is any) and get the next available taxi. The drivers do not discriminate among potential passengers and the only question asked is about the destination of the passenger. Sometimes, the driver will ask about a passenger’s preferred route as there are toll roads between Changi and the destination. There are bus and rail services connecting the airport to the rest of the city-state and many passengers also choose these options.

2. In Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, you can also get a taxi at the queue at the basement level. There are airport taxi counters at the lobby as passengers come out of the arrivals but these are the more “exclusive” companies and charge more per vehicle. However, if you are a group comprised of at least 4 people, then it would be cost effective to engage these companies as they can provide a larger vehicle (e.g., van) that can be more comfortable than a regular taxi. This is particularly recommended for people who have a lot of luggage like families. Otherwise, you can take a regular cab at the basement level queue. These are metered taxi but some may negotiate a fixed (and therefore higher) rate. Transfer to another if you don’t agree with the driver.

3. In Cebu’s Mactan Airport, the taxi bay is a just a few minutes walk from the arrival area. There is a queue and a security guard issues a ticket with information on the taxi (license plate number and company) that he gives to the passengers as reference should there be complaints on the driver as well as in cases where some belongings are left in the taxi.

4. In Iloilo, there are many taxis to choose from once you get out of the airport terminal. There are many taxi service counters just outside the arrival area and passengers can engage any of these companies for a ride to the city or other destinations. My Ilonggo friends will definitely recommend Light of Glory as their taxi company of choice. This company is highly regarded for their quality of service that includes honesty among its drivers. You can also contact them to make arrangements for transport between your hotel/accommodations and the airport.

5. In Davao, there is a regular taxis queue just outside the terminal building and the city has a transport enforcement unit that is stricter than most LGUs. This ensures that taxis will likely comply with traffic rules and regulations including the safe conveyance of passengers to/from the airport. These are metered taxis though there will always be taxi drivers who will attempt to negotiate fares or tips with the passengers. This will not be done at the airport as airport or city staff will be on watch at the terminal. Instead, the negotiations are done once the passenger is inside the taxi and leaving the airport.

Of course, in the international airports I mentioned, there is the option of taking the airport express train instead of taking a cab. Both Changi and Suvarnabhumi, for example, have excellent rail connections, and more experienced travelers would probably take these train services over taxis as they are less expensive and allow for shorter travel times (i.e., taxis can be caught in congested roads especially during peak periods).

NAIA desperately needs good options for public transport such as airport limousines or more dependable taxi services. Sadly, getting a taxi in Metro Manila is basically a “hit or miss” affair. There is a 50/50 chance that you will get a good taxi driver so there is an equal chance that you will get a bad one. At the airport, there might be a higher likelihood that one can get a bad taxi if we assume that taxi drivers might be  deliberately taking advantage of potential passengers who are not familiar with Metro Manila and its taxis. As mentioned earlier, more experienced travellers would likely have pre-arranged transport between the airport and their destinations. So the coupon taxis would have to do for now and until there are better options for transport including more reliable regular metered taxi services.

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.