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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.

On a canceled trip due to a typhoon

I was supposed to be traveling with my family to Singapore over the Undas long weekend. That did not push through due to the circumstances brought about by Typhoon Paeng. What could have been our daughter’s first travel abroad did not materialize and we were left with sunk costs from the tickets we had already bought online for Universal Studios and the Singapore Zoo. We also had to cancel meet-ups with friends in Singapore.

This Cathay Pacific plane landed safely before noon and later departed for Hong Kong without incident.

An earlier ANA flight arrived and departed without incident. This one arrived mid afternoon but was similarly grounded due to the typhoon.

The airport announced all flights were canceled just before 6:30 PM. This was a late announcement that some airlines were waiting for. Cebu Pacific apparently had advance information as they canceled all their international flights one after the other around 6:00PM (probably to manage the crowds that would file out of the departure area to reclaim their luggage). We were disappointed that Singapore Airlines did not act immediately and decisively on the matter. We were expecting at least an announcement of when we could expect to be on the next flight. For an airline of their stature, I was also expecting that they could have made arrangements for accommodations due to the great inconvenience brought upon passengers. That was the least they could do if they intended to put us in the next available flight (planes were cleared to operate at 10:00PM that night). Apparently, the typhoon (and its implied acts of nature/acts of God aspect) was also a convenient excuse for the airline (and others, too) to practically abandon their passengers. [Note: A pilot friend intimated that these decisions and behavior by airlines are partly due to policies and actions of the previous administration/government of the Philippines where all the blame was put on airlines for cancellations and they were penalized for acting independently or ahead of government announcements.]

Of course, we later received a series of emails from the airline informing us that we were rebooked to flights the following day. I say ‘flights’ here because these the first email informed us of a flight at 10:00AM. A subsequent email then said we were to be in a 12:00 flight. A third then said that we were to be on a 2:00 PM flight. We got to read these emails around 7:00 AM the following day as they were sent overnight when we were already occupied in finding accommodations during inclement weather. Flabbergasted, we decided to request a refund instead of re-booking and rescheduling our trip. It was already difficult to reschedule as there weren’t any weekends long enough remaining this 2022 and this Undas was the ideal time for a getaway. We’ll try again another time.

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.

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.

Tagbilaran – Panglao Airport Departure

With the recent popularity of my post on the Tagbilaran-Panglao Airport, I was encouraged to write this second part about the airport. Following are photos taken during our departure from Panglao. I took photos from the driveway, the check-in area and the pre-departure area and lounges. I hope this helps my readers including and especially travelers and tourists.

Curbside at the new airport – the area is very spacious and should be able to handle the steadily increasing number of passengers and well-wishers at the airport.

Passengers alight from their vehicles near the Philippine Airlines office at the terminal.

Air Asia ticket office near the terminal curbside

Spacious check-in area – I was just discussing the requirements and standards for check-in counters and frontage to my students this last semester.

Check-in counters for PAL

The check-in counters for Cebu Pacific were crowded when we arrived at the terminal.

Stickers on the floor mark where passengers are supposed to position themselves to comply with health protocols (i.e., social distance).

CebPac has their self check-out portals at the airport for those who have not done their online check-in and to facilitate and expedite check-in procedures.

There’s a separate section for international departures. The airport used to service international flight (before the pandemic). I assume this is where immigration (i.e., passport and visa control) and customs would have been located for International travel.

After checking-in, travelers are greeted by very spacious lounges

This is the ground floor. Visible is the elevator and escalators to the second level pre-departure area for domestic flights. I assume this is a mirror image of the international departures wing.

Unfortunately, there are only two kiosks at the terminal when we were there. One is this stall that sells snacks, sandwiches, instant noodles, and soft drinks and water. There are no souvenir shops or stores for last minute pasalubong shopping.

A view of the tarmac from the lounge

The elevator to the second level lounges and boarding gates.

Stairs and escalators to the second level

One of the boarding gates at the second level

The second level pre-departure area

A look at the ground floor

The other kiosk is by The Bellevue Resort. Their coffee is good but they ran out of food at the time we were there. We thought this was not good considering there were other flights scheduled for the rest of the day and passengers will end up with very limited or no options for meals before their flights.

Another look at the boarding gate and kiosk at the ground level

Another look at the other kiosk at the pre-departure area that sells snacks, light meals and drinks.

Passengers walk towards the tube connecting to aircraft

Bridge connecting the terminal to the aircraft

A PAL plan taking off 

The airport control tower

Baggage being transport for loading unto the aircraft

A family walks to board the awaiting aircraft bound for Manila.

A view of an Air Asia plane that had just arrived and with its passengers just starting to deplane.

This airport is probably one of the better airports in the country now. There is a new airport in Bicol (replacing the old Legazpi Airport) that just started operations recently, which I have yet to visit but is likely better than Panglao in terms of shops and stores. Facilities-wise, this is a modern gateway that should serve the projected number of passengers for Bohol for the next so many years including the expected international operations for the terminal. We are still in the midst of the pandemic but the number of travelers is steadily increasing. And so I wonder how the airport will be once the ‘old normal’ number of visitors return.

They definitely need more shops and stores than the current two kiosks at the airport. They also would need to improve on the ventilation and air-conditioning (it was quite humid inside the airport when we were there – the aircon was not functioning). As a tourist, I am already looking forward to the next trip to Panglao. Hopefully, the airport will be even better on that next trip.