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On immigration lines at NAIA Terminal 1 – again

Much has been said and written about the congestion at the immigration area at the Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport. My most recent experience was a mix of good and bad as the lines were quite long prior to my departure for Bangkok.

A very crowded immigration area when I joined the line. Note how far I was to the immigration booths and the meandering arrangement to maximise the space for queued travellers. I reckon that it took me almost an hour to get to a booth. Perhaps the airport can place some signs indicating how much time is estimated for one in line to get to the front? I wrote about this back in 2014 and proposed something similar to what I saw at airports like Narita and Incheon.

 

Meanwhile, the lines were shorter and faster upon my arrival a week later as shown in the following photo:

Believe me these lines are shorter and faster moving. There were many immigration personnel the night of my arrival including an old friend from high school. Only, there were only 2 plane loads of passengers so it will definitely be worse during the peak hours when larger aircraft with more passengers arrive at the terminal.

 

It is a good thing that the airport is installing machines for express lanes soon. That will surely expedite processing for, at least, Filipinos returning from abroad. I think the departures would be quite tricky since there are many requirements particularly for workers leaving for their overseas assignments as well as government employees who require travel authority (TA) for them to travel abroad for whatever purpose. I think its Terminal 1 that is more notorious for the long queues as I didn’t have similar experience when using Terminals 2 or 3. Airport and immigration officials should exert more effort to ensure such congestion is minimised especially as the country targets more passenger traffic through its international airports.

NAIA terminal transfer guide

I was able to get the following photos of a couple of pages from the Philippine Airlines (PAL) inflight magazine Mabuhay. The photos show an airport terminal transfer guide for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), which has 4 terminals. Since I get a lot of traffic and questions about terminal transfers in this blog, I thought it practical and informative to just post these here for everyone’s benefit.

I hope these are helpful!

Road crash at NAIA Terminal 1 parking area

[Warning graphic content]

Last May 30, I was picking up my wife at the airport and heard a loud crash as I was getting my ticket for the NAIA Terminal 1 parking lot. I looked around but could not see anything that could concern me. As I rounded the driveway though, I noticed the vehicles in front of me already slowing down. This was the scene that greeted us:

Van in an awkward position against the bushes of the parking lot fence and after colliding with a parked SUV. Security staff were already there and one person (the driver of the van?) seemed out of sorts.

As I continued my drive, I saw this gruesome scene of a person who was likely hit by the van when it crashed into the limited access gate of the parking lot:

The casualty of the incident was lying on the ground with security personnel apparently more concerned about the damaged gate than attending to the person.

Another look at the damaged gate that the van punched through before finally crashing into the SUV and the bushes as shown in the first photo.

I’m not sure if this incident was featured in the news. It surely is something that would likely be not attract so much attention as it may not be as ‘newsworthy’ as other incidents that have happened recently. That is often the case with road crashes, which seem to be regarded as something typically occurring.

One thing we get and should realize from this is that everyone is indeed vulnerable from road crashes. The casualty in the photo (I assume only one) was likely someone who was there waiting for a relative or a client to arrive. Large groups and even whole families may be found at the airport parking lot as they wait for loved ones to arrive. The victim probably was just wiling his time, even texting people about his status, when tragedy struck that night.

NAIA Expressway – T2 to T3

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post on the NAIA Expressway. This time, I am posting on the trip back from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3. It cost us 45 pesos, which is the same toll fee we paid for the reverse direction. Here are photos I took of NAIA X with some comments on the sections and signs.

Vehicles coming from Terminals 1 and 2 would have to take the on-ramp after the intersection of NAIA Road and the Paranaque-Sucat Road (Ninoy Aquino Avenue) and just before the intersection with the Domestic Airport Road.

That’s the Park’N Fly building that is located at the corner of the NAIA Road-Domestic Road intersection.

Vehicles bound for Terminal 3 and the Skyway should keep right.

Traffic will merge with those coming from Macapagal Boulevard.

Speed limit and signs for merging traffic

The three lanes include the merging lane at right.

Noticeable along the NAIA X is the lack of shoulders. Although the lanes appear to be wide, drivers may become uncomfortable when two vehicles are side by side due to the perception of constricted space.

There are lots of reflectors installed on the media barriers. There are also a lot of ad space with tarps installed on each lamp post along the expressway.

Sign informing travelers of the toll plaza coming up ahead.

Directional sign guiding vehicles bound for the Skyway or Terminal 3. My colleagues and I agree that instead of just stating “Skyway”, the sign should state “Skyway/C5/Nichols”. Travelers who are not heading south and unfamiliar with the NAIA X off-ramps would likely take the Terminal 3 exit and end up passing through T3. There is actually another off-ramp leading to Andrews Avenue and eventually Sales Road (formerly Nichols) so you don’t have to pass through T3. We made that mistake and ended up going through T3.

Toll plaza prior to the T3 exit ramp

Section just after the toll plaza

Off ramp

Standing vehicles right next to the off-ramp with their drivers likely waiting to fetch arriving passengers. It is practically impossible to make a hard left to avoid going into T3 so you have no choice but to go through the terminal via the departure level (elevated)  or the arrival level (ground).

NAIA Expressway – T3 to T2/T1

Last Friday was our first time to use the NAIA Expressway. This was one of the major projects under the last administration and under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program and became operational last year after being delayed (It was not operational during the APEC summit in 2015.) for some time. I also commented on the need for NAIA X in one post before as I preferred to have a transit system instead. NAIA X is basically and mostly beneficial to cars and not necessarily for public transport. It also practically limits if not eliminates the possibility of having elevated transit (e.g., monorail or AGT) to connect the 4 terminals among them as well as to areas outside the airport zone (BGC, Makati, etc.).

I thought this post would be a useful one for travelers especially those coming in and out of the airports at this time of the year. A lot of people are departing or arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), which is a main gateway to Metro Manila and adjacent regions. It can get congested along the roads between the four terminals of the airport and since there is not internal transport system linking them, travelers would need to travel along public roads. It cost 45 pesos (less than 1 USD) for the stretch from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 (same if you’re headed for Terminal 1), and I thought it was well worth it considering it can really be quite congested between the 4 terminals. That congestion has already victimized a lot of people before with many missing their flights. But then perhaps one major cause of that congestion was the construction of the NAIA Expressway?

Entry ramp across from Terminal 3 and before the Sta. Clara church at Newport City

Toll plaza where travelers pay upon entry to the tollway

Just before the toll plaza where most booths are for mixed ETC/cash transactions

Upon exiting the toll plaza, travelers have to deal with multiple lanes merging into two

Two-lane section with neither shoulders nor “elbow room”

  Directional sign providing guidance especially for vehicles headed to Terminals 1 &2

Directional signs for vehicles bound for Cavite and Macapagal Blvd (left) and Terminals 1 or 2 (right)

The tollway section goes underneath the section headed towards Macapagal Boulevard and the Coastal Road

The lane from Terminal 3 merges with another from the Coastal Road

Signs showing which side to stay along towards either Terminal 2 or 1

Fork in the road – the tollway branches our to either Terminal 2 or Terminal 1

Off ramp towards Terminal 2

Next: Terminal 2 to Terminal 3

NAIA Terminal 1 departures – some updates, Part 2

This is a continuation of the previous article providing updates on NAIA Terminal 1. The terminal is currently being renovated and what used to be the most maligned terminal in the country has improved both in terms of facilities (including the toilets!) and processes (immigration was efficient when I passed through). Here are more photos of the terminal from my recent trip.

IMG10847-20150503-0714The same Duty Free shops were there. The lighting was basically the same but area seems cleaner than before.

IMG10848-20150503-0714There are few Duty Free shops are T1 compared to other international terminals, which are like shopping malls in terms of selections (e.g., Changi, Hong Kong, etc.).

IMG10849-20150503-0719Many areas have been cordoned off for the renovation works at the terminal.

IMG10850-20150503-0719A welcome sight for many, especially those wanting to have a decent cup of coffee or tea would be the Starbucks at T1.

IMG10851-20150503-0720One of the new concessionaires at Terminal 1 is a welcome sight to passengers who before had to make do with food and drink stands that weren’t as attractive.

IMG10852-20150503-0721Another new concessionaire is this coffee shop at T1 offering what looked like fairly prices (for an airport) drinks, sandwiches and meals.

IMG10853-20150503-0727The corridor to our boarding gate has been repaired and cleaned. The carpets no longer looked filthy and were not smelly.

IMG10854-20150503-0728Japan Airlines aircraft docked at T1 sporting its original (retro) logo

IMG10855-20150503-0728Vacant slot and available airbridge at T1

IMG10856-20150503-0728Another look at the renovated and cleaned corridors to the boarding gates

IMG10857-20150503-0728A China Southern Airlines plane at NAIA Terminal 1

IMG10858-20150503-0729Passenger lounge under renovation

IMG10859-20150503-0729Shared lounges for First Class and Business Class passengers of several airlines

IMG10861-20150503-0730Stairs and escalators to the pre-departure area and boarding gates

IMG10862-20150503-0730Souvenir shop at the pre departure area

IMG10863-20150503-0731Final baggage inspection before the waiting area near the boarding gate

IMG10864-20150503-0734Boarding gate for my flight

IMG10865-20150503-0735There were plenty of available seats as passengers only started to arrive at the pre departure area. The seats were basically the same ones here when I last used T1. Though not needing to be reupholstered, these require proper and regular cleaning considering all the people who have gone through the airport.

I will post again soon on Terminal 1 but from the arrival perspective.

NAIA Terminal 1 departures – some updates, Part 1

The long-delayed renovations to the Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 was finally undertaken a few months ago. The much maligned airport terminal has been dubbed as the worst terminal in the world, with poorly maintained facilities including dirty toilets. It is certainly not the worst airport in the country but fails as a international gateway. Here are a few photo I took recently upon checking in for a flight.

IMG10839-20150503-0609The main departure lobby seems so spacious with significantly fewer passengers now using the terminal. Many major airlines have transferred to Terminal 3 including Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta and Emirates.

IMG10840-20150503-0609They must have changed the lighting as the area is not as gloomy as before.

IMG10841-20150503-0610Proper illumination plus what looks like recently sanded and polished marble equals a more refined departure lobby.

IMG10842-20150503-0610Even the check-in counters have been renovated.

IMG10843-20150503-0610Other counters are vacant due to the transfer (temporary?) of other airlines to Terminal 3.

IMG10844-20150503-0652Japan Airlines counters opened just in time and the queues were orderly.

IMG10846-20150503-0653Business class counters accommodated economy passengers whenever they were available (not processing business class passengers).

More on the renovations in the next post!