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Taxi stands and queues at NAIA Terminal 3

I saw a photo going around recently in social media showing the long queue for taxis at the NAIA Terminal 2. That’s actually not as bad as how the queues at Terminal 3 can be. Terminal 2 only serves Philippine Airlines’ international and trunkline (read: Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod, etc.)flights. PAL has transferred many of its domestic flights to Terminal 3. Terminal 3 serves all the flights of Cebu Pacific plus several major international airlines that have transferred there from Terminal 1 including Delta, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and ANA. Following are a few photos of the rental car, fixed rate taxi and metered taxi stands at Terminal 3. These photos were taken last May, and still within the ‘summer’ peak period of travel in the Philippines. I was there to fetch the wife who was arriving from the US via Narita.

IMG_1550Rental car booths along the island across from the arrival curb and driveway of NAIA Terminal 3.

IMG_1551More rental car and limousine booths (many unmanned) just outside the arrival level. Note the car rental poster/sign affixed on one of the columns.

IMG_1552 Fixed rate coupon taxi stand

IMG_1553Published taxi fare rates (as approved by the LTFRB) may be found in the area. I apologise for the photo not being clear enough for my readers to see the rates.

IMG_1554Long queue for the metered (regular) taxis at NAIA Terminal 3

IMG_1555Metered taxi stand at the NAIA Terminal 3 arrival area

Passengers now also have the option to take the so-called premium airport bus services operated by logistics company Air21. There is also an airport shuttle service connecting NAIA’s four terminals. If staying at a hotel, people may also opt to avail of their hotel’s vehicle service. Also, Uber is now allowed to fetch people at the airport (I don’t exactly understand how authorities could know before if a car was Uber.) after being banned (duh?) from the airport.

NAIA Terminal 3 – Newport connector

Currently under construction is a bridge connecting the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 and the Newport City complex across it. Once completed, it will be a convenient physical connection between the airport and the complex of hotels, residential condominiums and commercial establishments. The connection will be at a third level above the NAIA Expressway that is currently under construction. Here are a few snapshots of the bridge:

IMG_1511Under construction: a bridge connecting NAIA Terminal 3 and the complex that includes, among other, the Marriott Hotel and Resorts World Manila

IMG_1510Another snapshot of the bridge under construction. The dome in the background is of the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus across from Terminal 3.

NAIA Terminal 3 international departure wing

My recent trip to Singapore allowed me to take a few photos of the departure area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3. This is the same terminal that had a blackout recently that drew a lot of flak from a lot of people, and for which the airport manager was supposed to have attributed to bad luck (malas). I don’t agree as many of the problems of the NAIA terminals are the outcomes of poor management that, in other airports in other countries, would result in the manager’s firing.

IMG_1056Directional signs and spaces reserved for future shops greet the traveler as he/she enters the area after the final security check.

IMG_1057A view of the international departure wing’s expanse with an electric cart for passengers requiring transport assistance

IMG_1058There are now more duty free shops at this wing unlike a few years ago when I was traveling frequently between Manila and Singapore.

IMG_1059Passengers walking past the shops

IMG_1060There are more choices now for duty free shopping and those returning to Manila may want to take advantage of the ‘travel light’ promo of Duty Free Philippines, which gives returning passengers 5% discount on their purchases. Items will be collected upon their return to Manila.

IMG_1061Seats for one of the gates at NAIA T3’s international departure wing

IMG_1062There are still TVs there and all of them were showing replays of NBA games

Shopping at NAIA Terminal 3

Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s (NAIA) has four passenger terminals. Of these, Terminal 3 is the largest and the building space has not been fully utilized. Due to the legal issues surrounding its construction, it took so much time for the terminal to be developed so it could be to its full potential. Last week, when I fetched my father who was flying in from Iloilo, I had more than enough time (his flight was delayed by more than 2 hours) to go around and see the new additions to the airport. These included new restaurants and shops at the south wing of the airport. Among the more conspicuous and perhaps newest addition is Kiss & Fly.

Kiss & Fly is found at the departure (3rd) levelof the terminal. The interior looks like a department store in a mall. There is a Starbucks at one of the entrances to the store. I think this is the 2nd Starbucks at NAIA with the first one at Terminal 1’s pre-departure area.

You can now practically do your shopping at Terminal 3. There are many stores selling clothing, shoes, bags, accessories, electronics and toys. The only thing lacking perhaps is a supermarket but then there are at least 3 convenience stores inside that could provide what the other shops couldn’t in terms of food and other items. Of course, there are duty free shops in the terminal, and if you are qualified, many shops offer duty free prices when you present your travel documents. Regular prices are similar to shops at malls but if your timing is right and there is a sale, you can get items for significantly less than the mall prices. So there is no excuse for not being able to get a souvenir for your loved ones or significant others, especially if you are arriving at Terminal 3.

Transit Lounge at NAIA Terminal 3

While waiting for the wife to arrive at Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), I decided to go around the terminal again. It had been a while since I had explored the terminal and the delayed arrival of the plane meant I had a lot of time to burn. It seemed too lazy an option to just sit down and have some food and drink at a cafe or restaurant when you can exercise by taking a walk around the terminal.

At the fringes of Level 4 where most of the shops, cafes and restaurants are located, I stumbled upon a newly opened transit lounge. The Wings Transit Lounge is dubbed as the Philippines’ first airport lounge. It opened last May and offers travelers and even well-wishers facilities similar to that of hotels. It is actually a hotel within the airport that gives people the option of a more comfortable rest or sleeping area (accommodations). This can be a good option for people in between flights (transfer passengers) especially those arriving late at night and with long layovers before their connecting flights at the same airport terminal or the other terminals of NAIA.

2015-06-21 13.10.24The Wings Transit Lounge opened last May at NAIA Terminal 3

2015-06-21 13.10.00Dining or work area

2015-06-21 13.09.55Pantry and dining area – the bright lights in the background is from the area across the corridor from the transit lounge that has a great view of the tarmac and runway; parts of NAIA Terminal 3 that have yet to be occupied (and which are prime areas for restaurants or cafes).

2015-06-21 13.09.47Lounge chairs for napping, waiting, a massage or a manicure/pedicure

2015-06-21 13.08.20Double deck beds at the family room – note also the personal reading lights for each bed.

2015-06-21 13.07.55Another photo of the double deck beds at a family room. I wasn’t able to get photos of their twin and bunk rooms as these were occupied when I went around the transit lounge.

2015-06-21 13.07.25Common toilets and showers for those wanting to freshen up before or after a flight.

2015-06-21 13.06.37Capsules include blinds for some privacy

2015-06-21 13.06.27Here’s one capsule unit with a safety deposit box and reading light.

2015-06-21 22.30.02Room and lounge rates plus rates for other services offered by Wings Transit Lounge

The rates appear to be expensive at first glance but should be considered in the context of convenience. The transit lounge provides services (mainly accommodations) that, although hotels in the area can also provide, are offered right there at the terminal itself. You can google the airport hotels to compare rates. The nearest ones to NAIA Terminal 3 are the Marriott Hotel, Maxim’s Hotel and Remington Hotel.

Overnight parking at the NAIA T3 multi-level parking facility

Many have been asking about the overnight parking rates at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 and I had wanted to write on this but just didn’t have the material to share with readers of this blog. I had wanted to verify for myself the overnight parking rates at Terminal 3 but had not used the Terminal for my flights last year, which had me using all except Terminal 3 for my travels. Last weekend, I finally had the chance to check the parking rates as I left my vehicle at the airport for a weekend getaway before school (and work) starts for the second semester at the university.

IMG10027-20150114-0644Parking tickets issued at NAIA Terminal 3’s multi-level facility.

The parking fee is 300 pesos per night. This is a fixed rate and you don’t have to pay additional fees for when you exceeded the hour when you parked your vehicle. That is, even if you parked your vehicle at 7:00 AM the previous day and took it out at 5:00 PM the following day, you still get charged 300 pesos and NOT 300 pesos plus a charge for exceeding 24 hours parking.

For those parking at the multi-level facility, one just has to drive through the arrival level (ground) of NAIA T3 and turn right near the end of the driveway to enter the facility. I haven’t checked if the access at the departure level is open (perhaps a reader can verify this?) but they do have security checks between the parking facility and the terminal itself so people can go directly to the parking area without dropping off their companions and luggage at the terminal. You don’t have to drop-off your companions and luggage at the departure level and then go around the airport road again just so you can park your vehicle at the multi-level facility.

NAIA Terminal 3 multi-level parking

The multi-level parking facility of NAIA Terminal 3 is open. I have not been to T3 in a while and saw that the multi-level parking was operational only upon returning from a trip to Palawan last week. Last night, as I maneuvered to the open parking lot prior to fetching a friend at the airport, I was directed by airport security to the multi-level facility upon being informed that the open parking lot was already full. Following are a few photos of the multi-level parking at NAIA Terminal 3.

 IMG09541-20140930-1854The entrance and exit to the multi-level parking facility is at the end of the arrival level driveway.

IMG09543-20140930-1855Motorists should keep to the right heading towards the parking building. There are two lanes clearly marked for the entrance.

IMG09544-20140930-1855There are two booths but there is currently a desk where staff issue parking tickets to users.

IMG09545-20140930-1901Driving inside the facility, one realises that it is spacious and could handle the vehicles generated by the additional flights begin served by T3.

IMG09546-20140930-1902Not many people seem to be aware that the parking building is now operational based on the many spaces still available around the multi-level facility. Most people still use the open lot across from the terminal unless its closed off (full) and security staff direct them to the parking building.

IMG09547-20140930-1902Most driveways are 2-way and so provides good traffic circulation inside the facility.

IMG09548-20140930-1903The spaces nearest to the entrance to the terminal are obviously the first ones occupied.

While it took some time for authorities to finally open the multi-level parking at T3, it is a most welcome development considering many international airlines have been transferring operations to T3. These include Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines among others that will be using T3 as T1 is being rehabilitated. The rates are the same as the open lot (I paid PHP 40.oo for almost 3 hours parking.) and because your vehicle will be basically indoors, it is a good option for trips where you opt to leave your car at the airport (park & fly). NAIA charges PHP 200 per night but I think this is a very reasonable rate assuming that this is a more secure facility compared to the open lot.

Full airport operations at NAIA 3?

Articles came out over the last two weeks about Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 3 finally going on full airport operations with the transfer there of five international airlines from Terminal 1. These airlines are (in alphabetical order) Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, KLM and Singapore Airlines. I’m not really sure about the terminology or how DOTC and NAIA wanted to package their press release but wasn’t Terminal 3 already operational and does “full” really mean it being maximized or optimized?

This area will be full of people as five major international carriers transfer to Terminal 3

Prior to the transfer of the 5 airlines this August, T3 was already hosting international flights, mostly by local carrier Cebu Pacific, which is classified as a low cost carrier (budget airlines). The other major international carrier operating out of T3 was All Nippon Airways (ANA) but the latter had far fewer flights compared to CebPac.

However, my interest in this “full operations” pitch is more on the other facilities of the airport and not really about the check-in and immigration operations that I am sure have enough capacities to deal with the additional airlines, flights and passengers that will be served by T3 (most booths were not utilized considering the airport served significantly fewer international flights and passengers than T1). I am also not concerned about the other features of the airport like its shops and restaurants (a regular user of T3 would make the observation that shops and restaurants have been increasing over the past years). My worry is that the airport will not have enough parking spaces for airport users.

There is already a parking problem at T3, no thanks to poor public transport services (taxi anyone?) and the absence of anything resembling an airport shuttle or express services (e.g., Airport Limousine buses). I have written in the past about the multilevel parking facility at T3 that has not been opened for public use since the terminal became operational years ago. Granted that there might have been issues with the structure itself, authorities should have also addressed the issues while they were at it fixing the myriad problems of the terminal over the past years. Much of T3’s open parking spaces have been occupied by exclusive airport taxis (coupon taxis) and there are people who have made the observation that many of the parked cars are actually those of people gambling in the casinos of a nearby resort hotel complex. The latter story might be a bit difficult to prove unless there is deliberate data collection of some sort but can be true for some vehicles given the cheaper parking rates at the airport.

Until NAIA becomes public transport-friendly and perhaps a airport shuttle services can be provided for the convenience of travelers, parking will remain as an issue for many especially during the peak periods or seasons. And with the NAIA Expressway currently under construction, I would expect the airport terminals to be more accessible to private vehicles in the future via the elevated system, thereby generating more demand for parking. Are there already proposals for the solution to this problem or are authorities again going to be dependent on the private sector for solutions?

 

NAIA Terminal 3 revisited

I was back at NAIA Terminal 3 to fetch someone who was flying in from Bacolod last Palm Sunday. Going around while waiting for the plane to arrive, I took some photos of the newer shops and restaurants in the terminal. Here they are with a few photos at the waiting area and outside the terminal.

2014-04-13 20.37.12The overnight parking spaces were not yet full. It was a Palm Sunday so I guess many people haven’t taken their vacations yet.  I remember fetching the wife one Maundy Thursday morning and the parking lot was just full of vehicles. I had to park at a slot that required some walking to get to the terminal building.

2014-04-13 20.37.55Taxi station at the arrival level of NAIA – only airport accredited taxis are allowed at this station and many, if not most, are not metered (i.e., do not have or use taxi meters). There is a dispatcher at the station and rates are basically higher than regular metered taxis.

2014-04-13 20.44.50There are more shops, restaurants and cafes at Terminal 3. The old ones are still there but noticeable are the newer shops and restaurants when you explore the 3rd level of the terminal.

2014-04-13 20.44.54The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf branch at Terminal 3.

2014-04-13 20.45.03Wendy’s fastfood restaurant.

2014-04-13 20.45.58Shoes on display at one of the older shops at the terminal that offers a lot of different merchandise like luggage and apparel and accessories.

2014-04-13 20.46.39Victoria’s Secret shop opening soon and likely before other international airlines move to Terminal 3 when renovations for Terminal 1 move to full gear.

2014-04-13 20.48.04This Seven Eleven store is relatively new. There’s a Mini Stop store near the escalator to the 3rd level of the terminal.

2014-04-13 20.50.25The Body Shop store.

2014-04-13 20.50.39Not so many people at the Cebu Pacific domestic check-in counters around 8 PM. At this time, most domestic airports in the country are already closed as they are not equipped for night time operations. Thus, there are few flights at this time likely from the handful of modern airports – Cebu, Davao, Iloilo and Bacolod.

2014-04-13 21.05.51Well-wishers meeting arriving passengers at the spacious arrival area concourse.

2014-04-13 21.28.32Signs provide directions to passengers and well-wishers.

2014-04-13 21.41.20Crowds form at the exits to check passengers filing out of the arrival area. International passengers come out from the left while domestic passengers from the right.

2014-04-13 22.02.27There are more foreign exchange counters now at Terminal 3 and this is likely due to the increased number of international flights served by the terminal.

2014-04-13 22.02.31People go out of the terminal at one of the many exits at ground level. However, there are only two entrances to the terminal at the arrival level where security checks are made.

On the increase in overnight parking fees at NAIA

I’ve been reading some posts on social media complaining about the increase in the overnight parking rates at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). This seems to be a recent development considering the last time we used any of the parking facilities of NAIA was last November 23 when the wife parked to wait for my arrival at Terminal 2. It wasn’t overnight parking but then she said she doesn’t recall seeing any signs announcing changes in the parking rates. The posts I saw through Facebook are for overnight parking at Terminal 3 where the old charges were 50 PHP (about 1.14 USD) per day. This is actually very cheap even considering that parking is on an open lot with marginal security. Even parking lots in Makati, Taguig and Ortigas charge more for overnight parking on open lots.

The new rate is basically 300 PHP per day including taxes, which apparently surprised a lot of people after everybody got used to the 50 PHP/day rate of old. That meant that for a 3 night trip to Bangkok or Singapore, for example, where people left their cars at the airport, they had to fork over 900 PHP instead of the 150 PHP they used to pay for parking. Indeed, that’s a big jump in parking fees!

NAIA’s parking rates can be compared to the parking rates at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is provided in their website. 30 USD (about 1,315 PHP) is charged for 24 hours for use of the multi-level/covered parking structures at the airport. Meanwhile, open lot parking charges 12 USD (about 526 PHP) per day. Suddenly, NAIA’s parking charges don’t seem to be expensive beside the 526 PHP/day charge at LAX. However, these rates are arguably in a country where there are higher wages and standards of living and so perhaps a fairer comparison would be for parking in a major airport in ASEAN. Doing a bit of research online, I found that Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport charges the equivalent of about 341 PHP per day for parking. Singapore’s Changi charges the equivalent of around 701 PHP per day. And Kuala Lumpur International charges the equivalent of about 575 PHP per day for parking. [Note: Rates from the link may not be updated.] These are generally for multi-level parking buildings where vehicles are practically protected against the environment (e.g., rain, sun, etc.).

A comparison is also made for the nearby Park n’ Fly facility, which also publishes their parking rates in their website. The site of the private parking provider states a rate of 340 PHP + EVAT (taxes) per day. And this is for a multi-level, covered parking structure near NAIA Terminals 1 and 2. An argument can be made here for the location and proximity of NAIA parking spaces compared to Park n’ Fly but note that the fee for the private entity includes airport transfers with their own vehicle. Compared to this, the NAIA rates are quite expensive considering that it is for open lot parking and for what is perceived as marginal security. In fairness to airport parking security, I have not heard or read about incidents of burglary or stolen vehicles in relation to NAIA parking areas.

And so there are many questions that need to be answered in as far as the sudden and steep increase in parking rates at NAIA. The most important question here is what is the basis for the parking rate increase? It is assumed that the additional monies generated will cover certain expenses like security and maintenance. So there needs to be transparency in where the additional funds will go or how it will be allocated (e.g., repair works towards ultimately opening the multi level facility at T3). Also, perhaps the information dissemination for this rate increase was lacking and therefore ineffective in advising the public about the change. But then there was generally no major uproar over the increase so perhaps those complaining weren’t paying attention or were caught in the transition to the new parking rates. One can even say that certain posts in social media can be qualified as rants rather than objective takes on parking rates.

I would like to think that parking as an amenity should not generally be a revenue generating scheme for the airport. Collected fees should cover operating expenses and excesses can be used to build a trust fund, for example, for future expansion of the facility, but the latter should be clearly spelled out in a plan for the airport. After all, it is in the best interest of the public, the users of the airport, if improvements can justify what they are paying for and how much they are paying.