Ninoy Aquino International Airport

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (IATA: MNL), commonly called NAIA, is the airport serving Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and its surrounding metropolitan area.

The NAIA Centennial Terminal 2 departure hall

Located eight kilometers (5 mi) south of Manila in the cities of Pasay and Parañaque, it is the international gateway for most visitors entering the Philippines and all major airlines in the Philippines have their main base of operations here.

Understand

What is now Ninoy Aquino International Airport started as (and remains) a military base. Built in the 1930s by the Americans as the military-only Nichols Field, civilian operations were moved here from Manila's former airport, Nielsen Field (which today is part of downtown Makati), in 1948.

Originally called Manila International Airport, it was renamed in honor of Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. in 1987, four years after he was assassinated on the airport's runway apron after returning from self-imposed exile in the United States.

The airport's three main terminals became operational within a span of thirty years: Terminal 1 was opened in 1981, Terminal 2 in 1998, and Terminal 3 in 2008. Currently, NAIA is Southeast Asia's fifth-busiest airport, after the airports in Jakarta, Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. However, airport expansion has not caught up with passenger growth and the airport as a whole is set to reach capacity within the next 5-10 years: Terminals 1 and 2 are already operating beyond capacity, and intersecting runways make it difficult to increase capacity. As a result, the airport has developed an ominous reputation for poor infrastructure, long queues, delays, inefficient transit procedures and, more significantly, corruption. In 2011, two people were injured when part of the ceiling at Terminal 1 collapsed.

Terminal 1 - world's worst airport terminal?

A consequence of all this is that Terminal 1 had the dubious distinction of being judged the world's worst airport terminal by the "Sleeping in Airports" website (although some say the brouhaha over the terminal was a result of Filipinos overhyping everything), and passenger opinion of NAIA as a whole is poor, both from Filipinos and foreigners alike. In August 2013, an on-line survey by a hotel booking company rated NAIA as the worst airport in Asia, below airports in Vientiane, Yangon and Phnom Penh and a very long way behind the best, Singapore.

Mactan-Cebu International Airport is further south in Metro Cebu; it is the country's second largest air hub and has many international flights. Many travellers advise entering the country through it instead of NAIA if possible, especially if bound for Mindanao or the Visayas; both the airport and the city are smaller than Manila and easier to cope with. Davao, Iloilo and Clark Air Base in Angeles also have international flights.

Things, however, are set to improve with significant government investment in NAIA. Terminal 1 is currently undergoing a ₱1 billion makeover to modernize facilities and to strengthen the building's structural integrity, while Terminals 2 and 3 will be expanded to support more flights. A planned expressway, as well as a connection to the Manila LRT Line 1, is also expected to improve access to the airport.

Flights

Airport map

NAIA is divided into four terminals, Terminals 1-4.

Although all four terminals are numerically named, two of them also have non-numerical names. Terminal 2 is commonly called the "Centennial Terminal", as it was opened for the Philippine Centennial in 1998, while Terminal 4 was formerly called the Domestic Terminal.

Many airlines that fly internationally into NAIA use Terminal 1. Local airlines use the other three terminals. More precisely, the airline allocation per terminal is as follows:

Terminal 2

NAIA charges a passenger service charge (commonly called the "terminal fee") of ₱550 or its equivalent in US dollars, which must be paid prior to entering immigration. Starting 1 February 2015, this fee has been integrated into the cost of the ticket, although for passengers with tickets issued prior to this date, the fee may still be settled in person either with cash or a credit card and a stub attached to the boarding pass indicating payment of this fee. For domestic flights, the fee of ₱200 is already included in the price of the ticket.

Ground transportation

NOTE: Due to the construction of the second phase of the NAIA Expressway, which will eventually connect the airport terminals to the Metro Manila Skyway system, expect heavy traffic along airport roads, particularly during rush hour and airport peak hours, when travelling by bus, jeepney or car. It is recommended to leave for the airport at least three hours prior to departure while the expressway is under construction, scheduled to last until 2015.

Getting to NAIA from various parts of Metro Manila looks bewildering, but in fact it's relatively straightforward. Because it's only eight kilometers southeast of Manila, it is well-integrated with Metro Manila's transportation system.

By bus

Terminals 1 and 2 are served by eight city bus routes, most of which run 24 hours a day (though with comparatively fewer buses late at night) and all of which serve points along Metro Manila's main road, Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). These buses have a "MIA/Tambo/6-11" sign on the dashboard as well as the route description on the side, and are generally air-conditioned. Fares start at ₱12 (₱10 for students), and students may avail of a 20% discount on bus fares.

Bus routes serving Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminals 1 and 2
Route Terminus Service area
Norzagaray-Sapang Palay-NAIA via Commonwealth, Fairview, EDSA Sapang Palay Bus Terminal, Balasing-San Jose Road, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan Parañaque, Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, San Jose del Monte
Grotto-NAIA via EDSA, Fairview Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, Santa Maria-Tungkong Mangga Road, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan Parañaque, Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, San Jose del Monte
Grotto-NAIA via EDSA, Ayala, Buendia Extension Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, Santa Maria-Tungkong Mangga Road, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan Parañaque, Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, San Jose del Monte
NAIA-SM Fairview SM City Fairview, Commonwealth Avenue, Fairview, Quezon City Parañaque, Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City
Malanday Terminal-NAIA via EDSA, Buendia, Ayala MacArthur Highway, Brgy. Dalandanan, Valenzuela Parañaque, Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Valenzuela
Bagong Silang-NAIA via Maligaya Park, EDSA Gesen Construction Supply, Langit Road, Caloocan Parañaque, Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Caloocan (North)
NAIA-Malanday via EDSA MacArthur Highway, Brgy. Dalandanan, Valenzuela Parañaque, Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Caloocan (South), Malabon, Valenzuela
Lagro-NAIA via Fairview Robinsons Nova Supermarket, Quirino Highway, Caloocan Parañaque, Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Caloocan (North)

Buses to Terminals 1 and 2 stop first at Terminal 2 before proceeding to Terminal 1 through the International Cargo Terminal. The Terminal 2 bus stop is located beside the departures ramp, just after the entrance gate to the offices of the Manila International Airport Authority, while the Terminal 1 bus stop is located just after the departures ramp, across from the short-term parking lot and the Greeters' Area. Note that buses between Terminals 1 and 2 are one-way; there are no public buses which go from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2, only from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1.

Terminal 3 is served by the Citylink bus operated by the Megaworld Corporation, which connects Resorts World Manila (across from Terminal 3) to Eastwood City in Quezon City via Fort Bonifacio using Circumferential Road 5 (C-5) during peak hours. Buses depart from Eastwood City every thirty minutes between 06:00-09:00 and 17:30-19:30, and the fare is ₱29. A minibus service (₱20) also connects Terminal 3 to MRT-3 Taft Avenue station.

Terminal 4

Terminal 4 is the only terminal not directly served by buses. To get to Terminal 4, take any bus to Terminals 1 or 2, alight at the intersection of NAIA Road and Domestic Road (buses will stop at a footbridge just after the intersection), cross the footbridge to the other side of the intersection, and transfer to a jeepney.

By jeepney

Three jeepney routes serve the airport complex. While slower, less comfortable and not air-conditioned, jeepneys are a cheaper alternative to buses, and likewise run 24 hours a day. Fares are ₱8.00 for the first 4 km (₱7 for students), with an additional ₱1 for every kilometer thereafter. Students are eligible for a 20% discount on jeepney fares, the same discount as for bus fares.

Jeepneys from Baclaran toward the airport stop first at Terminal 4 before stopping at Terminals 1 and 2. At Terminals 1 and 2, jeepneys stop at the designated bus stop, while at Terminal 4, the jeepneys stop in front of the terminal, either across from (outbound) or beside (inbound) the terminal. Similar to buses, jeepneys are only one-way between Terminals 1 and 2, stopping at Terminal 2 first before stopping at Terminal 1.

The Terminal 3 jeepney stop is outside the airport beside the Circulo del Mundo Rotonda, although it is possible to get off at Resorts World Manila (on the other side of the road) and cross Andrews Avenue to Terminal 3.

Because of the constricted space of jeepneys, it's not recommended to use this method of public transportation with bulky luggage.

By car

Two ways of getting to the airport: on foot from Nichols railway station, and by car using the Metro Manila Skyway and NAIA Expressway.

A number of roads serve NAIA, all of which are named after the airport or prominent aviators. These include NAIA Road (commonly called MIA Road, which is the old name) and Ninoy Aquino Avenue for Terminals 1 and 2, Andrews Avenue for Terminal 3, and Domestic Road for Terminal 4. Terminal 3 is also served by the first phase of the future NAIA Expressway, which will eventually serve Terminals 1 and 2 as well.

Depending on the point of origin, there are a number of ways to reach the airport, although major routes include the following:

Parking

All four terminals have parking lots.

Regular parking is ₱50 for the first 2 hours, while overnight parking is ₱300/day. Cars left at the airport overnight have to be registered with security personnel upon entry. For more information, the Manila International Airport Authority also operates a parking lot hotline at +63 2 877-1109, extension 4315.

By taxi

For many travelers, taxis are the easiest and most convenient way of reaching the airport.

A regular white city taxi to the airport costs between ₱100-250 to most destinations within the city, depending on the distance. Officially, city taxis are only allowed only to drop off passengers at the departures level of each terminal (or at a special drop-off only taxi rank in front of Terminal 4) and are barred from picking up new fares. However, those arriving passengers who are on a penny pinching, budget, may want to go up the elevator to the departure level from arrivals and "hijack" one of those white painted taxis (standard color for all city taxis), that have just dropped off their departing passengers and are heading out of the airport. Fortunately, they don't pass on any airport fees to passengers they may pick up and that's the advantage. However, since the yellow ones pay for the exclusive right to pick up passengers, security guards are under orders to shoo away non-yellow (and non-registered) taxis picking up passengers in the departure area. (Yellow cabs, although registered, tend to have faster calibrated meters. So it may end up that a white cab can get you to your destination for less than half the fare it would cost you to use a yellow cab).

Yellow airport taxis also bring passengers to and from the airport. These taxis charge a flagdown rate of ₱70, plus an additional ₱4.50 for every 250 m. When leaving the airport, this is the only type of taxi available at the arrival level. Each departing taxi is registered by a dispatcher.

Special coupon taxis are special taxis with fixed rates according to the destination. Coupon taxis serve various hotels in Metro Manila, most points within the city, and even towns and cities throughout Luzon. Some coupon taxi operators use minivans, which may be useful for large groups. There are coupon taxi reservation desks at each terminal, and the Manila International Airport Authority maintains a list of rates for coupon taxis on its website.

On foot

While not a practical way of reaching the airport, it is possible to get to the airport on foot. This is particularly true for walking from the Nichols railway station in Taguig, which is 2 km away from Terminal 3. PNR commuter trains run every thirty minutes during peak hours, and every hour at all other times, from 05:30-19:30. From Nichols station, head north on the East Service Road until the intersection with Sales Road at the end, then turn left. Walk straight until the intersection with Andrews Avenue at the end. To cross to Terminal 3, there is a crosswalk close to the Circulo del Mundo Rotonda. Be careful when crossing the road, as there are no pedestrian crossing lights and cars travel along Andrews Avenue at high speed. It is also possible to board a Nichols Ikot (Nichols Loop) jeepney towards Terminal 3 at the opposite side of the Nichols Interchange exit, beside the Villamor Golf Course.

While technically possible to walk via Taft Avenue Extension, Quirino Avenue and then Airport Road, it is not recommended to walk from LRT-1 Baclaran station to Terminal 4 despite the distance (only 1.5 km). Use a jeepney instead.

Get around

NAIA is famously known for being difficult to transit through, especially if the connecting flight leaves from a different terminal. However, free 24-hour airport shuttle buses transport passengers between terminals. The buses run every fifteen minutes, although adherence to the schedule tends to be spotty. Shuttle buses depart from the arrival area of all terminals, so make sure to have a visa (if required to enter or transit the Philippines) if connecting to a flight departing from another terminal. If in a rush, take a taxi. Allocate at least three hours when transiting between terminals (especially if going to Terminal 3) in case of traffic congestion around airport roads.

Passengers connecting between Philippine Airlines and PAL Express flights may avail of a free airside shuttle service between Terminals 2 and 3. There is also a free airside shuttle service between Terminals 3 and 4 for passengers connecting between Cebu Pacific and Tigerair Philippines flights.

It is also possible to walk from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 (and vice-versa) via the International Cargo Terminal, using the same road used by public buses and jeepneys. Walking between the two terminals takes fifteen minutes, with a direct view of the apron around Gates 1 and 2 at Terminal 1.

Wait

Terminal 3, the newest of the NAIA terminals.

Unlike many of its Asian counterparts, NAIA has relatively few amenities or things to see. However, with the recent renovations at Terminal 1 and the opening of Terminal 3, this is starting to change.

There are two memorials in honor of Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Junior, the opposition politician for whom the airport is named:

There is a viewing gallery at the departures level of Terminal 3, which overlooks the baggage claim area. Entrance is free.

For children, Terminals 1 and 4 have free NAIA Kiddie Traveler's Lounges at the pre-departure areas, complete with a play area, toys and games, a diaper (nappy) changing room and infant feeding station, and cartoons showing on TV. The lounge is open daily 07:00-22:00 at Terminal 1 and 02:00-20:00 at Terminal 4. Children up to the age of 14 may use the lounge at Terminal 1, while children up to the age of 7 may use the lounge at Terminal 4.

In the pre-departure areas, all four terminals have televisions installed which broadcast news in Terminals 1-3 and local television in Terminal 4.

Lounges

There are a number of VIP lounges at the airport for the use of business and first class passengers, as well as holders of certain credit cards. Compared to lounges at other Asian airports though, NAIA lounges are sub-par. Most of these lounges are in Terminal 1. Japan Airlines, Korean Air, and Thai Airways International maintain their own lounges at Terminal 1, while Philippine Airlines maintains two Mabuhay Lounges at Terminal 2.

Passengers on international flights departing from Terminal 3 may use the Pacific Club Executive Lounge, a paid lounge that also admits business class passengers and elite members flying on Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines and KLM for free. Paid entrance is USD 25 (cash/CC), no time limit. Skyview lounge also allows pay-in guests but only accepts CC, no cash.

Business class passengers and Star Alliance Gold members flying on Singapore Airlines can use the new Silver Kris lounge at T3, while ANA passengers may avail of free food at the Sweet Ideas Café.

Eat and Drink

Dining options at NAIA are not as plentiful as in other airports, but there are options at all four terminals. Terminal 3 in particular is notable for having a foodcourt above the check-in area on the fourth floor which is also open to the public. Some of the more notable dining options at the airport include:

A major drawback to eating in NAIA is that none of the restaurants in the airport is certified Halal (nor kosher), and dining facilities for Muslim travelers in general are rather limited.

Buy

Terminals 1, 2 and 3 have outlets of Duty Free Philippines (DFP), the Philippines' state-owned duty free retailer. DFP outlets are found at both the pre-departure and arrival levels of each terminal, and Terminal 1 has a DFP outlet in the Greeters' Area.

Aside from DFP outlets, there are also other retailers in the airport, but some of the more notable ones include the following:

While most stores at the airport (except at the domestic wings of Terminals 2 and 3, and at Terminal 4) accept both pesos and US dollars, many stores do not accept credit cards. There are ATMs in Terminals 1, 2 and 3, but all are located prior to entering the pre-departure area.

Connect

Internet

All four terminals have free, unlimited Wi-Fi access on the GlobeFreeWiFi@NAIA network, provided by Globe Telecom, although coverage can be spotty at times. There are standalone computer terminals at Terminals 1 and 2 with access to the Internet, as well as laptop desks at Terminal 2 beside the computer terminals.

Mail

Two of the NAIA terminals have post offices. At Terminal 1, the post office is located on the west wing of the arrivals lobby, while at Terminal 2, the post office is located beside the Pass Control Office in the arrivals level of the South Wing. Both post offices are open on weekdays from 08:00-17:00. Mailboxes are located at the West Transit Lounge (after immigration) at Terminal 1, and at the post office in Terminal 2. Mail is picked up at 10:30 daily on weekdays.

Stamps are available for purchase at the following stores:

These stores are also authorized to bring mail to the post office for delivery. During weekends, these stores will hold mail until the post office reopens on Monday. At Terminal 1, this service is provided by the Christian Ventures bookstore at the East Satellite (gates 2-7).

Cope

All departing passengers need to be aware that, especially at busy periods, there are long queues just to enter each terminal - so allow an extra hour or two just for this procedure. With the notable exception of Terminal 3, only departing passengers with proof of a departing flight are allowed entry, so you will need to make your goodbyes outside the terminal building in the heat, dust and general kerfuffle.

Worship

NAIA has a number of worship facilities. All four terminals have Christian chapels, while Terminals 1 and 3 also have Muslim prayer rooms. Washrooms are fitted with foot basins and Qiblah directions are mentioned in the prayer rooms. More notably, there are two Roman Catholic churches in the immediate vicinity of the airport which are open to the public:

Baggage storage

Terminals 2 and 3 have left luggage facilities. At Terminal 2, this service is provided by Philippine Airlines (₱150/piece), while at Terminal 3, this service is provided by Luggage&More (₱150-200/piece for three hours, ₱300-350/piece per day).

While not a left luggage facility as such, bags may also be left at the Interline Baggage Section of Terminal 1, located to the side of the baggage claim area (₱150-200/piece).

Sleep

Terminal 1 is the only terminal fitted with day rooms (USD20) for the use of passengers with long connections, located at the arrivals level beside Gate 16. Each room's got a bed and a small table, although bathrooms are shared. Go to the Transfer Desk to reserve and pay for a day room.

Aside from the day rooms, there are also a number of hotels around the airport complex:

All five hotels around the airport perimeter have free shuttle service to bring guests to and from all four NAIA terminals. There are also other hotels in Pasay and Parañaque that are further away from the airport complex, but are still close, mostly in the area around SM Mall of Asia and Entertainment City Manila, the intersection of EDSA and Taft Avenue, and along Roxas Boulevard.

Nearby

An F-5 fighter aircraft on display at the Philippine Air Force Aerospace Museum

Beside Terminal 3 is Villamor Airbase, the headquarters of the Philippine Air Force. While the base is generally off-limits to civilians (except dependants of Air Force personnel), two of its facilities are open to the public:

Across from Villamor Airbase and opposite Terminal 3 is Newport City, a mixed-use development built on land formerly belonging to the base. While a significant part of the development is residential, it is better known as the home of Resorts World Manila, the Philippines' first casino-resort. Aside from a casino, Resorts World Manila also has a mall, a cinema, a performing arts theater and a popular nightclub.

In addition to Villamor Airbase and Newport City, a number of other areas are also close to the airport. These include Bay City in Pasay (home of the SM Mall of Asia) and Entertainment City Manila in Parañaque, built on land reclaimed from Manila Bay. Makati is also a reasonable distance from the airport, as are Taguig and the southern half of Manila, including Intramuros.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, January 13, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.