NAIA, Photo by PH Morton
Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)
While on holiday in the Philippines, we visited quite a few places far and wide; from end to end of the country.
Several times, we found ourselves at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to catch our flight provided by either the flagship, Philippine Airline and sometimes the slightly cheaper, Cebu Pacific.
What I can say is that, it was shambolic and organised chaos each time.
We had a delay of upto a couple of hours for all our flights!
Both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific were very clear that the faults were in no way in their corner but from the NAIA itself. Apparently, there were just too many flights, much, much more than NAIA’s traffic control can comfortably cope with.
When we went to Palawan via Philippine Airlines, they had to announce in their tannoy for any volunteer willing to postpone their flight for a latter one as it seemed they were overbooked. never heard of such before!
Also some of the domestic airports charge an additonal fee, which is called airport or travel tax; we had to pay at a counter before boarding a plane.
Where does this tax raised go?
Certainly not in maintaining the airport such as improving the largely inaudible tannoy systems as well the often poor condition and inadequate numbers of toilets (comfort room) especially for women.
We guess the so called taxes raised would ultimately end up ‘lining the pockets’ of corrupt officials as seems to be the practice generally.
No wonder, NAIA is in the top 10 worst airport in the world, it just can’t handle and provide good service on time, especially on its national flights.
Additionally, not a long time a go, it came out that there were numerous incidents involving what infamously became known as laglag bala. This heinous activity involved criminals being allowed to take over some baggage checks duties, which put fears to every decent Filipino and foreign travellers to and from the Philippines.
These criminals would choose the vulnerable and some Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to victimise. The modus operandi was to plant bullets to their target’s luggage. They would then give their victim a choice of being taken to the police to answer for ‘supposed’ crime or pay the fine of up to P50,000 ($1065) and get on their plane on time.
Such was our frustrations with the airline/airports NAIA delays, we decided that it was better to use road coaches to reach destinations even if it meant 10-hour drive instead of a much shorter journey via air travels.
It is not only domestic flights that are affected. Our flight home via Doha was delayed nearly an hour due to NAIA’s inability to cope with air traffic. Thank goodness, there was a 3½ hours stopover in Doha, enough to swallow the delay from Manila.
We do have to acknowledge the friendliness of the staff and some customer service at the NAIA. The airline staff were very helpful, friendly and stoic in putting up with the moans and complaints of passengers due to the delays, etc.
Poor travel experience is such a shame as the Philippines would get more tourists to see its many wonders if not for the poor NAIA performance, which sadly shows no signs of improvement.
A complete revamp is much needed, no doubt about it. Perhaps it should start with going back to its old name – Manila International Airport (MIA). It had a better reputation compared to the jinxed Ninoy Aquino’s bloody history.
Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) – A Shamble