Saturday, August 1, 2009

NAIA Terminal 3 Manila

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 - This photo only courtesy of wipedia's eternal oraeon.
NAIA check-in counters. This photo only courtesy of wikipedia's Sky Harbor.
Terminal 3 heralds the advent of convenient check-ins and arrivals in Manila. The terminal is spacious and eye-friendly and has conveniently diffused the chaos that usually characterizes a Manila airport experience. Terminal 3 is the newest and biggest terminal in the NAIA complex, wherein construction started in 1997. It was one of the most controversial projects the Philippine government has become involved with. I actually like this terminal, as everything feels relaxed and convenient - even the domestic flights that depart and arrive here feel international. You just pray those pesky ceilings won't fall down on you! ;)

Here are some facts from Wikipedia:

The original proposal for the construction of a third terminal was proposed by Asia's Emerging Dragon Corporation (AEDP). AEDP eventually lost the bid to PairCargo and its partner Fraport AG of Germany, who went on to begin construction of the terminal under the administration of then Philippine President Joseph Estrada.

The ultra-modern US$640 million, 189,000 square meter facility was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) to have a capacity of 13 million passengers per year. Terminal 3 is built on a 63.5-hectare lot that sits on Villamor Air Base. The terminal building has a total floor area of 182,500 m², having a total length of 1.2 kilometers. A four-level shopping mall connects the terminal and parking buildings.

This terminal handles all flights operated by Cebu Pacific, those operated by Philippine Airlines' subsidiary PAL Express, as well as some Air Asia flights. Most major international airlines operate at the NAIA Terminal 1 and 2. When my German friend arrived for a visit, she said she was surprised to find the airport so small, but then this isn't the country's main airport, but the one budget terminal much like Malaysia's LCCT. But I'll take this terminal over terminals 2 or 4 anytime. Heed my advise. If you're arriving in Manila for the first time, fly with a carrier that uses this airport for a breezy and relaxing arrival.


Most of Terminal 3 is operational 24 hours which means you can wait for long hours here and not feel like you're in some African desert. ATMS (about a dozen or so) are found all over especially at the arrival hall although there are no ATMs at the predeparture halls. Foreign exchange counters are also mostly open 24 hours except the one at the domestic predeparture hall (2AM - 6PM). Fast food chains are also open 24 hours: McDonalds, Jollibee, Dimsum and Dumplings, Yellow Cab, Wendy's, Seattle's Best, Kenny Rogers Roasters, Raiku Japanese Restaurant, Chubby China. Kenko Spa is also open 24 hours. Cowan Asian Restaurant is open until 10PM; Shakey's til 10PM and Coffee Bean until 2AM. 7-11 and Mini-Stop are open 24 hours - they have meals, phone loads, siopao and drinks, etc. A toy store at the 4th level near McDonalds called "Don't Forget About the Kids" is open 24 hours as well. Havaiannas, also at the 4th level, is open until 10PM. Krispy Kreme, at the domestic predeparture, near gate 33, is open from 2AM to 6PM. A Mister Donut stall is at the food court of 4th level and is open 24 hours as well. Army Navy is open until 6PM. Victoria Secret is operational from 2AN to 8PM. National Bookstore is open from 6AM to 6:30PM. The Duty Free Shops scattered all over the 4th floor and the new ones at the Arrival Hall near the entrance to the Covered Parking are open 24 hours.

GOOD NEWS: Major International Carriers Move to T3
(July 2014 Update)

Starting July 2014 , NAIA Terminal 3 will be accepting major international carriers: Delta, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Emirates, Singapore and Cathay. ANA has also been using this terminal a while back. This makes the terminal fully operational, which used to only operate a mere 50% of its facility and services. They've in fact opened the once-empty right wing. These new airline companies will also be posting shuttle bus services for its passengers with connecting flights to other terminals (1,2,4) - for free! Travel between these terminals usually take 30 to 45 minutes. These will give tourists arriving with these carriers a better impression and a more relaxed arrival in Manila. Three other carriers are slated to move from Terminals 1 and 2 to Terminal 3 in the coming months. This was made possible after the settling of the long-running court cases related to the construction of NAIA Terminal 3.    

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Though T3 has lots of shops, there's only one Duty-Free Shop at the international arrival hall just before clearing immigration and customs. A few paces from here, you start queuing at the immigration to get stamped into the country. 

An international pre-departure area.
One of the fine-dining restaurants servicing the pre-departure area.


And just so you avoid delays, if you're taking a meal or snack at the Food Court, we feel we need this special mention. Avoid Mary Grace Cafe. The place is messy, the servers are inattentive and take forever to serve you and they forget orders.
Arrival from an international flight, right after immigration formalities. Down below is where you secure your checked baggage.

Baggage conveyors. Those yellow counters at the foreground are the custom check counters - if you have anything to declare.

Credit calls, coins can be used at these Terminal 3 phones. You can place calls anywhere in the world using Philippine coins or your international credit cards. These phones are placed at strategic areas of the terminal

If you have to be connected during your stay in the Philippines, you can avail of a mobile wifi at Roambuddy, located at the arrival hallway. You can rent a unit for PhP1,500 for a 3-day use. Charges apply for further use. 

Airport shuttles called "Airport Loop" at available just outside the arrival hallway. They will shuttle passengers among the 4 terminals 1-4. Free for ticketed passengers and PhP20 for non-ticket holders. They're said to leave every 15-20 minutes, and usually park near Bay 8 or thereabouts. I will NOT ENTERTAIN QUESTIONS about the bus service. Call NAIA for more info.

Public Commuter Buses can also be found just outside the arrival hall with published route posted below. Please DO NOT ask me more about this service as this is the only information I know about it.

Route of Public Commuter Bus

The view from the Arrival Hall as you exit the baggage claim area.

For foreign tourists, if you've arranged for a hotel pick-up, you'll see this "firing squad" line just after exiting the baggage claim area to your right. Look for your names written on boards.

NAIA 3's facade and arrival area- the huge numbered posts is a numbered Bay Waiting Area which tourists can use as reference when meeting people.

St. Peter's Chapel, the toffee-colored church right across NAIA 3, is also home of St. Therese Columbarium. It is hard to miss and is always a welcome sight.

Down below is a photoblog from my phone ages ago. 

Hate long waits at the airport, but this has become bearable at the newest NAIA terminal. You just wish they allotted enough budget to actually dab paint on those concrete structures outside. Without paint, they seem unfinished or ran out of budget! You would have thought that with a budget of $640 million, they would allot a fraction of that for paint. P.S. With paint, I am thinking neutral colors, not those rainbow-colored hues.

UPDATE: February 2011 Feature on NAIA Terminal 3

Covered Parking

NAIA Terminal 3 Takes in Some Color

For specific inquiries, here are some important telephone numbers and email addresses at T3:

Airport Trunkline+63.2.877-7888
Asst. Terminal
Lost & Found+63.2.877-7888
Bureau of Animal Industry+63.2.877-7888 loc.8238/
Bureau of Customs+63.2.877-7888 loc.8127/
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources+63.2.877-7888 loc.8238/
Bureau of Immigration+63.2.877-7888 loc.8128/
Bureau of Plant Industry+63.2.877-7888 loc.8238/
Bureau of Quarantine+63.2.877-7888 loc.8125/
DENR Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit+63.2.877-7888 loc.8238/
Philippine Overseas Employment Adminnistration+63.2.877-7888
Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority+63.2.877-7888 loc.8159
Customer Relations
Passenger & Customer Relations+63.2.877-7888 loc.
Terminal Administration+63.2.877-7888 loc.
Terminal Security & Safety+63.2.877-7888 loc.


monderk said...

I like the unpainted touch of NAIA-3 however those unnecessary colorful advertisements and signages look it awful! Proper lighting and landscaping will look it more airy...

eye in the sky said...

Agree. Those multi-colored ads render the place a kitschy veneer. I wish they'd regulate the kind of ads that get displayed inside. On the POV of the ads, I understand that the more colorful their products are, the more eye-catchy they are. On the whole, I like Terminal 3. It's a relaxed airport to arrive in or depart from.