Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Davao International Airport and Its Laidback Transit

This one is for the books! Davao International Airport is officially called Francisco Bangoy International Airport! And no one seems to be aware of this except those who named it ! :)

This beautifully designed airport, with a Malay-inspired architecture is Mindanao’s busiest runway. Inaugurated in December of 2003, this well maintained airport is designed to handle 1.2 million passengers a year. It has one regular international service – Singapore. Flights from Hong Kong and another asia-pacific country have been discontinued early this year.

This medium-sized airport is 15 minutes away from the city center, and is quite relaxed and deceptively laidback - but make no mistake, security check is tight. There is a manual check (seasonal) just before entering the building. The two security checks inside are quite meticulous. The one at the pre-departure check-in requires taking your belts and shoes off. (As of April 2015, you aren't required to remove your shoes anymore.)

Porters are available outside, charging PhP10 per baggage (tip your porter). You don't have to pay your porterage fee at the desk as long as you hand your payment to the porters - plus their tip. The counters at the right wing of the building are used for check-in. After which, take the escalator to the 2nd floor. There are shopping stalls and a massage area. Further ahead is the counter where you pay your terminal fee of PhP200. From there, there’s another hallway of souvenir shops – durian and mangosteen candies, shirts, handicrafts. 


Terminal fee counter at the 2nd floor has a sign that "apologizes", saying they don't have change for bills for now. Guess what? That sign has been there forever. They're just too lazy to provide change which, as far as I know, is part of the consumer's bill of rights, according to the Department of Trade and Industry. Providing change for reasonable bill is a service that a terminal counter receiving hard-earned money should provide! You're accepting money but you're too high and mighty to offer change? There's a resounding duh somewhere there. It's a third-world mentality to believe that it's okay not to provide change, but it just isn't right.

At the right wing, second floor, is a new MIASCOR Elite Lounge which offers a comfortable waiting lounge for travelers waiting for their flights. This is non-exclusive so it's available for every one. Just pay PhP380 - or you get in free if you own a Diners or a Security Bank credit card. The lounge can accommodate 24 people in a very cozy, albeit carpeted lounge with centralized music, cable TV and an inverter A/C. There's a nook for your coat and baggage. There are reading materials from newspapers to magazines. The best feature is, they offer food and drinks - all you can eat - cold or hot; and desserts too. They have sodas and juices. They even have San Mig beer or a hot chocolate if you prefer that. Upon registration, you're handed a wifi password. There are universal sockets if you require charging of phone, iPad or laptop. This is allegedly Manila International Airport's (MIA) first elite lounge, but plans are on the way for another one at the NAIA Terminal 3. 

Elsewhere at the airport, you can even buy telephone loads, or have your meal. Restaurants here are quite affordable – unlike pre-departure restaurants in most airports elsewhere. After this hall, there is another x-ray machine to check you, before the pre-departure area. All in all, getting yourself settled at the Davao International Airport is quite painless.

Check-in counters

Shopping stalls at the 2nd floor. At the left wing (at the opposite side of the building), there is the massage stall for those who need their quick massage.

After your check-in, head to the 2nd floor through this escalator.

This is the international check-in area for flights to Singapore and Manado Indonesia.

Immigration formalities happen at these counters.

This is the 2nd security check (after the manual check outside the building). Entrance is to your right.

Jamelah Money Changer is found at the 2nd floor of the Departure Hall accessible after check in.

Musallah, Prayer Room, can be found at the 2nd floor. In the interest of equal opportunities, this is a welcome space. BUT where is the Catholic chapel? Davao, is after all, inhabited by majority of Catholics, not Muslims. It is a common mistake to believe that Davao (or the whole Mindanao for that matter) is mostly Muslim populated.

VIP Lounge at the pre-departure area.


The airport was funded by the Asian Development Bank and the European Investment Bank to the tune of $128 million dollars.

It also has seasonal trips to Macau as well as Manado. Manado is the capital of the North Sulawesi province of Indonesia. This city is located at the Bay of Manado, and is surrounded by a mountainous area. The city has about 417,548 inhabitants, with ecotourism as its biggest attraction. It is the sister city of Davao and Zamboanga. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manado)

It also serves trips to and from Singapore via Silk Air.

The exact location: Barangay Sasa, Buhangin, Davao City.

Domestic terminal fee is PhP200 ($4.30). International terminal fee is PhP500 ($10.70).
There is a taxi bay outside the building. Of course, there are taxi touts. Fortunately, taxi drivers in Davao are relatively more honest than their counterpart elsewhere. Still, there are bad seeds wherever you go – so take the necessary precautions. Make sure meters are flagged down – and you’re very specific as to your destination. Nope, you don’t have to agree on a price. Meters are used, unless you’re going somewhere really far. The good mayor has actually disciplined even the drivers of Davao.

This is the hallway leading to the terminal fee counter (PhP200/person), just after the escalator ride to the 2nd floor.

Pre-departure area

International Predeparture Lounge (Gate 3) is mostly unoccupied.

Domestic Predeparture Area near Gates 7,8 and 9.

Breastfeeding Station and Toddler's Corner

At the Toddler's Corner is this play room if you need to de-stress your restless tots.


2015 - Some of the shops have changed. there's now an "Islands Souvenir". Shirts cost PhP350-450.

Here's a post on some of the shops at the pre-departure area of this airport - http://eye-in-the-blue-sky.blogspot.com/2011/01/shops-at-davao-international-airport.html

To the the wandering pack, safe journeys.

This is the Eye in the Sky.

The single conveyor for your baggage.

Arrival Hall is also the baggage claim area which is mostly spare.

You come out of the Arrival Hall here, cross the narrow lane to the waiting bay where taxis and well wishers wait.

From your exit, there's a taxi bay queuing near the waiting shed. Beside it is a row of restaurants and food shops, probably owned by one person.
Taxi Bay in front of the arrival area.

This is the enclosed restaurant with AC. You can order a limited number of entries here. Most items on the menu has "NA" written on them.

If you're on a protracted wait for flight announcements, this restaurant is the perfect place to kill time because of the cool atmosphere. No wifi, but there's a loud speaker that blares updates of flights and arrivals.

Chicken sandwich at PhP120.

You can also wait here at one of the waiting sheds with a very uncomfortable linear bar subbing as a chair.

From a distance, this durian sculpture with people inside the pods seem amazing. Take a closer look and you realize the bevy of joyless characters inside this Durian fruit.

Durian sculpture


yellowbutterfly said...

hi, i want to ask you about Immigration officer in davao airport. What documents they will ask, if they are so strict like immigration officer in MManila airport, because i had a plan to have a direct flight from davao to singapore to delhi.thank you so much for sharing your experience with me about the immigration officer in davao airport.

thank you!!! :)

eye in the sky said...

I haven't flown out of the country from Davao, but I am aware that Immigration officers in Subic, Cebu and Davao are a lot more lenient and laidback. The strictest immigration officers are those from Terminal 1 in NAIA. If your papers are in order and you have a legitimate reason for travel - holiday or otherwise, you will be fine. They will look at your departure form and check your profession. You will get asked about your employment. Sometimes even how much you earn (your salary), how long you will be away and the reason for your travel. Do you travel alone? Sometimes they also ask how much your budget is for your holiday - tell them how much and show them if you have credit cards. Just answer them straight and fast and you will be alright. :)