“I'd rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.”
― Lucille Ball

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

NAIA one of the worst airports

A few weeks ago I went again to Manila to pick-up my wife from the NAIA (Ninoy Acquino International Airport) airport, terminal 1.

Her flight from Dubai was expected to arrive @ 4.20 pm. That would mean that we would have to travel home when it was becoming dark and if I took our car I had to drive in complete dark on the provincial roads, what I don't prefer.

It's not pleasant driving in the dark and even dangerous as some cars and tricycles have no lights at all, so an accident is easily made and as a foreigner that is the worst you can befall, especially at night. So I decided to go by bus to Manila, Pasay bus terminal and then a taxi to the airport. I arrived @ 3.00 pm, so enough time to prepare for the best spot to pickup her.

Courtesy  "The Guide to Sleeping in Airports"
While doing so - I give you the details later - I remembered an article I read on the Internet, saying that NAIA is the worst airport for "airport sleepers".

On the right is the logo they used in the article. And I agree the facilities are bad, if you have to stay long between 2 flights, it is not something I would appreciate.

There is another report from CNN, where the top 10 of most hated airports is published. NAIA's score is number 5. 

This is the opening statement:
Beleaguered by ground crew strikes, unkempt conditions, soup kitchen-style lines that feed into more lines and an overall sense of futility, NAIA brings the term “Stuck in the 1970s” to a new level.

And I agree again, NAIA is so out-dated and it seems that there has not been any maintenance for many years. There is no other airport in South-East Asia that can compete with NAIA in this sense.

I will add another qualification: NAIA is the worst organised airport I have ever experienced and I  I visited them all the last couple of years, except in Japan and Korea. So what is the problem? I will tell you.

The airport terminal 1 has three levels. Remember that all international flight are going via terminal 1, however that may change of course the coming years. Ground level is meant for waiting family to pick-up relatives from Arrival. There is a parking place where the waiting family can park their car and - as is usually here - many do eat in the car the food that they brought from home.

Level 1 Arrivals hall exit, taxi area
On level 1 is the arrivals hall. People just arrived and having passed immigration and customs and having picked up their luggage, have to exit the hall, cross the road which is meant solely for taxi's and rented cars and then descend with the pushcart and making a left or right turn, depending on the first letter of their family name.

So if you are waiting on the ground floor, you don't know if they will come from the right or the left. You get a stiff neck, as if you are watching a tennis match.

On level 2 is the departure hall. The procedure here is that cars and taxi's stop for one minute maximum, unloading passengers and luggage and off they go again. Most airports have facilities for people bringing their families or friends, where you can sit for a while have a snack and drink together and kissing goodbye. Not in NAIA.

So as I came by taxi, I was delivered at level 2 for departure, as this is the only place where common taxi's are allowed to come. From there I wanted to go to the arrivals level 1, because we would take an airport taxi (yellow cab) to the bus terminal. It's the only place where you can get a taxi if you have a lot of luggage. But I was not allowed to enter the area where the taxi's are waiting for the arrival passengers. The guard sent me down to ground level, where they do not have taxi's.

There was no other solution, I had to go down and waiting there for my wife. If the people arrive there they have to cross a road again and then, if there is nobody waiting for you or you didn't see each other, you are lost in the crowd. It is really a crazy organisation.

When she finally came down (from the right), I passed the guard ran to her and said that we had to go upstairs again with her luggage against the stream of people coming down. One official asked us what we were doing and let us go, although it was not allowed, because I didn't bring my passport. So finally we were on level 1, Arrivals hall again and we could take the yellow cab, direction bus terminal.

Next time I take my car again!!


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