I went on a week-long vacation in the home province of my father where I had the chance of experiencing first-hand the newly opened airport in Manila dubbed as NAIA Terminal 3 or “T3” for short. Marred by a lot of legal controversies and issues they have finally opened last July and with Cebu Pacific starting last August 1.
Fortunately, our flight was late August and that means that we’re getting T3 as airport. Aside from the large facility, non-passengers can get in the airport only up before to the check-in area. There’s some sort of small area for well-wishing prior departure of passengers. In the old domestic terminal, you have to check-in only in the counter where your destination is indicated (e.g. if you are going to Palawan, you can check-in only in the counter stated as Palawan or Puerto Princesa). In T3, as long as you are flying Cebu Pacific, you can check-in in any counter and there you go. We were Mindanao bound but we checked-in in the Puerto Princesa counter.
Terminal fee stays the same, 200 bucks though I would say that the 200 is better felt here than in the old domestic airport. After paying the terminal fee, we went off to our pre-departure area. It is a looong walk although there’s some sort of walkator in the area. The view from the area shows the departing/arriving passengers. One good thing to notice is the terminal is cold (well it should be as it is new) though the place is so dull. When we are about to board the plane, I am quite excited trying the tube (the “bridge” that connects the terminal to the plane) but was quite disappointed since you have to go down the tarmac and climb the stairs to the plane – quite primitive but it’s okay.
On our return flight to Manila, the way to go from the plane to the terminal is still the same though we exited on another door for the arrival area. Good thing there’s a comfort room (I suppose) on each exit gate so you can satisfy nature’s calling. It was a long walk from the gate from where we exited to the carousel getting our checked-in baggages. As I would say, the place resembles Changi Airport Terminal 2 when I went there last 2006. The form of the immigration counters are the same and even the escalator downwards going to the claiming of baggages. The lobby is large again upon exit and it is definitely bigger than Terminal 2.
Of course, things are better appreciated through pictures. You can view them here.
POSTSCRIPT: I just noticed in our airport of departure for Manila that starting 2 September 2008, Cebu Pacific’s free baggage allowance would be 15kgs down from 20kgs. Bad news for backpackers. 😦