Beginner’s Guide: Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), 2021

First time travelers? Don’t fret! I have collaborated with an Airport Ground Crew and a former classmate Prince Mercader, to answer your airport COVID protocols-related questions, specifically Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), what to do if you ever missed your flight, how to make luggage check in process quicker and probably the most intriguing question, how to get a free seat upgrade to business class! (Is there really a hack?)

Philippine Airport Protocols during COVID 19 pandemic

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Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) COVID 19 Protocols

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What are the procedures I need to follow upon my arrival and departure at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)? 

For Arriving OFWs

After disembarking the plane, the Philippine Coast Guard will make a short briefing regarding your food transportation and accommodation arrangement as you will undergo a quarantine stay before returning home. 

After that, proceed to immigration, claim your luggage and head towards OWWA counter (if you are a land-based OFW) or MARINA counter (for sea-based OFWs) before exiting the airport.

For Arriving Non- OFWs

Depending on which terminal you land, non-OFWs need to listen to a short briefing by the  Philippine Coast Guard or an Airline Ground Staff. 

After the briefing you will have to proceed to Department of Tourism counter as they will verify the hotel which you will be staying for your quarantine period. 

Then proceed to immigration, claim your luggage before exiting the terminal then hire a taxi to your hotel.

For Departing OFWs & Non-OFWs

Be sure to download TRAZE app on your phone, as this is required by the Philippine Government for contact tracing purposes before entering the airport. 

Inside the terminal, proceed to the check-in counter to the immigration and then on to your boarding gate.

Can I take my Covid test at the airport? What shall I do if my Covid test validity lapses by the time I reach NAIA?

There is no COVID test facility at the airport. I will suggest that check the website of the airline if they’re offering a COVID test at a specific location. 

If your COVID test result exceeds the valid hours imposed by the airline, they will refuse you for check-in. 


Airport basics

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What should and shouldn’t I bring at the airport

Bring a ballpen, extra face mask, alcohol but no more than 100ml so that you can bring it on board, and cash in case you’re hungry or there is an unexpected situation that you need to pay like overweight baggage. 

Don’t bring any antique item like bullet as it will be confiscated by the airport security.

What time should I be at the airport so I won’t be late for my flight?

It would be better to be at airport 4 hours before the flight.


Let’s talk baggage

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What can I do to make my luggage check in process faster and easier?

Make sure to have your luggage’s weight is checked at home before going to the airport so that you don’t have to take some of your stuff out at the check-in counter because in case it is overweight.

Do not put any gadgets inside your check-in luggage as the check-in counter staff will ask you to remove it from your luggage due to safety purposes as well as any travel document as you might need to present it at the check-in counter and immigration.

Once I had an over-baggage of about 3kg and the check-in counter personnel asked me to take some of my stuff out so we could proceed. I pleaded as hard as I could but unless I pay for the over-baggage fee, I will not be accommodated. I had no choice but to open my perfectly arranged luggage and take some stuff out. I moved to a less busy side of the airport and opened my luggage. I couldn’t decide which items to remove or to keep at that moment. I was deeply embarrassed. Luckily, my family was on the waiting area standing by should I encounter any issues during check-in. I gave them my excess baggage before falling back in line to the check-in counter. 

If there is only one thing that you’ll remember on this blog, it got to be this tip

Eartha, Millennial OFW

Which documents should I bring so I won’t encounter any hassle at the airport and during luggage check in process?

Your passport, visa and plane ticket are the most basic documents that should always be at hand. You can put these inside an envelope so that it is easily retrievable whenever the security, ground staff or immigration officer asks for them.

What shall I do if I happen to have an overweight baggage or want to check in an extra piece?

If your baggage is overweight, the ground staff will always ask you to take some things out your baggage until it weighs under the free baggage allowance mark. You can put your excess things inside your hand carry. Be sure that your hand carry will not exceed seven (7) kilos or else you will be forced to leave your things behind or you can decide pay for the excess baggage fee to prevent this hassle.

If you want to check in an extra piece, ensure that it is still covered by your free baggage allowance. If not, the ground staff will charge you for an excess baggage fee to be able to accept your extra piece. Be sure to bring money to pay for the excess fee. 

Cash and Card (credit & debit) are accepted modes of payment. Some are airlines are accepting WeChat pay.

What shall I do if my luggage got lost during the flight?

At the destination, when your baggage is not at the carousel, you may approach the airline’s baggage department or desk counter to report your lost baggage. Just present your passport, boarding pass and baggage tag so that the ground staff may trace your baggage.

What causes luggage mishandling and how can I (passenger) avoid it? 

One of the reasons why this happens is when you’re on a connecting flight. Usually, lost luggages tent to happen when the airline is unable to transfer the luggages on time in to the next flight. This may be caused by short connection times where the airline avoids delays for departure.

What shall I do if my luggage got lost at the airport? 

If your baggage got lost (it has been out of your possession), remember to remain calm and recall when was the last time you had it with you even before reporting the incident to an airport security. Just so when they ask you the question, you’ll know what to answer. 


What about my flight? 

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What shall I do if I’m running late for my flight or if I miss my flight?

Always remember to avoid panicking. This is to enable you to think properly and be aware of your valuables like passport, visa, cellphone, money etc. 

Next is to always check your boarding gate. Look for signages leading to your boarding gate if you don’t happen to see any ground staff that is handling your flight. Normally if you’re the only one or one of the few passengers that is yet to board the plane, there will be ground staff who will call your attention either by your flight number, your destination or your name. Just call their attention by raising your hand so that you can still catch your flight.

On the other hand, if you missed your flight always remember to not panic. Return back to immigration to offload your name at their computer system then proceed to the check-in counter and ask for the supervisor in-charge of your flight to retrieve your check-in baggage. Head to the ticket office for rebooking and for other inquiries regarding your missed flight ticket.

What shall I do if I can’t access my ticket and I don’t have a hard copy with me? 

Usually, the check-in agent doesn’t need to see your ticket itinerary (whether soft or hard copy) unless they need to verify specific matters. 

As long as the ticket you purchased (whether through online, ticket office or travel agency) is confirmed, your name is already in the computer system of the check-in counter. You may ask the check-in agent to print your ticket itinerary. 

If, however, at the entrance gate of the terminal, the airport security guard doesn’t allow you to enter without presenting a ticket, you may proceed to the ticket office to have your ticket printed out. 

What shall I do if my flight got cancelled or delayed? 

If you’re already at the boarding gate and the flight got cancelled, you will hear an announcement from the ground staff. Approach the ground staff to rebook you to the next available flight. Also, ask if there’s a hotel accommodation provided by the airline.

How can I get a free seat upgrade? 

Free seat upgrade is usually offered to a passenger whose ticket is a high class status economy ticket or to a frequent traveler members. This is only offered when there is an overbooking situation in the economy class.


What else can I do at the airport?

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What can we do at NAIA to pass time while waiting for our flight?

There are food stalls where you can buy food if you’re hungry. Airport WiFi is also available. 

Be sure to double check your boarding gate and boarding time as this information may change from time to time.

How can I access airport lounges? Which services are available for me at airport lounges? 

Lounges at the airport are mostly exclusive for business class or frequent traveler member. Passengers with budget ticket or economy ticket may avail the airport’s pay lounge, if the terminal has one.

Which kind of services are available for me at the airport?

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) offers amenities such as foreign exchange, ATM, bank, wrapping baggage counter, storage baggage room, food stalls, restaurants, shops, ticketing office, lost & found department.    

Who shall I seek assistance from if I encounter any challenges at the airport? 

If there are airport concerns such as directions, or anything related to using an airport facility, you may always approach airport security guards and MIAA (Manila International Airport Authority) personnel. 

If it is crime related concerns, you may approach airport police or PNP personnel.

If it is an airline concern, you may always approach any airline personnel. 

How should I act inside the airport?

Just be yourself. Be mindful to your things such as your passport, visas, wallet, cellphone, baggage and hand carry. 

When having an inquiry, approach any airport or airline personnel and ask politely even though you’re already inconvenienced by a situation. This way we will be able to assist you better.


Meet Prince!

Prince started working at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) right after graduating from college. He worked as a Customer Service Agent for two (2) years where he meets and assists passengers at the Airport. Currently, he functions as an interpreter for a premier airline in the Philippines. 

“Many of my colleagues asked me why didn’t I apply for a cabin crew position and remain as a ground staff. I told them that being a ground staff gets you to experience many airport scenarios and know each passenger’s personalities. There are also times where you get to do different things that are out of your job description which allows you to gain more ideas.

Back in February 2020, when the Philippine government started closing the borders for passengers coming from China, I had to explain to all passengers (where they landed), that they have to return to China ASAP. It’s a simple instruction, but on the actual, it was an unexpected experience.”

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