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Guide to Manila Airports: Terminals, Airlines, Getting Around, Travel Tips

Guide to Manila Airports: Terminals, Airlines, Getting Around, Travel Tips

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Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines

When traveling to the Philippines, you will most likely arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Also widely known as NAIA (pronounced na-ee-ya), this airport caters to the country's capital region Metro Manila and its surrounding areas.

It’s located in the southern part of Metro Manila, specifically in Pasay and Paranaque, and may also serve as a hub for travelers looking to go to other places in the Philippines.

NAIA is where most international passengers arrive and where all major airlines have their base of operations. It currently has four terminals, each of which serves specific airlines, which is often the root of confusion for most as well as the many different modes of transportation available.

We made this handy guide on everything you need to know about Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Read on for a quick crash course on NAIA to help you plan your trip:

NAIA Airport Terminals

NAIA has four terminals and they are simply named after their number. Note that they aren’t connected to each other, so best to double-check which terminal you should go to for your flight by checking your ticket. 

Terminal 1

Terminal 1 of NAIA

NAIA Terminal 1 is where a majority of international flights are serviced. It’s the oldest terminal and accommodates an average of six million passengers a year. Airlines in this terminal are: 

Air China, Air Niugini, Asiana Airlines, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Gulf Air, Japan Airlines, Jeju Air, Jetstar Airways, Jetstar Asia Airways, Korean Air, Kuwait Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Oman Air, Royal Brunei Airlines, Saudia, Scoot, Thai Airways, XiamenAir, and select international Philippine Airlines flights, namely: flights to the Middle East, New York City, Toronto and Vancouver, and arrivals from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Terminal 2

NAIA Terminal 2

NAIA Terminal 2 is exclusively used by Philippine Airlines, also known as PAL, and as the country’s national flag carrier.

This terminal caters to the rest of PAL’s international flights not mentioned above and a select number of domestic flights, namely: flights going to Bacolod, Davao, Iloilo, Laoag and Tagbilaran.

The terminal is also known as the Centennial Terminal to commemorate 100 years of Philippine Independence.

Terminal 3

NAIA Terminal 3Photo by Manila International Airport Authority

NAIA Terminal 3 is the newest and largest terminal and serves as a hub for international flights as well. It has the capacity to handle 13 million passengers a year and has a footbridge that connects to Newport City, making luxury hotels and entertainment complexes more accessible.

Since it was built to help lessen the congestion in Terminal 1, plenty of international airlines recently made the switch between terminals so keep an eye out for any changes. Currently, the airlines that operate here are:

Cebu Pacific, the rest of Philippine Airlines’ domestic flights not mentioned above, international AirAsia flights, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, KLM, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and United Airlines.

Terminal 4

NAIA Terminal 4Photo by Xavier Summer

NAIA Terminal 4 mainly caters to domestic flights. It’s the oldest standing structure at NAIA and is known as the Old Domestic Terminal. Catering to both domestic and regional services, Terminal 4 services the following non-international airlines:

Domestic AirAsia flights, AirSWIFT, Cebgo, SkyJet, and Sky Pasada.

Getting Around Manila Airport Terminals

Passengers will be happy to know that NAIA has a wide range of transportation available. That being said, they all wildly vary in terms of safety and convenience which is why we highly recommend using the P2P buses, the UBE Express, car, or through private transfer as the safest options. 

NAIA to/from Clark Airport

By point-to-point bus

Inside a P2P BusPhoto by Genesis Transfer Service Inc. 

The Metro Manila P2P bus is a scheduled bus service that takes passengers through fixed routes. The most prominent route is the direct connection between NAIA and Clark International Airport in Angeles, Pampanga. This is handy for transit passengers connecting flights between the two airports. 

You will find the NAIA-Clark P2P bus terminal at the arrival area of Terminal 3. For trips from NAIA to Clark, it only stops at Robinsons Galleria Mall at Ortigas Center before heading directly to Clark International Airport but trips from Clark to NAIA will stop at Terminal 1 and 2 before arriving at Terminal 3.

Average travel time ranges between three to four hours, and buses arrive every one to two hours from 2:00 AM to 10:30 AM for the NAIA-Clark route, while the Clark-NAIA route runs from 1:30 AM to 11:00 PM.

For a minimal additional fee, you can ride the JoyBus which offers additional onboard luxuries like larger seats, in-seat entertainment, and a restroom among other amenities. The JoyBus operates at 9AM, 2PM and 4PM between NAIA and Clark, and at 10:30AM, 12:30PM and 2:30PM between Clark and NAIA.

NAIA to/from Metro Manila

By Bus

There are three types of buses that will take you to the places around Metro Manila from NAIA and vice-versa: UBE Express express buses, regular city buses, and a minibus service.

By UBE Express

UBE Express in NAIAPhoto by UBE Express

Similar in function to the P2P buses, the Ultimate Bus Experience, or UBE Express, is a shuttle service that provides transport from NAIA’s terminals to major locations within Metro Manila. It currently has the following routes:

1. Entertainment City Route

This route goes between Entertainment City and Mall of Asia with stops across all major hotels and casinos.

2. Grand Prix Route

This route goes to major transport hubs near the airport. Kabayan Hotel is a few steps away from MRT-3 Taft Avenue and the Grand Prix Hotel is located near the Victory Liner Pasay Bus Terminal. MRT-3 Taft Avenue will take you north of Metro Manila while Victory Liner has a wide range of routes going to places within and beyond Metro Manila.

3. Robinsons Route

This route travels through nearby hotels and attractions in Pasay and Manila with a few stops at hotels near the Philippine Cultural Center, Rizal Park, and Intramuros, the historic Manila Hotel, and ending in Robinson’s Place Manila, the largest of a famous chain of malls in the country. 

4. Makati Route

This route travels directly to Parksquare Ayala Center in Makati, the country’s financial center.

5. Ortigas Route

This route is headed to Robinsons Galleria located in the central business district Ortigas.

6. Araneta Center Route

This route goes to Araneta Center in Cubao, known as an entertainment hub in the northern part of the region as well as many bus terminals going to places within and beyond Metro Manila. 

7. Alabang Route

This route travels to Alabang Town Center and Ayala Malls South Park, both malls found in Alabang, a southern commercial district nearing the border of the National Capital Region.

8. Laguna Route

This route travels to major stops in Sta. Rosa, Laguna located just outside Metro Manila; namely Nuvali and Robinson’s Sta. Rosa Market.

Most routes start as early as 12 MN and buses come every 30 minutes to an hour but trip times will vary depending on the severity of Manila traffic. 

UBE Express stops are found at the Main Arrivals Area for Terminal 1, Arrivals Bay 17 for Terminal 2, Arrivals Bay 14 for Terminal 3, and the Arrivals Exit for Terminal 4. Every bus has air-conditioning and Wi-Fi access. For full routes, updated schedules, and reservations, visit their Facebook page and/or website. 

By City Buses

Bus in EDSA going to NAIA

Terminals 1, 2, and 3 are accessible via city buses. 

For Terminals 1 and 2, there are nine bus routes that will take you to many places in Metro Manila. Eight of them run through Epifanio de los Santos Avenue or EDSA, a highway that runs through most of Metro Manila while one runs through Circumferential Road 5, also known as C-5.  

The buses have a one-way route, meaning they stop at Terminal 2 then at Terminal 1 exclusively in that order. Terminal 1’s bus stop is just after the departures ramp across the short-term parking lot and the Greeter’s area while Terminal 2’s bus stop can be found beside the departures ramp and after the entrance gate of the Manila International Airport Authority office. 

The buses run 24 hours a day with considerably less buses at night. To know where the buses are going, keep an eye out for the signs on its dashboard which will detail its route.

City buses are generally air-conditioned and have overhead space but are normally very full with everyday commuters so this isn’t the most recommended mode of transport for travelers with large luggage. 

Terminal 3 has Citylink buses that follow a fixed route going from NAIA to Eastwood City in Quezon City and vice-versa. The bus passes through C-5 and has a stop at Resorts World Manila just across the airport. 

All buses operate every day except on Sundays. NAIA-Eastwood buses are from 6:00 AM - 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM with the exception of Saturday’s PM schedule being only one bus that departs at 4:00 PM.

Eastwood-NAIA buses, on the other hand, run from 6:00 AM - 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM - 7:30 PM, with Saturday also having it’s only PM departure at 5:00 PM. 

Terminal 4 has no city buses directly available. You can arrive by taking any bus going to Terminal 3 and alight there to take a shuttle going to Terminal 4 instead and vice-versa.

By Minibus

The Airport Loop service takes passengers from Terminal 3 to MRT-3 Taft Avenue Station and vice-versa. The route ends at Giselle’s Bus Terminal whose location is beside the station. It’s also a transport hub filled with a variety of buses that go to destinations outside Metro Manila. 

By Jeepney

Jeepney in front of Manila City Hall

Jeepneys are a cheaper and smaller alternative to buses. They can accommodate up to 18 people, have no air conditioning, and have multiple stops. This is convenient for passengers looking to alight at specific places but if you’re traveling with a large amount of luggage, we don’t recommend riding a jeepney. 

There are three routes that go around NAIA: Nichols-Vito Cruz-EDSA-Tramo, Baclaran-MIA, and Domestic Airport-Baclaran-South Pier.

The Nichols-Vito Cruz-EDSA-Tramo route passes by all terminals and stops near Giselle’s Bus Terminal located just beside MRT-3 Taft Avenue Station.

The Baclaran-MIA route starts at Quirino Avenue and ends near LRT-1 Baclaran Station and services Terminals 1, 2, and 4.

The same goes for the Domestic Airport-Baclaran-South Pier route with the huge difference being that it ends at Manila South Harbor and has additional stops that cater to certain locations in Manila.

The Baclaran routes first stop in front of Terminal 4 before proceeding to Terminal 2 and 1’s respective designated bus stops, exclusively in that order. Meanwhile, Terminal 3’s jeepney stop may be found beside the Circulo del Mundo Rotonda, just outside the airport.

If you’re not keen on going that far, an alternative would be to alight at Resorts World Manila and cross Andrews Avenue to get to Terminal 3.

By Taxi

Taxis are another option for transportation to get around the city. It’s especially easy and convenient for travelers looking to get to the airport since the drivers already know where to take you. 

There are official yellow-metered airport taxis available with a fixed base rate. These taxis are officially registered and have their own taxi stand directly outside the terminal.

To know what your average cost should be, look up how far your destination is to avoid getting overcharged. If you find yourself with a taxi driver that wants to offer a fixed rate instead of using the meter, always insist on using the meter.

Regular white taxis are also available for hire. Similar to the official yellow airport taxis, they also go to almost any destination within Metro Manila, have fares that cost depending on distance, and you should also always insist on using the meter.

The major difference is that while white taxis are cheaper, they’re only allowed to drop off passengers at the departure levels of each terminal. They’re not allowed to pick up arriving passengers but you can always go down to the departures level via elevator and catch one from there. 

While the yellow and white taxis operate on a calculated fare scheme, special coupon taxis have fixed prices per destination. They’re sometimes found as SUVs or minivans, which would be particularly useful for groups.

By Grab

Another private option would be to use the ride-share service Grab. Similar in function to taxis, Grab differs in the use of its app and its many methods of payment, allowing for cashless transactions and only needing to pay the pre-calculated fare found on the app. Toll charges are not included in the calculated fare.

By Private Transfer

If you’re keen on getting to the airport by a certain time, private airport transfers are one of the easiest ways to get to the airport. While slightly more costly, a private transfer guarantees that you only pay the agreed-upon rate and that your car arrives when you want it to.

This is unlike using a ride-share service that’s at the mercy of public demand and especially handy when traveling at night both in terms of safety and availability. It only requires that you book it in advance.  

By Car

Top view of EDSA

Driving to the airport is now made easier by the NAIA Expressway. NAIAx offers a direct path going to the airport by connecting NAIA to the Metro Manila Skyway, Manila-Cavite Expressway, and Macapagal Boulevard, allowing for easier travel between NAIA and the many parts of Metro Manila and other surrounding cities.

NAIAx is divided into two roads. Its shorter segment is connected to Macapagal Boulevard and the Manila-Cavite Expressway allowing for travel to Terminals 1 and 2 while the longer segment is connected to the Metro Manila Skyway and Terminal 3. Terminal 4 is unfortunately not accessible via NAIAx but is instead reached via Domestic Road. 

Tollgates are present at NAIAx. Crossing other expressways like the Metro Manila Skyway will also incur other toll charges. All four terminals have parking lots. Car rentals are also available for arriving passengers. 

Inter-terminal Transportation

The terminals are in separate buildings that are not connected so be mindful and double-check which terminal you fall under. 

Free shuttle buses are exclusively available for passengers traveling between terminals. The shuttle buses are normally stationed at the arrival area of every terminal under the sign “Transfers.”

Try not to take your chances and catch a shuttle immediately since the 24-hour schedule has a tendency to be unpredictable. If you’re in a hurry, try other means of transportation but the travel time will still depend on the severity of Manila traffic. You can also consider taking the 15-minute walk going from Terminal 1 to 2 and vice-versa via the International Cargo Terminal. 

Passengers with connecting flights from Philippine Airlines and PAL Express may ride the Philippine Airlines Airside Shuttle that runs between Terminals 2 and 3 while Cebu Pacific and CebGo passengers may also ride the airside service that runs between Terminals 3 and 4.

Hotels Near Manila Airports

Manila Airport Hotel

Located just across NAIA Terminal 1, Manila Airport hotel is a convenient option for a quick stay. It has a host of regular rooms that won’t break the bank. 

Oyster Plaza Hotel

Room in Oyster Plaza HotelPhoto by Oyster Plaza Hotel

This mid-budget hotel is located 4 km away from NAIA, and is also close to places like City of Dreams and Solaire Resort & Casino. The rooms are fitted with a flat-screen television and safes as well as free Wi-Fi in every room. There is a complimentary airport shuttle service.

Nichols Airport Hotel 

Nichols Airport Hotel in PasayPhoto by Nichols Airport Hotel

This budget hotel is 2.4 km away from the airport (particularly Terminal 4) and is also near attractions like Mall of Asia. It offers free Wi-Fi, cable tv, and 24-hour room service. They have a rooftop terrace and spa area for some quick relaxation. Airport transfers are free of charge.

Belmont Hotel 

Belmont Hotel in PasayPhoto by Belmont Hotel

This hotel is found within Resorts World Manila and located 1 km away from Terminal 3. Guests can enjoy the rooftop terrace, outdoor pool, and if the timing is right, a breathtaking view of the Manila sunset. There is a complimentary airport shuttle service or take a 5-minute walk using the Runway Manila skybridge to get to Terminal 3.

Holiday Inn Express Manila 

Holiday in Express Manila near the airportPhoto by Holiday Inn Express Manila

Frequent travelers will find comfort in this familiar brand of hotel. Passengers can take a 5-minute walk using the Runway Manila skybridge to get to Terminal 3 or ride their 24-hour airport shuttle service going to Terminals 1 and 2. Cebu Pacific passengers may also opt to check-in for their flights at the Resorts World Manila Travelers Lounge for a hassle-free wait.

Manila Marriott Hotel

Room in Manila Marriott HotelPhoto by Manila Marriott Hotel

Another familiar name nestled within Resorts World Manila, Marriott Hotel is known for its high-class elegance and convenience for business travelers. This hotel houses a casino and golf course as well as diverse dining options. They offer complimentary airport transfers to Terminals 1, 2, and 3. It’s also accessible via 5-minute walk using the Runway Manila skybridge connected to Terminal 3.

Maxims Hotel

This hotel is the most expensive within Newport City. It has a 6-star rating and equips rooms with individual in-room Wi-Fi and a personal butler. The hotel also houses a casino, bars, a nightclub, and a mall. Airport transfers are complimentary but passengers may also cross the Runway Manila skybridge to reach Terminal 3.

Sheraton Manila Hotel

View of Sheraton Manila HotelPhoto by Sheraton Manila

As part of Marriott Hotel, Sheraton Manila is the newest standing structure around Resorts World Manila. The hotel houses facilities like a spa, a scenic outdoor pool, a business center, and their fancy Korean barbecue restaurant Oori. It’s family friendly and offers babysitting as well as a Kid’s Club where children can learn. Their airport shuttle service is complimentary.

Practical Information and Tips

Check-In/Boarding Time

LED Board with Manila text

Double-check which terminal you have to be at and arrive at least three hours before your flight. There’s a security check before entering and the line often grows long.

Once inside, look for your airlines’ dedicated check-in counter. Some airlines offer web check-ins, opt for that if you can to avoid long lines as those often have dedicated counters. 

After successfully checking in, passengers on international flights must proceed to immigration.

There’s one last security check for every passenger and then you’re free to wait at your boarding gate or roam around the terminal. Take the time to check where your boarding gate is, just so you already know where to go. 

Fees

Foreigners on a short visit, overseas Filipino workers, Filipino permanent residents abroad with a stay of less than one year, and infants are exempted from paying travel tax. NAIA has a terminal fee for international and domestic flights which is usually already added to the cost of the ticket of every passenger.

Safety

Be wary of any non-uniformed personnel approaching passengers. Keep your documents close and always make sure that they’re always all accounted for. For luggage porters, there are official uniformed porters that can help you for a fee.

For overseas Filipino workers should watch out for the hold-departure order scam often conducted by immigration officers. Other known scams in this airport include the bullet-planting scam also known as tanim-bala.

While cases have subsided, continue to exercise caution by wrapping your luggage. Other passengers prefer using hardshell luggage, but others opt to wrap it in plastic wrap for any luggage that has zippers.

Currency

Bills of the Philippine currency

There are ATMs at all four terminals but they are located before the pre-departure area.

Most stores in the international wings of terminals accept pesos and US dollars, but for wings that serve domestic flights, always have pesos on hand. It’s also wise to carry cash at all times because plenty of stores do not accept credit cards.

Currency exchange services are also available in the Departures and Arrivals of every terminal. 

Language

English is a widely-spoken language in the Philippines. Signs can be found in both Filipino and English and the airport personnel are usually fluent in both languages as well.

Wi-Fi

NAIA offers free Wi-Fi in 30-minute sessions. Once the session is up you’re still able to reconnect. Local providers Globe and Smart also provide free Wi-Fi as long as you have a local number.

Terminals 1 and 2 have computer terminals with access to the internet as well and Terminal 2 has additional laptop desks beside its computer terminals.

Sleeping Lounge

The Wings Transit Lounge in PasayPhoto by The Wings Transit Lounge

Passengers with long connections can avail of Terminal 1 and 3’s lodging facilities. For Terminal 1, the Passengers Lodging Facility has day rooms available to rent for 24 hours. It’s located beside Gate 16 at the arrivals level and is air-conditioned. You may approach the Transfer Desk to reserve a room.

Terminal 3, on the other hand, has the Wings Transit Lounge which offers 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi, daily housekeeping, showers, and toiletries. It’s located on the 4th floor and accepts cash only. 

Airport Facilities

Luggage

NAIA Terminal 3 allows luggage storage with service provided by Luggage & More. The cost will depend on the size and how long you will store them. 

Service for Terminal 2’s luggage storage is provided by Philippine Airlines. Terminal 1 does not have a formal luggage storage service but passengers may leave theirs at the Interline Baggage Section beside the baggage claim area for a fee.

Post Office

The airport has two post office branches for any last-minute letters or postcards. Terminal 1’s post office is located in the west wing of the Arrivals lobby, while Terminal 2’s is located beside the Pass Control Office on the South Wing. Both are open on weekdays from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Stamps are purchased at most stores in their respective terminals and they’re also able to hold mail over the weekend and bring it to the post office on Monday. 

Smoking Areas

There are no free smoking areas within the airport building but a few restaurants have smoking areas for customers. Terminal 1’s is located close to the transit lounge in Arrivals, Terminal 2 has The Tinderbox which serves as its smoking lounge, Terminal 3 has several locations on the third level as well as other select restaurants. Terminal 4 does not have any smoking lounges.

Family-Friendly Facilities

NAIA Terminals have nursing rooms with playpens, bottle warmers, and diapers. Terminal 1’s is located at the Departures area and Terminal 2’s is located at Airside in both North and South wings. Terminal 3 and 4’s nursing rooms are both located in their respective Pre-Departures areas.

NAIA also has Kiddie Traveler Lounges in Terminals 1, 3, and 4. It has a play area, toys and games, cartoons on TV, changing rooms, and feeding stations. Terminal 1’s is located near the Transit Lounge from 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM and allows children up to age 14.

Terminal 3 has two lounges, each at the domestic and international pre-departure areas. Terminal 4’s lounge is located at the Pre-Departure Hall near Gate 5 and allows children up to age 7.

Places of Worship

Our Lade of the Airways ParishPhoto by Our Lady of the Airways Parish

There are several places of worship in NAIA. All four terminals have Christian Chapels while Terminals 1, 2, and 3 have Muslim prayer rooms. They have foot basins and Qiblah directions inside. There is also Our Lady of the Airways Parish Church, the airport’s official church, just outside the airport on NAIA Road.

Shopping

Duty Free in the PhilippinesPhoto by Duty Free Philippines

Duty-free shopping is available at Terminals 2 and 3. Terminal 3 is also connected to a 4-level shopping mall.

Waiting area in NAIA

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