Flying domestically in the Philippines provides you with quick and fast transport to thousands of tropical destinations across 7000 islands. Needless to say there are not airports on all 7000
islands, yet a 1-2 hour plane ride gets you far from the hustle and bustle of Manila and deposits you in remote paradises.
Manila international airport has 3 terminal. Airphil express flies from the newest of all terminals, and the most controversial, terminal 3. Opened only a few years ago, terminal 3 was supposed to
replace the dilapidated and over congested terminal 1. However to this point the only foreign carrier to move into T-3 is ANA. Airphil express flies to two international destinations (Hong Kong and
Singapore) and multiple demostic destinations with their main hub in Manila and a smaller hub in Cebu.
Upon arriving at t-3 every passenger or family members wishing to say their farewells must go through security, have their bags scanned and have a quick pat down by security officers. It’s clearly
more a joke than anything but a deterrent to terrorism. The check in area is set up just like every other major airport in SE Asia with large check in areas that are sectioned off by letters or
numbers forming large rows that are horizontal to the front of the building with security located behind this. If you ever have been to Hong Kong or Singapore its a true knock off of their
departure lobby. Nonetheless it was nice for at airphil express check in each destination/flight number had 1-2 lines dedicated for that specific destination. Our line had approximately 5 people in
it. Once the neighboring line was done checking in their patrons (different destination) we were quickly called over and allowed to check in, despite it not being labeled for our destination.
| Each monitor had a different city/flight|
listed for check-in
Airphil express check in was quick, the agents friendly and helpful and very polite the entire time. Everything was yes sir, no sir, Thank you sir. And ALL smiles! The entire time all I
could think of was how pleasant it was in compared to check in at US airports. In additional the Philippines has the same ridiculous 3oz fluid law as North America for domestic flights so to
counter this airphil express allows 15kg (33lbs) of checked luggage per person for free (A double-wide delight)! We checked one bag (full of sun cream, toiletries, and a glass bottle of booze that
I had brought as a gift from the states). The agent then printed our boarding pass and we headed to the gates.
|Female security line|
The gate areas at T-3 are divided into two sections, domestic and international. Since we were flying to southern Luzon we headed towards the domestic section. Before entering each
passenger must show their boarding passes to agents, but no ID check. We were then allowed inside where we had to wait in a short line to pay the domestic terminal fee – 200 pesos (~5 usd). Then
again we cued in line for security. However for this we were divided into two lines, men and women. Thankfully the line for men was about 1/3 of the length for females and security was very strict
about keeping the females and males separated, unless the female was traveling with a man, then they could join the male line.
|Changing Boarding area from Cebu to Airphil|
Security was a breeze (again no ID check). This was very quick and similar to the security we went through when arriving at the departure hall. The only difference was we had to take off our
Next stop the boarding area. When we arrived at our gate, Cebu Pacific was in their final boarding to Legaspi. Once Cebu Pacific finished an airphil employee walked over, pushed a button on the
screen and it quickly flickered to the same city name but with airphil’s logo!
We boarded on time (the took our boarding passes but never checked our ID!), however the started the boarding process before the plane was ready for boarding. So we ended up standing on the ramp
for a few minutes behind a set of closed door awaiting to be let onto the the Jet bridge. Once they were ready, we heading down the jet bridge and onto the plane.
Our plane was a new Airbus a320 and my companion and I were seated in row 25 a&b about 7 rows from the rear of the plane.
| T3 was made for wide body planes, however|
only LCC are flying to T3 at this time
The plane was simple, single class configuration with “plus seats” in the exit and bulkhead rows available for purchase for a very nominal fee. We didn’t opt for pre-seat assignment (200
pesos at booking) or for the plus seats (200-500 pesos) for it was only a 45 minute flight and our tickets were only $45 a person r/t! Why add to this cheap ticket if we could avoid it!
Upon boarding and getting everyone seated the three attendants did a quick safety demonstration in English (not Tagalog) and we were ready for push back. After a 5 minute delay the captain came
on the overhead speakers and introduced himself, gave us all our flight information and informed us we were number 3 for push back (in the Philippines planes must be manually pushed from the
gates) and it would be another 15 minutes. After only 9 minutes we were pushed back and taxiing towards the runway.
Upon taxiing we cued with the other airplanes and the pilot announced we were number 4 for take off and it would be approximately 15 minutes. This time he was right and it did take 15 minutes.
MNL is a poorly designed airport with two intersecting runways, so planes cannot land and depart simultaneously.. so this clearly adds to waiting time.
50 mins after scheduled departure time we were in the air and en route to our destination. Like.most Asian carriers the fasten seat belt sign came off at 10,000 feet and a prerecorded
announcement was made that it was now safe to use portable electronic devices.
Following the announcement cabin service was quickly initiated and everything was for purchase like most low cost carriers in Asia. Soda was 50 pesos (~$1.25) and snacks ranged from 50-200 pesos
depending on what they were. In addition to food, airphil express branded t-shirts, coffee mugs, model airplanes and other souvenirs could be purchased. The FA were friendly but not pushy or over
bearing with their sales. We didn’t buy anything for we had already ate breakfast and had coffee prior to boarding.
|If you’re petite there’s plenty of leg room!|
In-flight entertainment: none
|My legs were a bit crammed|
Seat: Leather standard Airbus seat. No head rest flaps but still
comfortable. Being 5’10” my knees did hit the seat in front of me, but with room in the overhead bin for my suitcase I was able to stretch out and avoid this. In addition the seat recline was
twice that of a US airline and I felt as though I was laying on the lap of the couple behind me! It truely was comfortable but also a bit awkward because im used to seats that barely move. But
unlike US planes I instead pressed the little round button and leaned back into what felt like oblivion! In addition my travel companion is only 5’6″ and Filipino, so for him and most people on
the plane leg room was not an issue.
We landed in Legaspi on time and with amazing views of the small town, the local volcanos, sea, and tropical forests. We deplaned by steps onto the runway and
walked into the tiny arrival terminal. Out bags were carted over and loaded onto the single baggage claim belt. We actually watched the gentleman unload our bags doing so very carefully and not
throwing a single bag. Needless to say our bottle made the journy unbroken! I was impressed with the handling of our baggage!
Would I fly airphil express again? Yes! Would I recommended? Yes but only for a short flight, not a long haul!