All but one of my work trips were flown via Philippine Airlines through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2. The terminal is also referred to as centennial terminal since it’s completion in 1998 coincided with Philippines’ 100th year of independence from Spain (although a marker in the terminal said it was constructed in August 1999). Today, Centennial caters specifically to local and international flights of Philippine Airlines (PAL, the country’s flag carrier) as NAIA Terminal 3 hosted Cebu Pacific in mid-2008.
When I was working for the two-month JICA study, both PAL and CebuPac operated from this crisp-white, wanna-look-modern airport. The check-in counters were usually divided into two sections, one for each airline. Now, PAL mans all the 28 check-in counters and filled it with the blue, white and red line separators. Gone are the yellow polo shirt-wearing staff of CebuPac and more yellow checkered formal-uniformed staff of PAL welcomed passengers.
I have gone through Terminal 2 dozens of times and probably through all of its boarding gates. I have also done my computing in all of its laptop stations at the boarding area and used both of its comfort rooms. I haven’t eaten on all of the food stalls though as some of them looks intimidating (read: expensive).
To give you an idea of what’s inside the boarding area (especially for those who have never flown via PAL) and as I got a little bored waiting for our flight, here are some fast facts about Terminal 2, mostly for the boarding area of domestic flights.
Getting to the airport- by taxi or by bus (those with MIA signs).
Entry to the airport – this was the first flight I took in PAL wherein I was able to enter the airport even without showing my ticket (I guess they adopted the NAIA 3 style already)
Baggage Scan – twice. One before check-in and one before entering the boarding area. Body check (or what’s that term again?!) is being conducted at each scan area. REMEMBER: Hand-carried bags must not have any liquid containers above 100ml and always check-in your umbrella, tripod, Swiss knives and any other “deadly” normal stuff. Otherwise, you might be “forced” to leave them behind (Merry Christmas to the airport staff!) or go back to the check-in counter (I don;t know if there’s an added fee. Since PAL fares include baggage allowance anyway, just check-in your luggage. It will take time claiming upon arrival to destination but at least saves you some trouble if in case you have these items.
Check-in counters- 28? (I didn’t really count this one). Upon entry, you can look at the screen directly in front (elevated) of you and cross-reference your flight number with the specific check-in counter.
Terminal fee – P200 (in Terminal 3 too!) paid separately prior to entering the boarding area (the receipt is stapled to the boarding pass and checked by Terminal 2 satff
Boarding gates – 8, S1 from the left section and so on to S8 at the right section (except S4 which is the “need-to-take-the-bus-to-get-to-the-plane” gate). Check your boarding pass for your assigned gate.
Airport-airplane Bridge (or whatever it is called) – I didn’t really count. But as far as I can remember, I have never walked from boarding gate to the plane without it (unless I used the bus)
Laptop stations – 4, 2 each section. Comes with tables, chairs and electric outlets. Sadly, wifi is not included. Even if there are a lot of “FREE wifi” connections being detected.
Seats – 5-in-a-group. Unlike Terminal 3′s cushioned seats, the ones at Terminal 2 are quite sturdy (read: hard) but not really uncomfortable.
Air-conditioning - I think the AC units are in those tall circular posts all-over the boarding section. I don’t know about you but I get cold easily so I always bring a jacket/sweater/shawl.
Comfort/Rest Room- 2, one per section. Payphones are outside (it’s like the wall to hide the CR) so as prepaid load vending machines (your bills should be as crisp as pringles to be accepted. seriously.)
LCD Television – 8 (two back to back, 4 each section)
Smoking Area – 1 (I think this is some kind of a restaurant/snack section as well. Never been inside since I don’t smoke)
Stalls (Food and Drinks, Coffee Shop, Books/Magazines) in order from S8-S1
Lola Babes – snacks, chips, noodles, drinks; Chipstead – hotdogs, sandwiches, shawarma, drinks; 1418 Food enterprise – two stall spaces, snacks, chips, cake/bread, drinks; Cafe France – coffee shop; Ya Kun Kaya Toast – Singapore coffee shop (never tried. intimidated by the perceived cost. hahaha); Vin Vin Kiosk – one part siomai/siopao cinnabon, one part snacks, noodles, drinks; Red Ribbon – bread, cakes, drinks; Christian Ventures Bookazine Corp. – broadsheets, books, magazines (local and international showbiz, lifestyle, business and news); Mister Donut – donuts, coffee and drinks; Cafe del Cielo Goldilocks – mostly cakes, breads, pasalubong packs, coffee and drinks; Massage Center – Whole body, chair, foot and leg, scalp. Minimum 20mins (P300), P900/hour.
(If you are a Mabuhay Miles Elite/Premier Elite Member, I think you can gain access to Mabuhay Lounge and all the food and drinks found within. A colleague who is a VERY frequent PAL flyer always manages to sneak out [read: not allowed!] some biscuits and soda for me whenever I ask him to. Hehe)
For prices, I believe softdrinks have a flat rate of P50. I’m guessing the noodles, water and other common snacks have the same price as well. If you want to save (or you’re just the typical “kuripot”), endure your thirst and hunger and enjoy the free snack combo of Coffee/Tea/Water (I usually have Tea AND Water) + Biscuit + Nuts.
As far as I know, PAL is the only domestic airline offering free snack. But if it’s the only thing that sets it apart from other airlines, I would gladly forego in-flight snack for a cheaper airfare from other airlines (for my personal travel at least). I think the only plus of PAL among my bosses is the perceived safety over other airlines and the “perceived” reputation of being on time most of the time (our flight was delayed due to other planes being prioritized for landing) but that’s another story.
Anyway, I hope these fast facts (or something) will help lessen the hassle you’ll go through when taking your PAL flight at NAIA Terminal 2. Happy flying!