Terminal 3 (T3) of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) can be a depressingly bland place in which to wait for a flight. Fortunately, it’s got a separate lounge floor with no less than three third-party facilities to choose from, in addition to lounges run directly by airlines. Today, we’ll have a look at one of T3’s third-party lounges, and we’ll see if it offers a major improvement over parking oneself in the general boarding area.
Welcome to the Skyview Lounge.
UPDATE (24 JUNE 2022): The Skyview Lounge has been rebranded as the MARHABA LOUNGE. As of my most recent visit to MNL T3 (03 June 2022), the sign above the door’s been changed to reflect the new name, and the entrance itself has been significantly remodelled. I did not use the lounge on that occasion and can’t comment on the state of the interiors, but I did manage a peek from the outside and it seemed that the furniture and fittings hadn’t changed much (if at all).
Note: The information and pictures presented here are drawn from my own experience of using the Skyview Lounge on 14 February 2019, updated with photographs and other details from a 26 March 2019 visit. I also took a quick peek through the door (though did not use the lounge) on 22 January 2020 and it looked essentially unchanged.
Operating hours, admission criteria, features/services and other details may change at any time without prior notice.
Lounge name : Skyview Lounge
Location : Airside 4th Level (one floor above Departures), MNL T3
Operating hours : Open 24 hours
Date of original visit documented in report : Thursday, 14 February 2019
Date of subsequent visit used to update report : Tuesday, 26 March 2019
Related links : Priority Pass / Dragonpass / LoungeBuddy
The Skyview Lounge is located on Level 4 of MNL T3, one floor above the international departures level. Note that it’s located in the airside zone – i.e., within the restricted area after immigration and security – so you’ll need to check in and complete all pre-departure formalities before you can access the lounge.
Follow the signs that say “Airline Lounges”…
…and then use the lifts or stairs near Gate 115 to go up one floor.
At last, the door.
Now for the rub: how does one get in without immediately getting kicked out again?
Airlines. Skyview is the designated lounge at MNL T3 for First and Business Class passengers flying with Emirates. (ANA also used this facility at one point, but they’ve since moved on to the PAGSS Lounge.)
Credit cards. Several issuers offer complimentary or discounted access to Skyview as a user perk, either directly or through arrangements with lounge access programmes. Given the extremely fluid nature of cardholder privileges, I won’t attempt to list any participating banks here. Check directly with your card’s issuer to confirm if it includes a lounge entitlement.
Lounge access programmes. Skyview is a participating lounge in the Priority Pass and Dragonpass networks.
Skyview is divided into two sections. One area is reserved for passengers of the airline/s contracting their services (currently Emirates), whilst the other is for general access (credit card and lounge membership holders). In my experience, general access guests have always been directed to turn left from reception. That said, I’ve also seen photographs taken by non-airline guests from the section on the right, so perhaps they alternate the use of the two halves depending on volume and other factors.
Here’s a shot of the general access section.
The next picture is of the other (reserved) section, taken whilst I was standing next to the reception desk.
Power points for charging mobile devices are available, but their awkward position under the side tables makes them very inconvenient to use.
In addition to the solo and twin seats that dominate the lounge (as seen in the picture above), there’s a row of tall counter seats right by the window.
It’s a decent vantage point from which to do a bit of planespotting, although the views are impaired somewhat because the windows are set quite far back from the edge of the building.
I’ll spread out a selection of photographs from my own brief plane watching exercise here, shorn of commentary in order to spare the general readership a long slog. If you’re interested, I’ve written further details into the name of each picture file – namely the airline, the manufacturer/model of the aeroplane, and (where identifiable) the aircraft registration number.
Ahh, now that was fun. Wish I could say the same about the place where I was sitting.
To be perfectly frank, the main seating area where guests spend most of their time doesn’t have the refined, exclusive feel one would ordinarily expect of an airport lounge. Tiled floors, padded seats that look as if they’d been stolen from a nursery, plain white ceilings and minimal wall decoration, and have I mentioned the tiled floors … put that all together and what you’ve got is a dentist’s waiting room. If a renovation is in the offing, I’d start by spreading some well-chosen carpet over the floor in at least the seating area (let the tiles stay, if they must, in the high-traffic buffet and reception areas). That alone should significantly improve the appearance and atmosphere of the lounge, even if the seats and the ceilings and all the rest are kept as they are.
Skyview’s simple buffet is divided into three sections. The one near reception features a small spread of finger food, served alongside hot beverages like coffee and tea.
Not much in the way of sugary treats, unfortunately. During one of my visits, the closest thing to dessert available was some fruit cocktail (likely from a tin) and packets of sweetened spread for bread rolls.
Here’s the same section on a different visit (about a month later). The coffee machine’s been swapped out for a metal urn. I’m not sure if this is a permanent change, but the urn does give off a more classic, premium vibe.
Facing this is a set of shelves stocked with other provisions. Bread rolls and cereal on the right…
…plus a selection of alcoholic beverages and dry snacks (nuts, crackers, etc.) on the left. I didn’t take a picture of that area, but here’s an image snapped by one of my travelling companions.
Then there’s the hot food counter next to the main seating area. I have no idea how often the menu is changed, but there’s always been something different on each of my visits to the lounge.
To give you some idea of what to expect, the spread laid out during one of my visits (14 February 2019) consisted of chicken congee, penne pasta with beef bolognese sauce, Korean chicken stew, and steamed white rice.
Close by is a refrigerator stocked with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Next to that is a water dispenser.
On the whole, it’s a very basic buffet: no made-to-order options, no substantial meat-based dishes, and very slim pickings for dessert. That said, if you’re not expecting much, I think the available options are more than sufficient to tide you over until the first in-flight meal.
The atmosphere might have been lacking and the buffet exceedingly basic, but it seems they’ve at least got the soft side of things well taken care of. The lounge staff were courteous and polite, ready to offer a set of utensils or to clear away used dishes even without prompting. On one visit, my father casually mentioned (not in the way of an order or direct request) that he wanted to relax with a beverage but wasn’t in the mood for a strong drink, and a staff member quickly blended him a gin tonic.
I also observed that the chafing dishes on the hot food station were promptly refilled as needed.
I’d like to mention as well that one of our travelling companions had a spot of trouble with his lounge access app; in fact, he’d been unable to get it working for a long time before our visit. A receptionist came to his aid and it was all sorted out in minutes.
Baggage. There’s storage space for luggage near reception. Note that the shelves are in an unsecured area near the entrance, so you should keep any bags containing valuables either on your person or right next to your seat.
Internet. Complimentary Wi-Fi available (access code issued at reception).
Newspapers and magazines. Self-service rack near reception.
Showers and toilets. There’s a small, fully enclosed shower room in the gents’ lavatory. A travelling companion reported seeing one in the ladies’ lavatory as well.
The gents’ lavatory was well maintained, but surprisingly small. Just one toilet booth (equipped with wall-mounted bidet), two urinals, and two washbasins. It’s probably more than enough on low-traffic days, but I can only imagine the, er, agony that might ensue if one needs to do urgent business whilst the sole toilet is occupied.
The Skyview Lounge won’t win any awards for interior design, that much is certain. With limited seating options and a dull decorative scheme, this facility doesn’t really set itself apart as much as it should from the sterile, hospital-like atmosphere that pervades MNL T3’s not-quite-finished interiors. At the very least, if management are concerned over the cost of a total refit, they can start by laying out some carpet on top of those awful tiles and the improvement will be immediate.
The catering could also be improved upon with more options for sweet treats, and perhaps one additional chafing dish stocked with a hearty meat-based course. Japanese-style beef curry comes to mind, due to its ease of preparation and consumption (just let the guests ladle a portion on top of the white rice that’s already available, and they’re ready to enjoy a piping-hot meal).
That said, I’m happy to acknowledge the excellent quality of service offered by the lounge staff. And even with the problematic areas of seats and buffet taken into account, the lounge is still a far better place to run down the clock until boarding time than the general waiting area near the gates.
All things considered, I’d be happy to use the Skyview Lounge again.