Airport Guide: NAIA (MNL) Terminal 3, International Departures – Landside (2nd Edition)

This Airport Guide describes what passengers departing on overseas flights can expect to see and do in the landside (public) zone of Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 3.

Post last updated from first-hand experience : 16 June 2022 (based on 03 June 2022 departure)
Post last updated using other information : 28 June 2022

NOTE: This Airport Guide should be used only for general reference purposes. Details may change at any moment and without prior notice.

IMPORTANT – PLEASE READ!: This Airport Guide has been updated to reflect changes brought about by the pandemic. However, because of the very fluid situation around health protocols and border restrictions, the accuracy and completeness of the information set out here cannot be guaranteed. Please refer to the official websites and verified social media channels of airports, airlines, government agencies, and other reliable sources to collect information that is both relevant and up-to-date for your specific needs.

Here, we’ll talk about the landside (public) area of the international departures wing at Terminal 3 (T3), Ninoy Aquino International Airport (common abbreviation: “NAIA” / IATA code: MNL) – the main airport serving Greater Manila in the Philippines. For our purposes, “landside” means everything before border control.

To learn more about Terminal 3’s airside area (i.e., the secure, passengers-only zone from the immigration desks and beyond), please read my separate report documenting what you can expect to see in that part of the building.

For a broader overview of Terminal 3, please click here to navigate back up to my portal post about the entire facility.

To learn more about the airport as a whole, please click here to view my comprehensive guide to MNL.

CONTENTS

ENTRANCES

The departures level of T3 has six main entrances, all facing the upper deck of the terminal building’s access road.

There’s a security checkpoint with baggage scanner and metal detector at each entrance, which is typical of airports in the Philippines. Note that this is in addition to, not in place of, the usual pre-departure security inspection next to outbound passport control.

Keep in mind that only passengers are allowed near the check-in counters, so guards posted at the main entrances will ask to see your passport and airline ticket before allowing you through. Long queues just to get into the terminal should be expected at peak times.

Passengers leaving their cars in T3’s parking building can use a side door that leads into the departures hall.

Finally, it’s also possible to enter via the Runway Manila footbridge that connects T3 to the nearby Newport City leisure/hotel district. This path takes you into the public retail/dining zone on Level 4, from where you can take a lift or escalator down to the departures hall.

MAIN DEPARTURES HALL (Level 3)

The fringes of the check-in lobby can be accessed by the general public, but the central area – where the airline counters themselves are located – is for passengers only. You’ll be asked to present your travel documents before being allowed into that part of the main hall.

Check-in counters

The check-in counters for domestic flights are in the northern part of the main hall, whilst those serving international flights are in the southern part. (Note: There is no physical separation between T3’s domestic and international halves in the landside zone, so it doesn’t really matter which entrance you use.) Refer to the flight information screens for specific counter assignments.

Check-in procedures and counter arrangements – such as priority lanes for premium classes or passengers with special needs – will vary depending on the airline. For example, if you’re flying with a budget carrier, you might find them using a single set of counters to process passengers bound for different destinations. A major airline that sees a lot of transit traffic will likely set up a preliminary inspection queue before the check-in counters, where staff can verify that passengers have all the required visas and other documents needed to complete their journeys.

Despite the easing of pandemic-era border controls throughout the world, many countries still impose additional entry requirements. These may include vaccination certificates, coronavirus test results, entry permits, travel passes, contact tracing apps and so on. Whether or not all, some, or none of these will be demanded at check-in depends on your final destination and transit point, and possibly the specific requirements of the airline itself. As always, the responsibility for ensuring the completeness of all required documentation ultimately falls upon the individual passenger.

Self-check-in kiosks are by no means ubiquitous at MNL, but some airlines do offer this option. Bear in mind that travel document checks are routinely required for international flights, particularly for destinations with strict visa and/or pandemic-related entry requirements. Hence, using these kiosks for international flights won’t automatically spare you from having to queue up at a counter to be verified by staff (whether or not you’ve got baggage to check in).

Travel tax

With limited exceptions, residents of the Philippines must pay a so-called “travel tax” of PHP 1,620 every time they fly out of the country in economy or business class. A higher rate of PHP 2,700 applies to first-class tickets. Certain travellers qualify for reduced rates or outright exemptions; refer to the TIEZA website for details.

Some airlines include the travel tax outright or offer passengers the option of prepaying at the point of booking. You might also find it included in tickets purchased from local bricks-and-mortar travel agents. (Furthermore, a direct online payment option is also available.) Check with your airline or agent to confirm if the price you’ve paid already includes this charge.

Now if you’re subject to the duty and it hasn’t been settled in advance, you’ll need to visit the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) counter and pay what’s owed before the airline can issue your boarding pass.

***Please note that none of this is relevant to non-residents (like most foreigners on short-term visits), as they’re not subject to the travel tax in the first place.***

One final point: the travel tax is NOT the same as the passenger service charge (PSC) levied on airport users. As in many other parts of the world, the PSC for MNL is already included in the price of your ticket and doesn’t have to be paid separately at the terminal.

Other facilities

There are several cash machines (ATMs) and bureaux de change within the semi-restricted check-in area, but those are pretty much the only customer amenities to be found hereabouts.

You’ll need to go outside the enclosure – either to the fringes of the main hall, or up to Level 4 – to access other services.

SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS (Level 4)

The retail zone overlooking the main hall has a range of dining and shopping options.

The shops and restaurants on Level 4 are accessible to both passengers and the general public. However, only passengers can use the middle escalators directly connecting the retail zone and the central area of the main hall. Security personnel posted at the top of these escalators (which lead down to the check-in counters) may inspect your travel documents before allowing you through.

A fair number of tenants have had to cease operations due to the massive drop in passenger traffic during the height of the lockdowns. However, as of my most recent flight out of T3 (on 03 June 2022), there was still a decent variety of both shopping and dining options on offer.

There’s also additional seating to be found up here, in case the limited space down on Level 3 is mostly taken up (or too crowded for comfort).

AIRPORT HOTEL (Level 4)

There’s no full-service hotel on the premises, but very very basic accommodations are available at The Wings Transit Lounge (official site / TripAdvisor reviews / Facebook). Their offering includes recliners, Japanese-style capsules, and private rooms fitted with bunk beds. Shower facilities are shared.

Bear in mind that this facility is located within T3’s landside (public) area, and is therefore inaccessible to departing passengers who are already in the airside (restricted) part of the terminal.

If you’re after a better class of accommodation, you’ll need to look outside the airport. Cross the motorway in front of T3 using the Runway Manila footbridge – more about that in a separate guide – and stay in one of the full-service hotels sprinkled across the Newport City leisure district.

PANDEMIC-RELATED MEASURES

The wearing of face masks remains mandatory in all public spaces and all forms of public transport (whether by land, sea, or air) throughout the Philippines. Please bear in mind that their use is required by the Philippine government and is not within the discretion of terminal management or individual business establishments. Current rules stipulate that everyone must don a face mask at all times, with only the following permitted exceptions (source – see page 20):

  • Whilst eating or drinking.
  • When participating in team or individual sports within properly ventilated venues.
  • Whilst engaging in outdoor sports or exercise in settings where physical distance can be maintained.

Face shields are no longer required.

Physical distancing (or “social distancing”) remains recommended, but is not rigorously enforced in practice.

From 28 November 2020, all passengers were required to install the TRAZE contract tracing app before using any airport in the Philippines. This is still described as mandatory on some – but not all – airline websites, and unless an authoritative source advises to the contrary it may be best to err on the side of caution and download the app in advance. That said, when I last flew out of T3 (on 03 June 2022), at no point was I ever asked to show, scan, or in any way use the app, and this observation is corroborated by anecdotal evidence from other travellers.

Finally, keep in mind that the loosened restrictions currently in place at the airport are contingent on the wider area (i.e., Metro Manila) remaining at Alert Level 1, the lowest tier in the government’s quarantine and transmission risk management system. The latest set of designations (announced on 27 June 2022) keeps Metro Manila in Level 1 until 15 July 2022 (source). A spike in virus cases and hospitalisations may lead to the imposition of a higher alert level, and consequently trigger the reintroduction of tighter control measures. Stay abreast of local news and monitor developments on the IATF website (especially new resolutions) in order to anticipate what, if any, rules might be in force on the day you travel.

Ready to pass through immigration and security? CLICK HERE to read my separate Airport Guide documenting MNL T3’s airside zone.

4 responses to “Airport Guide: NAIA (MNL) Terminal 3, International Departures – Landside (2nd Edition)

  1. Pingback: Airport Guide: NAIA (MNL) Terminal 3, International Departures – Landside | Within striking distance·

  2. Pingback: Airport Guide: NAIA (MNL) Terminal 3, International Departures – Airside (2nd Edition) | Within striking distance·

  3. Pingback: Airport Guide: Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (MNL T3) | Within striking distance·

  4. Pingback: Airport Guide: NAIA (MNL) Terminal 3, International Arrivals | Within striking distance·

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