This Airport Guide covers the second part of the departure experience for passengers flying from Boracay Airport (also known as Caticlan Airport), the main domestic gateway for the eponymous resort island in the central Philippines.
Post last updated from first-hand experience : 10 October 2022 (based on a 12 September 2022 departure)
Post last updated using other information : 10 October 2022
NOTE: This Airport Guide should only be used for general planning and reference purposes. Details may change at any moment and without prior notice.
In this post, we’ll go through the final stages of the departure process at Boracay Airport (IATA code: MPH) – also known as Caticlan Airport or (far less commonly) Godofredo P. Ramos Airport. Our present concern is the terminal’s departures lounge and the actual boarding procedure.
The initial stages of the departure experience, from check-in to outbound security, are covered in a separate post.
If you’d like to read about the arrival process at MPH, please click here.
- Inside the terminal – after final security
- Boarding process
- Enjoy the view as you take off
INSIDE THE TERMINAL – AFTER FINAL SECURITY
Dining and retail
As you walk from security screening towards the far end of the departures lounge, you’ll pass three shops selling a variety of food and beverages. The first is Treats, which offers the sort of basic comestibles you might find in a petrol station convenience store (pre-packaged snacks, baked goods, chilled soft drinks, etc.).
A little further along is Bluesmith. This place is essentially a café, but it’s also the closest thing in MPH to a proper restaurant as there are hot meal options on the menu. Moreover, it’s the only establishment fitted with its own dining area.
To the left of Bluesmith is The Coffee Shop of Unspeakable Horror. What can I say – they’re everywhere. Try as you might, you cannot escape them. Flee to the ends of the earth, they’ll appear in tenacious and grim pursuit.
Having escaped the clutches of doom – or perhaps succumbed to them, if you simply can’t live without a Frap***cino® – you’ll eventually reach the end of the departures lounge. The sole tenant of this remote corner is Islands Souvenirs, which represents your last opportunity to stock up on Boracay-themed T-shirts.
And that’s it.
No, really…that is literally everything in respect of dining or retail. Small terminal, small range of options – it just comes with the territory, mate.
The seats in MPH’s departures lounge are as basic as they come. Row upon row of bland, boring, sick-grey metal gang chairs positioned in uncomfortable proximity to each other.
Crowding amongst the seats near the gates should be expected towards boarding time, and movement across or between rows is difficult owing to the poor allocation of space. Regrettably, with no third-party or airline lounges of any kind in the departures area, your only alternative is….well, to remain standing. (Or to buy something from Bluesmith and park yourself in their dining area.)
There are two sets of toilets in the departures lounge: one immediately after security screening (close to Gate 3), and another near the far end (facing Gate 4).
There is a breastfeeding room near the second set of toilets (across the way from Gate 4), towards the end of the departures lounge.
You’ll find a charging station fitted with conventional power outlets right up against the far wall, a stone’s throw from Gate 4.
The departures terminal has two boarding gates: Gate 3 near outbound security, and Gate 4 on the other side of the hall. (“1” and “2” presumably refer to the entry gates in the arrivals terminal.)
Stretching away from either gate is a lane – cordoned off with a retractable belt barrier – through which departing passengers are funnelled towards the service desk.
In the case of Cebu Pacific, a separate priority queue will be organised right next to the boarding door when departure time approaches. Other airlines might employ a similar arrangement (though I can’t attest to that first-hand).
From the terminal to the aircraft
As a small, single-level airport, MPH does not employ aerobridges to load or unload aircraft. An added complication is the fact that aircraft must park on the apron at the eastern end of the runway – on the other side of the compound from the departures terminal.
After the call for boarding is issued, you’ll need to queue up at the gate and shuffle forwards to the service desk. A staff member will scan your boarding pass and quote the number of your assigned bus. Walk through the door and proceed to the airside parking area, where you’ll need to locate and board the vehicle whose number was assigned to you at the gate.
There are at least two types of bus used at MPH. From my observation, most are of the long-distance road variety with transverse seats (similar to the one in the picture below). I’ve also seen at least one commuter-type coach fitted with a mix of longitudinal and transverse seats plus standing room in the middle (closer in form to a typical airport bus).
The airport compound lacks a segregated road network for service vehicles, and is also currently without a full-length taxiway. Because of this, the shuttle buses must travel on the runway itself in order to ferry passengers from the departures terminal to the distant apron. This tends to hold up the boarding process as the runway is off-limits every time an aircraft lands or takes off, which means that passengers on the buses might wait for a considerable period before their vehicles are cleared to proceed.
In any event, once clearance is granted, the buses will travel in a convoy all the way to the apron.
After the doors of your bus swing open, you’ll walk out onto the apron and climb aboard the waiting aircraft by way of a ramp or mobile stairs.
And that’s done!
All that’s left is to fasten your seatbelt, settle in, and…
ENJOY THE VIEW AS YOU TAKE OFF
Needless to say, the quality of the view will depend upon the prevailing weather and time of day – not to mention your place in the aircraft and what direction it’s travelling in as it lifts off the runway. I filmed the following video (on 12 September 2022) through a right-side window on an Airbus A320neo that traversed the runway from east to west; note the sweeping views of Boracay Island (from about 0:40) and of the airport itself (roughly 1:55 onwards).
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