This Airport Guide covers the landside departures zone – i.e., the area before outbound immigration – at Terminal 1 (T1) of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL).
Post last updated from first-hand experience : 08 December 2022 (based on 08 November 2022 departure)
Post last updated using other information : 21 December 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 landside area at Terminal 1 (T1) of 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 and outbound security.
To learn more about Terminal 1’s airside area (i.e., the secure, passengers-only zone from the immigration desks to outbound security and beyond), please read my separate report documenting what you can expect to see in that part of the building.
If you’re interested in Terminal 1 arrivals, click on this link to read my guide covering what passengers from overseas will encounter when entering the country.
For a broader overview of Terminal 1, 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.
- Check-in hall
- Waiting areas
- Pandemic-related measures
The departures level of T1 has two main entrances, both of which lead into a covered passageway adjoining the check-in hall.
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.
There are also two side entrances, one for each of the waiting areas at either end of the building. Even though these side doors are right next to the check-in hall, you cannot use them to access the airline counters (you’ll need to go through the main entrances instead).
The waiting areas at either end of the departures level can be accessed by the general public. However, the check-in hall – where the airline counters themselves are located – is for ticket-holding passengers only.
The check-in counters are arranged along the sides of the main hall.
Check-in procedures and counter arrangements – such as priority lanes for premium classes or passengers with special needs – will vary depending on the airline.
Despite the easing of pandemic-era border controls throughout the world, many countries still impose additional entry requirements (such as vaccination certificates). Whether or not these will be inspected at check-in depends on your final destination and transit point, as well as the specific requirements of the airline itself. As always, the responsibility for ensuring the completeness of all documentation falls upon the individual passenger.
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 and travel agencies either include the travel tax outright or offer passengers the option of prepaying at the point of booking. (A direct online payment option is also available.) Check with your airline or agent to confirm if the price you’ve paid includes this charge.
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 at the airport and pay what’s owed before the airline can issue your boarding pass.
***Please note that non-residents (including foreign tourists on short-term visits) are NOT subject to the travel tax.***
Keep in mind that the travel tax is NOT the same as the passenger service charge (PSC) levied on airport users. The PSC for MNL is routinely included in the price of ordinary tickets and doesn’t have to be paid separately at the terminal.
At T1, the TIEZA counter is located within the passengers-only enclosure of the check-in hall.
As of 08 November 2022 (when these pictures were taken), and subject to change without notice, the following services were available in the check-in hall.
- Baggage wrapping.
- Foreign exchange.
To serve as a visual guide, I’ve assembled the following gallery of images showing the service booths in the check-in hall as of 08 November 2022. These are arranged starting from the left side (if you’re facing towards the entrances) and moving to the right.
There are two sets of toilets in the check-in hall, one on either side of the glass doors leading to outbound immigration.
Passenger amenities within the enclosure include drinking water stations, luggage scales, and charging points. There’s also an information counter right in the middle of the space.
One thing to bear in mind: there’s very limited seating within the check-in hall itself.
More seats are available in the waiting areas on either side (see below). Keep in mind that if you walk out of the check-in hall into either waiting area, you’ll have to re-enter the check-in hall through the main doors.
The departures level of T1 has a waiting area at either end, flanking the central check-in hall. No passport or ticket is required to enter these two spaces.
The waiting area on the right side of T1 (that is, “right” if you’re facing the building from outside) is fitted with several rows of seats, two bank booths, cash machines (ATMs), and a government service counter for migrant workers. There was a cafeteria here in the past – which explains the now-misleading “Food and Drink” signs – but it ceased operations during the pandemic.
The other waiting area (at the opposite end of the building) is occupied by a branch of the Jollibee fast-food chain. This is the only dining facility available on the departures level before immigration.
Bear in mind that if you walk out of the check-in hall into either of the two waiting areas, you will not be allowed to return the same way. You’ll need to exit the terminal building and re-enter the check-in hall by way of the main entrances.
The wearing of face masks remains mandatory on all forms of public transport (whether by land, sea, or air) throughout the Philippines. Executive Order No. 7 (dated 28 October 2022) sets out the current requirements in respect of public health protocols throughout the Philippines. Do note that whilst mask wearing is no longer obligatory in many settings – except in public transportation, medical facilities, and other sensitive locations as specified in the Executive Order – the vast majority of locals still don masks both indoors and outdoors. Private establishments might also impose stricter requirements within their own premises and ask all patrons to put on a mask before entering.
Physical distancing (or “social distancing”) remains recommended, but is not rigorously enforced in practice.
Ready to pass through immigration and security? CLICK HERE to read my separate Airport Guide documenting MNL T1’s airside zone.