Due to red tape and poorly designed infrastructure, transferring between flights at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (IATA: MNL / ICAO: RPLL) – commonly referred to as NAIA – is more complicated than at other major aviation hubs.
NOTE: This Airport Guide and the separate posts linked to it should be used only for general guidance. Details may change at any moment and without prior notice.
- Inter-terminal shuttle service
- Airline-specific flight connection policies
None of the terminals at MNL is physically connected to any of the others. To some degree, MNL’s four terminals function like separate airports, with purely airside inter-terminal connections all but impossible for many passengers and with minimum connection times stretching into hours.
Unless they’re travelling end-to-end with Philippine Airlines – who do offer limited airside connectivity – or unless the airline instructs otherwise, passengers transferring between international flights using different terminals may need to exit through quarantine, immigration, and customs (collecting their bags as they do) and check in again for their subsequent flight as if it were a separate journey. In this case, even if a passenger has no intention of visiting the Philippines, they must comply with Philippine visa regulations and other border control requirements as they will be making a formal entry into the country before the connecting flight.
When transferring from an international flight to a domestic flight, you MUST first pass through quarantine, immigration, and customs unless the airline advises otherwise. Barring special arrangements, you will not be able to transit airside and your luggage will not be automatically transferred through to the final domestic destination. (Note: Depending on the carrier, bags might be pre-tagged to the last airport. You would still need to claim them for customs clearance at MNL and re-check them in afterwards.) As there are no border formalities for internal travel within the Philippines, local authorities must evaluate your qualifications for admission and screen your baggage at the actual port of entry, which is MNL and not the final airport you are flying domestically to.
As always, you should confirm all details of transit procedures with your airline in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises on the ground.
INTER-TERMINAL SHUTTLE SERVICE
The airport authority runs an hourly complimentary landside shuttle for the exclusive use of passengers connecting between flights in different terminals. (Note: an airline ticket is needed to avail of this service.) Click here to learn more.
In addition, Philippine Airlines runs a complimentary airside shuttle between Terminals 1 and 2 for passengers on qualifying connections. Refer to their website for details.
AIRLINE-SPECIFIC FLIGHT CONNECTION POLICIES
Philippine Airlines (PR)
PR offers airside connections for certain types of flight transfer (albeit requiring more time and involving more intermediate checks than at other, better-integrated airports). Refer to the links supplied below for further details.
Connecting flights – This page sets out the airline’s general policies and procedures for transfers, including minimum connecting times.
NAIA Transfer Guide – This PDF document contains detailed, step-by-step procedures – including terminal maps – for different flight transfer combinations (international, domestic, inter-terminal, etc.).
Transit Baggage Guide – This image outlines what connecting PR passengers need to do with their baggage when changing flights.
Note: A recent social media post (issued via the airline’s official Facebook page on 07 April 2023) states that passengers travelling with PR to a small number of domestic destinations don’t need to self-transfer their checked luggage to T2 when connecting from a PR international flight that docks at T1. As the post is confusingly worded, passengers should contact PR directly and confirm what arrangements will apply to their specific case.
Cebu Pacific (5J)
Low-cost airline 5J is a point-to-point carrier and does not operate fully checked-through connections. When flights are searched for on their website, any results involving a transfer are displayed with the following message: “This flight has a [time in hours/minutes] layover in [city/airport], which requires you to collect and check in your baggage again”.
Flight Connections and Disruptions – This page sets out the airline’s general policies and procedures for transfers, including minimum connecting times. (NB: The link appears to work correctly on desktop browsers but not on mobile devices.)
The following list is limited only to airlines that provide transit/connection information specifically for MNL on their official websites. Note that in some cases (e.g., Korean Air), website users must employ menus or search functions to bring up the relevant details (i.e., direct linking to the specific page isn’t possible). As some of the data on these websites is clearly out of date – or may not accurately reflect procedures as implemented on the ground – passengers should reach out to their respective airlines in order to confirm the steps that must be followed to ensure a smooth transfer.
Pingback: Airport Guide: NAIA (MNL) Terminal 2, International Arrivals | Within striking distance·