This is your guide to surviving arriving at NAIA (MNL) Airport without searching for your ride for 2 hours. Tragically, NAIA has been rated by many as the worst airport in the world, which is too bad, because the Philippines is awesome, so it’s a shame that you have to arrive here at NAIA.
The first time I arrived at NAIA, I waited for about an hour in the wrong spot for our ride, even though our ride was already there. The first time I picked up someone from NAIA, they waited for about 2 hours in the wrong spot for me to pick them up, and this after their flight arrived at midnight. A late night, I assure you.
I am creating this guide so that you will not wait for 2 hours in the wrong spot when you arrive at NAIA.
Step one: Reestablish Contact
The first step to arriving at NAIA is to reestablish contact with the outside world. The easiest way to do this is to connect to the WiFi and message your ride on Facebook Messenger (or the app of your choice). In my experience, it’s not too hard to connect to the airport WiFi.
If all else fails, you’ll see vendors all around willing to sell you a sim card for your phone. If you’re having trouble finding your ride, it can be worth it to buy one. The sim card is often free, but they will try to sell you a bunch of load. Load is like the gasoline for your prepaid card plan. Make sure not to pay more than 100 pesos if you can avoid it. 100 pesos is about enough money to keep your phone working for 1 week. Don’t buy 1000 pesos of load.
As far as carriers, I suggest Globe over Smart. But both are okay.
Now that you’re hopefully connected with your friends, let’s look at where you will meet them, the true challenge of NAIA…
Terminal 2 (Philippine Airlines)
I’ve never arrived in Terminal 2, but I’ve dropped someone off there, and it seems fairly simple. As with all of NAIA, security can be pretty strict. Without being a passenger, often they will not let you inside the building.
That being said, if I’m picking you up, I’ll try to do it near the “International Arrivals” sign in the arrivals area. That area looks like this:
Actually, I made a video to help people see where they will be arriving:
Sound easy? I think it is. Terminal 1, on the other hand, is about as easy to navigate as Moria.
Arriving at Terminal 1 (everyone except Philippine Airlines)
This page has some good info on Terminal 1: https://www.silent-gardens.com/air-arrival.php#NAIA-1
Basically, if you arrive at Terminal 1, you have to be VERY, VERY careful where you wait for the person picking you up.
After going through customs, you will exit and find a few taxis and such on a street. However, this is NOT where you should wait for me. Security will not allow me to go there. I don’t know why. But I can’t go there.
Rather, you should wait for me in the “greeters area.” This is an area with a bunch of signs for family names. It is crowded, hot, and has a funny smell. To get there, CROSS THE STREET AND GO DOWN THE RAMP.
Cross the street and go down the ramp.
Either ramp will do. They both go to the same area. Once you are down the ramp, you will arrive in the greeter’s area. It looks like this:
You’ll know you’re there, because you’ll see signs that say:
“Family name: ABC”
i.e. If your family name is Campbell, you should stand under that sign.
Welcome to the Greeter’s Area. If you arrive there, I will find you and take you to food and shelter. Especially if you stand under the right family name sign.
See that “Ninoy Aquino International Airport” at the top of the picture? When you exit the airport, that is where you are. I can’t go there to pick you up. Security won’t let me. If you wait there I cannot take you to food and shelter. And trust me, after that flight, you’re gonna want some food and shelter. =D
So, just remember, remember, remember. Just repeat this over and over so that you will remember it after 30 hours without sleep. Save it as the background of your phone:
Cross the street and go down the ramp.
If you do that, all will be well. If you do not, prepare for a really long night.
If you’d like to read someone else’s guide, check it out. It’s not a bad read: