The perfect layover. Sometimes it's a concept that feels so unattainable, especially in a busy transit hub. If you can't seem to reroute yourself out of a layover, there are some precautions you can take to make air travel as pleasant as it can be.
For starters, read up on the airport's facilities so you'll know what to expect. If you are stepping foot into Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport, a small caution: reviews aren't quite as glowing as its Asian counterparts.
In most airports, getting one terminal to another is easy and accessible. But at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, it's quite a chore. There are four terminals at this airport. A free shuttle bus connects the terminals and is scheduled to run every 15 minutes. Sometimes the bus is not as punctual, leaving a more reliable option to be the cab. Traffic jams also are expected, so allocate more time for transfer between terminals if you have to.
Sneak in a little snooze 😴
It can be challenging to take a peaceful nap inside of this airport. There are hardly any comfortable areas given that the seats are made of metal and have armrests.
For greater comfort, grab some shut-eye at the Dayroom (T1). The room rates are US$33 for 24-hours. While each room comes with a bathroom, there is no wifi provided. You might also need some luck to book a room, seeing that the facility only has nine rooms and they do not take reservations.
Within the airport, the Wings Transit Lounge (T3) is your next option. Choose between reclining chairs, sleep capsules or private rooms for your nap. The reclining chairs are priced at US$14 for up to seven hours, inclusive of free wifi, finger food, and beverages.
For the sleep capsules, guests have access to similar offerings, plus shower facilities. Rates begin at US$20 for 7.5 hours. The private rooms feature a bunk bed and can fit two people. It is priced at US$36 for 7.5 hours and has the same facilities as the capsules.
For more luxurious relaxation, there are various hotels located across Terminal 3: Manila Marriott Hotel, Holiday Inn Express Manila Newport City, Maxims Hotel, and Sheraton Manila Airport. These hotels all come with free airport shuttle services. You may face a jam when you return back to the airport, so be sure to factor in more transport time.
Catch up on work 👩🏻💻
There's free wifi throughout the airport, but past travellers have reported it to be spotty. Wifi is available in 30-minutes sessions, so you'll have to reconnect again once it expires.
If you don't have much luck with the airport wifi, check out the airport lounges instead. First or business class flyers should check their respective airline lounges, while economy class passengers can purchase a day pass for access.
At Terminals 1 or 3, look for the PAGSS Premium Lounge, where you can do work in a quieter environment and with stabler wifi. Amenities also include snacks and beverages, shower facilities, and charging points. Entry fees are at US$25. Other pay-per-entry lounges in Terminal 3 include the Skyview Lounge and Pacific Lounge Club at US$22 per two hours and US$25 per four hours respectively.
Keep yourself entertained 🍿
Airports aren't typically known for entertainment options, and Manila's is no exception. Just a shuttle bus away is Resorts World, where you can visit the cinema or try your hand at the casino's slot machines and table games.
Alternatively, visit the El Calle Food & Music Hall for a tipple or two, accompanied by acoustic acts and bar chows. If that's your designated activity, be sure that your layover has the hours to kill.
Satisfy your hunger 🥗
Figuring out where and what to eat is often a dreaded task for many air travellers. This rings true for Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which has a scant selection of food choices.
If you have to choose, the most desirable out of the lot would be the popular local fast-food chain Jollibee for fried chicken. Or you can head down to the airport's saving grace: Terminal 3. Satisfy your Japanese food cravings here at Ramen Nagi or Tendon Akimitsu, or indulge in sweet treats at M Boutique or Café Mary Grace. If you are up for some local cuisine, Tapa King serves up Filipino comfort dishes like Beef Pares and Crispy Pork Adobo to soothe your layover blues.
For a quick boost of caffeine, grab your cuppa from Bluesmith Coffee, Katha Kape, or Tim Hortons.
Scratch your shopping itch 🛍
If a shopping spree is in order, make a trip to the airport's duty-free counters. While all terminals have Duty Free Philippines, the outlet at Terminal 3 has the widest range of products.
For those with longer layovers, venture out to nearby shopping centres like Newport Mall, a four-storey complex located in Resorts World with an array of high-end boutiques. Another option is the Mall of Asia. It is one of the largest shopping malls in the Philippines with over 700 stores and even an Olympic-size ice skating rink.
Pamper yourself 💆🏼♀️
Aching neck and shoulders? Perhaps the poor posture on your first flight has caused comfort to elude you.
Get a much-needed massage as soon as you land. SM Kenko Spa is a Japanese health spa in Terminal 3, providing solace and rejuvenation to weary travellers. Two-hour lounge access and a massage would cost US$16. The Wings Transit Lounge (T3) also provides massage for your aching muscles, starting from US$9 for a 30-minute massage and US$12 for a foot spa.
Stay fresh with a shower 🚿
Perk up your spirits with a quick shower, which will certainly jumpstart your mood and take the dreariness away. Shower facilities are located at the Dayroom (T1) and Wings Transit Lounge (T3), open 24 hours a day.
Making the best of it
Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport is a major hub that seasoned travellers try to avoid. It was voted as the world's worst airport from 2011 to 2013, according to a poll done by travel website sleepinginairports. It ranked poorly in terms of comfort, convenience, cleanliness, and customer service.
However, improvements have been made since then, with US$49.2 million injected into Terminal 1 for renovation works and plans for a new airport. Hopefully, such developments will translate to improved traveller amenities for a comfortable layover.