No, Don’t Go to NAIA 4-5 Hours Before Your Flight

Going too early may actually do more harm than good.

The immigration queue at the NAIA Terminal 2 as of 12:34 p.m. on April 7, 2017

The administration recently banned the Bureau of Immigration (BI) from using express lane income to fund the overtime pay of its officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). This move has since resulted to mass resignations and leaves of absence, and thus a shortage of immigration officers at NAIA.

According to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, 32 immigration officers have resigned, while 50 have filed leaves for up to six months, and 3,000 more have been on leave since February 17, shortly following the suspension of overtime pay.

On Tuesday, April 4, Philippines Airlines (PAL) issued an advisory to its passengers taking international flights to be at NAIA Terminal 2 at least four to five hours before departure in anticipation of the long immigration queues, and the influx of passengers over the Holy Week break.

But, two days after PAL’s advisory, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal urged passengers to arrive at the airport two hours (for domestic flights) and three hours (for international flights) before their time of departure instead, and consider that check-in counters only open two hours before a fight’s departure.

In a phone interview with DZMM, he said, “Kung ire-require po natin ang mga pasahero na 5 oras, nasa paliparan na, that will result to a congestion sa terminal. Lalo pong dadami ang pasahero natin sa terminal.”

(If we require passengers to be at the airport 5 hours before their flight, that will result to a congestion of the terminal.)

At a press conference on Thursday, April 6, Monreal stated that 120 immigration officers will be deployed to augment the staffing shortage in all three terminals of NAIA, and MIAA help desks will be set up to assist passengers.