VIRAL: Why Is Transiting Through NAIA So Confusing and Difficult?

We deserve better.
by | August 11, 2023

The Philippines may have some of the best travel destinations in Asia and in the world, but finding your way around our Manila airports is an experience one must be prepared for. From sudden power outages to long immigration lines, it’s no wonder that NAIA is ranked as the third most stressful airport in Asia and Oceania. One Pinoy traveler’s post about the frustrations of transiting through NAIA just went viral, because we all know the struggle:


Here’s what happened

In a Facebook post, designer PJ Arañador shared his confusing experience as a local passenger who needed to transfer from NAIA Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 to catch another flight.

Upon exiting Terminal 3, he saw a P2P bus (decked with the new tourism campaign) parked at the arrival bay. Displayed against the windshield of the vehicle was a small sign labeled “Terminal 1, 2, 3, 4”. Understandably, Arañador — along with other travelers — assumed that it was the correct vehicle for terminal transfers.

However, when they asked the driver, he insisted that he was headed to Pasay, contrary to the signage on his bus. Arañador was even told, “Ganuon talaga dito sa Manila (This is what it’s like in Manila)  after he expressed his confusion, implying that he just didn’t know how things worked in the big city.

Feeling defeated, other passengers just went with the usual taxi ride.


Confusion for both locals and foreigners

There’s plenty to unpack from the frustrating experience, and we can make a long list of everything that’s wrong. But ultimately, it all boils down to poor management and a waste of resources. In the comments of the post, netizens even shared that they’ve seen these buses leave without passengers.

Just imagine what it’s like to be a foreigner who just needs to transit in the Philippines, only to be greeted with the hassle of our airport services. Or being an OFW who’s excited to be reunited with family but needs to face more delay – the list of horrors goes on.


Filipino travelers deserve better

While many would just accept defeat and do the next best thing to alleviate themselves of more stress, Filipino travelers deserve better. Arañador’s frustration isn’t an isolated case — it went viral precisely because we’ve all experienced the frustration of traveling in the Philippines.

via Reddit


Where to find free airport shuttles in NAIA

Transferring to different terminals in NAIA can be challenging. Unlike many other international airports, its terminals aren’t connected, so you have to leave one terminal to get to another. However, there are free airport shuttles in NAIA.

These free airport shuttles operate in all NAIA terminals 24 hours a day, according to Manila Airport. Passengers are picked up every 30 minutes from 5:00 AM to 11:00 PM and every 50 minutes from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM. Here’s where you can find them:

  • Terminal 1: Extreme right side of the arrival level. Don’t exit the terminal.
  • Terminal 2: You would have to exit the terminal and go right.
  • Terminal 3: At the arrival level, turn left. Keep walking and take another left. Don’t exit the terminal.
  • Terminal 4: At the arrival zone, go left.

Take the free airport shuttle only when you don’t have a lot of luggage and have time to spare in between transfers.

If you’re traveling with multiple luggage, fragile items, or kids, it’s recommended to take a metered taxi or book a Grab car.


What are the available modes of public transportation in NAIA terminals?

Bringing a private vehicle may be the most comfortable option for locals, but most still rely on public transportation. As of writing, here are the available modes of public transportation for passengers:

  • Free airport shuttle only for terminal transfers
  • UBE Express – Point-to-point buses that will take you to different areas around the metro
  • Taxi – there’s a taxi line across the arrival bay and works on a ticketing system
  • Grab Car – the most comfortable option but booking can also be challenging and it’s also expensive


What can be done?

Seeing actual change in our Manila airport services will take time for sure and we continue hoping to see them sooner. But what can we do when we’re the ones adjusting to poor services and facilities?

Keep on giving feedback, and let your woes be heard. We can’t really blame others for “complaining” as there’s clearly lots to complain about. We deserve better.


Have you had a similar experience? Share your story in the comments below!


Looking for other places to explore? Join’s official Facebook community What’s Your Trip PH for more recos!


When she’s not writing, Ina’s busy curating playlists that will save her when words don’t work, reading, annoying her cat, or thinking of her next meal.

Post a Comment