Irate customers in airports are not new. Complaints range from delayed/cancelled flights, to lost luggage, yet there seems to be little effort done to improve experience in airports. Despite leaps and bounds in technology, we still keep hearing horror airport stories.
A case in point is my recent experience in NAIA Terminal 2, also known as the Centennial Airport. We went out of town for a week, and just had a “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” experience in Dumaguete, Siquijor, and Cebu.
Our flight back to Manila from Cebu was in the evening, 9pm-ish. Fortunately, we were not super delayed. Just the regular few minutes late. In fact, the passengers wanted the flight to go much later because on TV was the basketball championship game of B-Meg and Talk & Text. As we were boarding, my family chose to board last because of the cliffhanger game (lol). B-Meg of course won! So we were really in high spirits, the kind of feeling you have when you have done all that you have set out to do.
But when we landed Manila and went out to get a cab home, we were slapped by reality. Welcome to Manila, indeed, with rude taxi drivers, or should I say, airport taxi operators who take advantage of passengers. We were approached by one operator, Nissan group, and charged Php800 for Moonwalk, Parañaque. Php800 for only a Php150 max when using the taxi meter. Also, Moonwalk, Parañaque is just on the other side of the fence! We chuckled and gave the Nissan guy a “Are you serious?” look and went off in a huff.
Good thing, there are now the yellow taxis, which are more reliable. Although the flag down rate (set at Php70.000 compared to Php40.000 with the ordinary taxi) is higher, it saves you from useless haggling and it issues a receipt. We were lucky, we got the last cab in the queue. Knowing that our flight was the last one, we were thinking, the next yellow taxi might take a while.
However, I think it’s time that our government improve our airport experience. Let’s make the slogan of the Department of Tourism a real one. Let’s make the tourists exclaim, “It’s more fun in the Philippines!” every time they come and visit.
Some areas for improvement in the airport
- Put luggage carousel announcements clearly and in strategic places. Often, we wouldn’t know which carousel to get our luggage. That evening, there was a guy who used his booming voice (no megaphone for him, poor guy) to welcome us and announce our carousel. We were all amused by him.
- Assign friendly personnel at the arrival area. Back in the day, airport personnel were stationed at the exit of the arrival area and would be checking the stickers of checked-in luggage. That way, too, people have someone to ask if they needed something. These days, passengers are freer to pick up their luggage (good thing, if they really picked up their own) and go. In the event that you needed some information, you had to look for someone yet.
- Provide well-lighted corridors/walkways. Brighter lights are more welcoming and they give tourists a safer feeling.
- Assign reliable airport transportation facilities. As I narrated above, I believe it’s the responsibility of airport management to provide (plenty of) reliable taxi service. Where is the fun, if upon landing Philippines, tourists are swindled by taxi drivers. And we all know this is happening. Sad.
- Do something about the air traffic now! This is an urgent concern bordering on emergeny. Business travel is sorely affected by all these delayed flights. If you are meeting someone at the airport, tell him to send you a text message when your plane has actually taken off. DOTC SOS!
Also, you may want to get some of these airport customer service reps who are holograms. I swear this will be interesting!