roaming around Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3

Most of the time, an urban roamer like myself confines himself in his travels in and around the city. But there are occasions that I get to go beyond my “natural borders” like my recent vacation abroad. (which by itself is another story) That particular round trip onboard Cebu Pacific has found me boarding and disembarking at the youngest terminal of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. otherwise known as NAIA’s Terminal 3. Quite frankly, this would be the first time I’ll be able to fully go around and explore a NAIA airport, as my previous airport experiences were limited to the Manila Domestic Airport.

NAIA Terminal 3: departures at the upper (elevated) level, arrivals at the lower (street) level

Terminal 3 by itself has a long and “colorful” history ever since building for it began in around 1997. It was supposed to open in around 2002 if not for the long and costly litigation that arose from the original contract for the building terminal which was deemed “onerous” by the Philippine government, not to mention the repairs that had to be done throughout the time. The case was eventually won by the Philippine government a few months ago in Singapore court, as well as in Washington previously; the government hopes to be able to fully utilize the terminal by year-end.

For now, the only 2 carriers servicing the terminal are Cebu Pacific (the first airline to use Terminal 3 in 2008) and Airphilexpress. The present underutilization of Terminal 3 shows when you see the number of check-in counters that are yet to be filled up. I read it is supposed to be the largest terminal of NAIA so I hope more airline carriers get to use it in the future.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the architecture of the terminal building: international in style but not much garish in design. I personally like high ceilings and windows at the top that provide natural light in daytime.

Another advantage of NAIA 3 is how easily accessible it is to public transportation. You can just ride a jeep that plies along the Nichols/Villamor area (Villamor Air Base itself is near Terminal 3) drop off at the wide parking area outside the terminal and just walk to the building, perfect for those who are on a budget and/or have light luggage to bring to a trip. There are also shuttle services that go around the NAIA Loop (Domestic Airport and Terminals 1 and 2) as well as nearby areas like Baclaran and EDSA-Taft Avenue intersection for a minimal fee.

location of NAIA Terminal 3, just right along the main thoroughfare which is Andrews Ave.

It’s also good to know there are a number of merchants and duty-free shops already set up in the building, though there’s not much variety there yet.

But for smokers, at least there’s a dedicated smoker’s lounge.

I believe this is the only terminal in the NAIA complex that has a bust dedicated to the person named after it: Ninoy Aquino. Though it’s kinda odd to place that bust there and not in the premises of the original NAIA Terminal which is now Terminal 1, in which premises he was assassinated.

I also like that the terminal has a good lounge area, not to mention areas that provide good views for those who have planespotting indicated as a leisure activity of sorts.

One beef I have with Terminal 3 though is the long walk from the aerobridge to the immigration counter. While there were walkalators in place, they are not functioning at the time. Something of an inconvience especially if you’re one of those travelers who don’t have much energy to walk anymore with whatever hand-carried luggage you have.

Overall though, I believe in the potential NAIA Terminal 3 in being an international airport we can all be proud of. After all, the airport is the first impression one gets of a city and of a country as a whole. I hope the airport authorities fix the things needed to be fixed (*cough* walkalators *cough*) and further improve the facilities to make it a competitive and world-class airport terminal that the Philippines deserves.

© The Urban Roamer


  • arianne

    Just a question. Do they have a lounging area where I can actually have a bed rest? I’m flying there and the lay over is around 6 hours. I was thinking of going to a HOTEL but my flight is at 5 am. Please advise. Thank you.

    • urban roamer – I have nothing much to say, I'm the quiet one...which may be why I wander, write, take photographs, and get into social media too much

      urban roamer

      I believe there is a lounging area there. just ask the personnel there at the airport


    I wonder if I can stay overnight at the terminal of NAIA 3 for my next early morning flight at 6am bound for Legaspi. My arrival from Saudi is 1100 am and my flight to legaspi is 600am the following day. I don’t want to stay in a hotel since this will be costly for me nor stay to my friend’s house because their place is far from the airport and very inconvenient for me because doing so means I have to leave their house very very early around 1 to 2 am just to be able to reach the terminal 2 hours before flight. Please advise.
    Thank you
    Passenger Vic


    Can I stay overnight at the NAIA 3 for my next early morning flight at 6am because my arrival from Saudi is 1100 am and I hope i can since almost all airports Ive been to in some countries allow passengers to wait inside. I was just kinda confused because a friend of mine told me in the Phils. they do not allow it, is that true? Weird naman yata terminals should be open 24hrs isn’t it, especially international airport pa man din
    Thank you, hoping for your reply

    • urban roamer – I have nothing much to say, I'm the quiet one...which may be why I wander, write, take photographs, and get into social media too much

      urban roamer

      not sure but there may be a shuttle service from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3. just ask around to confirm. thanks!

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