Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dumaguete Trip: NAIA 3 Check-in

My Cebu Pacific flight was scheduled at 7:10AM so I had to be at NAIA 3 just around 5AM. Good that my brods were going to the Tagaytay-Batangas areas a very early dawn departure, so I hitched along and had a breezing ride over C5 to terminal 3. Left the house at 4:28AM and was at the airport at 4:52AM!

Seeing that there was no big crowd (I was too early, I thought) I stayed at the curbside and puffed my first cigarette of the day. I noticed that there were two entrances in use, and that the queues were just about 3 or 4 passengers deep. It was almost a crowd to me, but not quite yet, really. As I craned my neck for a clearer view of the entrance crowd, a uniformed man passed where I was standing, herding some four or five other passengers to a 3rd entrance. I thought that was a nice move – opening all entrances for the passengers’ convenience. And I followed that group. Easy entrance.

The check-in hall is spacious and devoid of people at this time. I heard sometime ago though that this area gets crowded early on for the 3AM, 4AM and 5AM flights. Oh well, I was fortunate having chosen a 7AM flight to Dumaguete – as if there’s anything earlier hehe!

NAIA 3 check-in counters are the island type like those at Don Muang and many other airports in the world. And hey, if you did not bring a printout of that e-ticket, there are express ticket counters by the front ends of two islands – one for Cebu Pacific and another for PAL Express. So there’s no more running around and rushing to the airlines’ ticket offices esp. in a huge airport like this. But you’ll have to line up, so still better not to ever forget your tickets.

Check-in was a breeze. I went to the “no baggage” check-in counter manned by a lady who seemed to be new (or perhaps even a trainee) at this kind of work. But, with some guidance from a more senior staff, she finally pulled out my boarding pass with a conscious effort to reiterate my flight details encircling the name, flight number and gate on my boarding pass. Hmm, that was quite mechanical and “un-alive”, I thought! But that happens to neophytes, right? She was obviously nervous to put on a genuine smile – I just know that feeling! In due time, she’ll get the hang of that job and later be too good at it where she would do it faster and reiterate the flight details without looking at passengers and just toss the boarding pass to the top of the counter. That’s how most of them do it, right?! Well, regardless of her asking the more senior staff what to press next, that was still quick for me! Maybe am just comparing her to the “standards” that I have experienced on many years of traveling.

By the way highway hehe, Cebu Pacific’s style at this area is to let passengers follow a single zigzagging line where they spill unto the many check-in counters as those become available. Any counter can check you to any flight. Airliners call this “common check-in”. But the zigzagging line, I don’t like. It’s very unfriendly to passengers who have to tow a longer line and a longer walk by following the damn zigzag. Yes, it’s easier that way for the airline staff the way it becomes easy for tellers at BDO or Citibank. But this is airline check-in where most passengers would be lugging heavy things along. Why keep them walking a zigzag line? Shouldn’t a service company like 5J think of the passenger first? Oh well, I should stop here since I get paid for re-engineering things hehe! If I say anything more, I’d be offering my job for free, golly gee!

Oh, one last note. The end of each island (nearer the entrance) are where the controllers are stationed. Those are the “load controllers” and/or “traffic controllers” or whatever they call those now. The PCs of those guys are naturally by the wall so that their backs are to the passengers who can all see their computer monitors. Not that any passengers could read what’s on their screens as they work, and, not that it will be a security threat or something… BUT, it would appall most passengers to see these folks playing computer games on their PCs while their colleagues are sweating it out, right? Its very unpro, I must exclaim! Hmm, there I go, working again by analyzing things! I should nothing more! And hey, I know what game the load controller was playing since that’s one of my favorites and it’s loaded both on my home PC and my notebook!

Bottom-line… my check-in was rather a breeze because: I arrived early, my flight was 7AM (not 4 nor 5 nor 6), I had no checked baggage and okay I must admit, NAIA 3 is big!

For a chronology of stories on this trip, click the following article numbers:
01   02   03   04   05   06   07   08   09   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18
19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35


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