Monday, January 19, 2009

New Iloilo Airport Experience

Passed by this facility twice in a week’s time and I can say for now, part of me likes it and another part of me don’t! Well, if looks were to be my basis, its beautiful. That is, compared to the old airport building over at Manduriao, ah this one is fantastically fantastic! But it is not in Iloilo City anymore. This beautiful airport sits between the towns of Sta. Barbara and Cabatuan. So going to or coming from it is quite a ‘travel’ in itself! But what can you and I do, it is already there, so we’ll have to live with it from now on, until the authorities decide to make another one at who knows where hehe! Anyway, come explore the airport with me, at least those that I have seen anyway!

Arrival. I jetted into this Iloilo Airport via Philippine Airlines’ early morning flight using no less than one of its newer airbuses. So at 6:08AM we were fortunate to use the aerobridge (also many times called the airtube or other names) for disembarkation. Curiously though, from the ‘tube’ we were led going up the inclining floor towards what looked to me as the departure area’s waiting lounges (3rd level). And before hitting the glass doors, we were asked to veer left via the inclined floor again towards 2nd floor – as if we were going to board a departing craft. Then we turned right and that was the arrival hallway. An escalator going to ground level and there we were amidst the conveyor belts that started revealing people’s checked baggage for the grabbing. Yeah, luggage carts are free too. It feels and looks like arriving at NAIA 3, or Davao Airport. Quite orderly actually.

But I was in transit! Yeah, I was just in that airport to connect to my 9AM flight to Cebu on Cebu Pacific. I asked about this immediately upon emerging from the aircraft. And without any hint of regret, the staff told me I have to follow the full arrival procedures then go out of the arrivals lobby, skirt out unto the departure lobby to be able to check-in for my connecting flight. How absurdly cruel, right? Then again, if I measure the total length of everything to be walked, its just probably a kilometer or less. Unlike what you will experience for the same situation at NAIA 3. So, okay, I ‘arrived’.

Since, even if I was a transit passenger, I also had to get out of the airport’s arrival lobby to be able to reach the departure lobby, you guessed it… I instead went around the outside vicinity of this airport for a cursory look, since I was already there. Happy so far! I noticed that people waiting to meet their arriving passengers were huddled by a fence-like barricade just in front of the arrival lobby. This is at some kind of foyer (part of the building’s design) that would have otherwise been a loading area for passengers to get into their vehicles. Hmm, a remnant of the olden ways still prevails even at this new airport. Why? Because as we all know, at NAIA 3, well-wishers, drivers and the likes enter the building to a spacious lobby with seats to wait for their arriving passengers. Oh remember Davao Airport’s arrival area? Iloilo is very much like that. Though we already know that well-wishers in Davao now wait further out at make-shift tents by the parking area, right?! That, after someone bombed the original ‘waiting’ barricade sometime ago, remember? So, maybe well-wishers in Iloilo will also be asked to move further out into the spacious parking area if and when… ah simba ko! Why in the first place don’t they build airports with big arrival lobbies like NAIA 3 since the Filipino Culture requires it so?!

Anyway, this was morning and I thought I’d pop into some sar-sari store or turo-turo for a sip of batchoy. Ack! None! Yes none anymore. The whole vicinity of the airport and its parking areas are devoid of vendors. The nearest are little shacks in what looks like a squatters’ area past the guard house in the middle of the highway leading to the airport. That’s good I think, so that the place does not become like a palengke as in the old one. But bad for the pocket hehe. We now are forced to eat at the expensive shops inside the airport. I still say that is better if only for an airport to be of international standards.

But all was not lost for the dear tummy and tongue salivating for batchoy hehe. Just before entering the airport's departure lobby, there is a separate little structure by the side of the driveway. And its transparent glass walls are clearly labeled “BAYANI Café and Resto”! Yeheeey! Not only that. Over at the edge of the parking lot (near to Bayani) is another little building named “PANAY ISLANDS PARKING SPECIALIST, INC.” that would already tell us what it is for, right?! So you think… hehe listen to this… under those big letterings of the ‘parking specialist inc’ in smaller fonts declares “Coffee Shop & Snack Bar”! Double yeheeey! Ah but I went to Bayani as it is nearer the guard who ceremoniously checks your documents entering the departure lobby.

Hey, even if I did not much adore their batchoy, this clean and air-conditioned café (because its still new?) even has speakers where you can hear the public address announcements from inside the terminal building. There is also that digital signage displaying flight departures and arrivals. Oh yes, I can’t remember the big difference but anything in this ‘resto’ is much more expensive than you can get from anywhere in the city. All such places at airports are expensive anyway, right?! At least, I only had to step out of the door to be able to light a cigarette hehe. Btw, behind this café and under the same roof are the public comfort rooms of the area. Also (still) clean, probably because it was still early morning or probably because the airport is new or probably too its going to remain that way forever. Who knows?!

Departure. After the batchoy breakfast, I decided I better go inside the terminal building as outside was rather windy cold. It was just 6:44AM. I did not expect to be checked-in yet as the official departure time of my Cebu Pacific flight to Cebu was 9:05AM, so I’d have to wait until 7:05AM for that. But I thought I’d bum around and see the passenger check-in area/s. Well, I did, and the first thing I observed was that the place seems too small. I mean the space from check-in counters to what might be the end of a passenger queue (the wall) was rather too short. Yeah, am almost sure that at the height of any airline’s check-in operations, the lines would curve out of bounds on what should rather be a straight orderly queue fronting their counters.

Standing around, trying to look like I was a hapless weary first-time passenger hehe, I stood near the escalators and directly in front of the Cebu Pacific counters already manned but not yet open for check-in for my flight to Cebu. By purpose, I acted as if looking around and constantly glanced at their check-in counters purposely looking at the staff in the eye. They got the message hehe, they called me to ask what flight I was waiting for and reluctantly checked me in for my 9:05AM flight at exactly 6:47AM! Oh ha?! and up to the pre-departure area I went hehe!

Up? Yes, up! The pre-departure area and waiting lounges are at the 3rd level of the building. So from the check-in counters on ground level, you take two flights of escalators going there. The first segment bring you to arrival area concourse and airline offices while the next segment finally lands you at departure level. Pasalubong shops, coffee shops abound at the pre-departure area, before you approach the counter to pay your P30 terminal fee. Again, its like being at the Davao airport. But still full from my batchoy breakfast, I just paid my terminal fee and went into that final x-ray security check, then sat or roamed around the waiting lounges before heading to Gate 3 for my flight that departs in roughly more than two hours more!

What a wait! There are flat screen TVs at the departure lounge. And thankfully, the one in front of me was on CNN and not some re-runs of violent or boring Filipino dramas. And CNN was in the midst of a very serious coverage of a flight that went diving into the Hudson River just hours ago. Hahaha, I could see some passengers squirming or making signs of the cross as they watched the footage. I thought you would too, right? Imagine, you anxiously sit to wait for your flight to be boarded and you are watching a live coverage of an airplane floating on a river with passengers being plucked out of it in cold darkness of wintery waters. Wouldn’t you even cringe at that?! Ahh hehehe, whatta news! A woman seated near me commented that at least they landed on water. AND the naughtily wicked me replied "at least there is water there, in this new airport and runway, its very far from any big river or the sea". Hahaha, and they started talking why the new airport was built in this area! Duuuuu!

Anyway, at about 8:41AM, we were called for boarding. So I just said, “Sinulog, here I come… again” hehehe!

1 comment :

  1. hi! may wifi ba sa bayani restaurant?