Like a Virgin…in Clark Airport

My blog is not really a travel blog but I just want to share my flying experience from Clark Airport (aka Diosdado Macapagal International Airport) since I frequent Hong Kong and I know there will be always first time flyers out there who need some information.

Warning, this post is text heavy. 

Pre-flight Jitters

I always fly from NAIA Terminal 3 via Cebu Pacific (thank God for those promo fares). Though most of the time I find it hard to chance upon a really low-priced fare that would compliment my schedule. I actually considered flying via Air Asia, Seair, etc even before because they seem to always have promo fares at the same time having more schedule options for me. But the thought of traveling all the way to Clark always stops me. I always lug with me my violet maleta and big backpack, and it wont be easy dragging them all the way to SM Megamall just to ride a bus (SM megamall is where DMIA-bound buses are stationed as far as I know).

But a friend of mine mentioned to me around February of this year that there are DMIA-bound buses stationed in Trinoma. This is where you can find the newly opened Trinoma Clark Airport Lounge. I thought then this would be very convenient for me. So after few days of “mock booking” last Feb, I finally found a good deal and booked a flight from Clark to HK.

All I had to do was wait.

Few weeks before my flight, my fiancé gave me a heads up that he learned from his acquaintances from a forum that Immigration Officers in Clark are stricter than those in NAIA. At first I just ignored it, but because of curiosity, I googled for some feedback of travelers in Clark.

Lo and behold! There were a lot of complaints! Now that didn’t help me, it instead got me worried and panicky.

To cut the story short, I got myself IDs, supporting papers etc. Anything I could think of to back me up in case the IOs would ask for something. I knew it was unnecessary but I just wanted to be prepared.

Few days before my flight, I went to Trinoma Clark Airport Lounge to reserve a bus ticket. But the lady there told me they don’t do reservations. You just have to go there on the day itself.

Trinoma Clark Airport Lounge

Trinoma Lounge

My flight schedule was 6:25PM. I learned that travel to Clark would take 2 hours and bus trip schedules in Trinoma are limited. The safest bus trip for me would be 12:30nn. Next trip would be 3PM, of course there’s a big possibility I would miss my flight if I took that.

Schedule as of May 14

Schedule as of May 14

By the way, always try to update yourself of  the bus schedules because last March or April, I inquired about the schedule and they only had three trips. But by May, they have another set of schedules. They revise, so inquire first. 

On the day of my flight, I went as early as past 10AM to Trinoma. Not that I am excited, but because I didn’t want to wait until 12nn to leave my place, since the summer heat in Manila was just killing me. And besides being early would mean having enough time to eat my lunch.

Welcome to the Trinoma Clark Airport Lounge

Welcome to the Trinoma Clark Airport Lounge

When I arrived at the lounge, nobody was there except for the security guard and the girl manning the counter. I told them I’ll be getting the 1230 trip. They asked me to write my name and contact number in their logbook. I asked if I could leave my luggage. Fortunately they have an area where you can leave your things. It’s just behind the counter actually. I was asked to come back at 12nn because buses leave on time.

Inside the lounge

Inside the lounge

After having lunch, I came back a little before 12. There were few more passengers waiting. Genesis bus arrived at around 12:15 to pick us up. Though I had to ask the guard if that was the 12:30 bus (obvious naman but I just wanted to be clear). I was expecting the guard or the girl in the counter would be announcing to us that we can ride or that the 12:30 bus arrived already. It’s just a minor thing but they could have announced so we wont be missing the bus or something,

Anyway, we left two minutes before 12:30 despite the low number of passengers (we were probably around 10-15 only).  Plus point for them for leaving on time (er, earlier technically). Bus was also clean and looked new. The travel was supposed to be 2 hours but it only took us 1.5 hours.

More than half empty bus

More than half empty bus

Exiting Trinoma by 12:29 noon

Exiting Trinoma by 12:29 noon

Now my problem is that my waiting time in Clark would be longer. What to do from 2PM til check-in time?

Diosdado Macapagal International Airport

I headed to the entrance of the departure hall but the airport staff at the door told me that I could not enter yet. I was asked to come back later and wait instead at the tented waiting area just across. Inconvenient? Maybe. But I understood because the airport was small. It looked more like a domestic airport rather than international.

Based on my online research, DMIA allows you to enter the departure hall 2 hours before flight.

Waiting area across the Departure Hall

Waiting area across the Departure Hall

I know I am allowed to enter at around 4PMish. But my impatience struck again. By around past 3PM I approached the airport staff once more, asked what time I could enter. Fortunately, he told me I could enter so I don’t have to wait outside (aww how thoughtful of you kuya).  Yey!

On the other hand, I should have stayed out. Geez. There were barely seats inside, despite few passengers. I was more comfortable seated at the waiting area.

Inside the Departure Hall

Inside the Departure Hall

So instead of standing and waiting, I just proceeded to the usual process. Paying the travel tax, filling up the departure card and going to the CR  (okay so the last one is not really part of the process, its just my SOP). What I like about the airport is that they have put up STEP 1, STEP 2, etc. signs.  A first time flyer would know where to proceed first. And that would be less stressful on their part as well it will save them time.

I wanted to tinker the Air Asia self check-in kiosks because I have nothing to do. But I already checked-in online. I might be charged for additional fees if I did (I read something about that somewhere in their site).Actually days before the flight, I was planning to try the self check-in kiosk instead of checking-in online. But because I don’t trust technology in our country (sa umpisa lang pwede but eventually they would be non-functional), I dropped the thought of the kiosk.  But hey, out of three, one was working pala. Lol.

Self check-in kiosks

Self check-in kiosks

After a period of waiting, finally! Air Asia check-in counters opened. I rushed to line immediately and I was second haha. I already checked-in online but I have to drop my luggage. Hassle. But at least I am guaranteed of a seat already.

Then off I went to pay the terminal fee, which was surprisingly cheap. After paying, I headed to the most dreaded part, the immigration. (Cue Jaws soundtrack) I sighed and breathed in and out to relax myself.  I reminded myself of my posture, to act confident and look financially capable (uhm, how do you put up a face like that by the way?). I reminded myself that I have been through this for years and this shouldn’t be new at all.

DMIA Immigration

Upon entering the immigration area, I kinda got lost and confused which counter I should be headed. There were several kasi. And there were no IOs manning each booth. I asked one security personnel where I should be lining up. Apparently the IOs were behind the counters watching TV,  watching the election results. So one lady IO stood up to deal with me. She was young actually. I was expecting an old lady (based on the comments I read online).

Natatakan ka na?

My thought bubble:  Me, eyes rolling. Big time.

She asked the usual questions I’ve been getting for years, though she’s the second IO who told me to ‘get married” na (because the reason I visit HK always is my fiancé).

Pakialam nyo ba.

She asked few more questions about my occupation, which I told her I was a production designer (that was my old job). Not much questions were asked actually, as I was expecting a lot. And contrary to the feedback and complaints I read online, no power tripping happened, nor papers and IDs were asked from me.

Waiting for Bore-ding

I directly went to Gate 2. I was first on the waiting area. It looked like a bus terminal. I had a lot of time to kill and I was getting pretty bored.

Bus Terminal

Bus Terminal

I got curious what was on the second floor. The other gates were there and it seems like the area was bigger. So off I went up.

Wow! It’s huge. And I’m alone. Solo ko!

2013-05-14 16.51.13

Okay so this photo didn’t do justice to the actual hall

It didn’t look like the bus terminal. It was like jumping to another airport terminal. So sa baba parang domestic, and above was like international airport.Lol.

Good thing there were TVs there and I killed time by watching the election updates. 

After some time I went down to check. I got worried that I might be left by the plane. Funny, because all passengers were waiting in the bus terminal (yuh I like to call it bus terninal). Tiisin pa nila ang maliit na lugar.

I went back up. And waited again until I heard the announcement for boarding.

Experiencing Air Asia

2013-05-14 17.50.27

Its my first time to ride Air Asia and I must say I like their interiors. It’s a little more classy than Cebu Pacific. Especially the seats, they’re more comfortable. I also liked the uniforms of the FA. They look credible and professional. And prettier. Haha.

Red-themed interiors

Red-themed interiors

Comfy seats

Comfy seats

FA in uniform

FA in red uniform

Though the flight wasn’t smooth. I didn’t like it. It was the first time I got dizzy in a flight. I think the pilot/captain wasn’t that good? Even when we landed in HKIA, the landing was rough. I hate that.

So far departing from Clark was an “okay” experience for me. In fact I think I like flying from Clark more than NAIA.

But I still have to share my arrival experience in Clark. Will be posting soon again.

—————-

My expenses:
Taxi Fare from UP Village to Trinoma- P100
Bus Fare- P200
Travel Tax- P1620
Terminal Fee- P450
Snacks- P85
Total expenses- P2,455

Trinoma Clark Airport Lounge is located outside, beside Mercury Drug, nearby the taxi stand. 

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