Tips on Picking Up Relatives from the Airport (NAIA)

Naia Terminal 3

Photo from Wikipedia

Going to and from the airport (NAIA) has unfortunately been a trial of frustration most Filipinos for as long as I can remember. Not only do we have to contend with the traffic, we also have to deal with long lines, ridiculous rules and guidelines, even more ridiculous fees, and praying that we won’t catch the eye of any unscrupulous airport employee who might want to “inspect” us (but who actually just wants a payoff).


Anyway, a few days ago, I was asked to pick someone up from the airport. Taking a random cab home from the airport has gained such a bad reputation that no one I know would even consider it, and just in case getting picked up at the airport by a friend or relative was not possible, we always advise people to just take a legitimate airport service instead, scheduled in advance. One company I used before was Nissan Rent A Car, just in case any one is curious. Everything was very professional – they have an office, and the branches servicing the airport can be reached 24 hours a day. It’s slightly more expensive than getting a random cab, but I would rather pay a bit extra to be safer – less chance of getting mugged or “taken for a ride” or being contracted to pay a very high fare (ma-kontrata). Anyway, if you are with other people, you can always split the fare.


Before I continue, you should know that I hate paying for parking. I remember that many years ago, parking used to be free! I feel like I am already patronizing the establishment, the least they could do is provide free parking, you know? This is why I prefer going to S&R, Puregold, and other places that provide free parking.

Usually, the flights of people we pick up from the airport arrive at night. In the old days of NAIA 1, we usually parked and waited at that 24-hour convenience store near Park N Fly, where I usually buy a bottle of iced tea or soy milk. We stay there and wait for our relative to call our cellphone and tell us that they are ready (done with immigration, customs, etc…). But they are now limiting parking there to only 15 minutes.

Sometimes, we used to park in nearby restaurants with free parking (McDonald’s, KFC, Jollibee, Dunkin Donuts, etc…), and maybe just order a cup of coffee /sundae or something. It is very difficult to find any place near the airport with free parking now, so we have settled for any of these restaurants that is within our route to the airport. But right now, even finding any of these places near the airport with enough parking slots is difficult, and with the changes in traffic flow, have become too much out of the way (some roads/ U-turn slots have been closed off or have become one way, forcing cars to take a very long way back).

About the only places sort of near the airport that provide free parking are the casinos – Solaire and City of Dreams. Resorts World has a parking fee of P45, I think. They are open 24 hours, 7 days a week! If you have time to spare and spend a few hours at the casino while waiting for the call, it’s a great place to wait (I wrote about some advantages in another post). You might even win some money! Solaire and City of Dreams work well if you are picking someone up from Terminal 1 or 2, but it’s a bit out of the way if you are picking someone up from Terminal 3. Resorts World is the place to go if you are picking up someone from Terminal 3.


But I was alone, in a hurry and didn’t have time to go to the casino, and this was around lunch time, too. I just wanted to pick up my relative at Terminal 3 and go because I had other appointments afterwards. I timed my arrival so that I would be at the airport about 30 minutes after the flight landed. Unfortunately, baggage claim took longer than expected, and my relative wasn’t out yet. I already circled twice and tried to drive as slow as I could. Where else could I go? I didn’t want to park at Resorts World because I expected my relative to be out in about 10 minutes. Sayang naman ang parking – by the time I went in to the parking building and parked the car, it would be time to leave!

So I looked for a little out of the way street just past Resorts World and tried to stay there for a few minutes. A truck was parked in front of me, so I thought it was fine. Suddenly some security guy wearing a long-sleeved barong was knocking on my window and demanding to get my license! Illegal parking daw. I said I was sorry and told him I was leaving, but he wouldn’t let me leave! He kept on insisting on getting my license, deputized daw siya mag-ticket. He could have just asked me to leave and I would have left. Anyway, suddenly my phone rang and I begged him to just give me a warning and let me go because I had to pick up my relative. Fortunately, he let me go, but he said, “Wag ka ng bumalik dito, pag nakita kita ulit dito, malilintikan ka.” I was shocked at his language. What is wrong with these people? There was no cause for such language. Do they screen applicants and only hire assholes?

Whatever happened to courteous officers who just knock and say “Pasensiya po ma’am, pero bawal po mag park dito”? Bakit mga police/security ngayon, ticket agad ang nasa utak? At bakit ganyan siya magsalita?


So now we all know – there is nowhere to stay if you are picking someone up from Terminal 3 just in case they get delayed coming out of the airport. You can’t stay at nearby side streets to wait. I didn’t know this was such a big deal – enough to get me ticketed. After this experience, I will make sure that I am late next time when picking someone up from Terminal 3, unless I plan on going to the casino. I won’t be leaving the house until the person I am picking up calls/texts and tells me that they have landed. That should give enough time to do all the airport procedures, and they’ll be ready and waiting when I arrive. I don’t want to be late, but what am I going to do if I’m too early? Waste gas circling 10 times? NAIA – the only airport when being too early to pick someone up is a problem!

Sure, I could always park at the airport parking… but P50 for just a few minutes’ parking time? I hate the thought of it! Also, the open parking area looked full and I doubt that I would find any available parking slots.

I am racking my brain and can’t think of any place along South Super Highway (from Quirino to Nichols) where I can stay to wait. Any suggestions?


There’s also another problem – what if the person you are picking up lives abroad? They won’t have a local SIM and won’t be able to call you.

Don’t rely on the free airport wifi. Once, we thought we could just communicate via Viber, but that was a big failure. Viber couldn’t connect online using the free airport wifi. So now, if someone is going to visit our relative who lives abroad, and we know the relative is coming to the Philippines in a few months, we send them a new Philippine SIM card (unused). It’s just P40.00. When they land in Manila, they just open the SIM pack and use the new SIM. New SIMs usually have a few free texts and free minutes good for 1-2 days. We just add some prepaid load after they arrive, and register to an appropriate promo, and they can use the SIM while they are in the Philippines.

If that’s not possible, we ask them to exchange even just $20 at the airport currency exchange counter, and buy a SIM card. There is usually someone at the airport arrival area selling or giving away SIM cards. It’s just easier than hoping you find each other – and you can also be updated if there are any delays. Sometimes, they ask us to bring them some water because they are thirsty (not used to the heat in the Philippines).

If this is too complicated (relative is too old or totally doesn’t speak English / Tagalog), you have no choice but to drop someone off at the airport arrival area to wait for them while you park somewhere and wait (or keep circling).

ONE THING YOU MUST ALWAYS DO IS TO AGREE BEFOREHAND ON WHERE TO MEET. For Terminal 3, they have numbered Bays at the arrival area. For example, you can agree to meet at Bay 5. Be specific, like, Bay 5 – stand in front of the pillar with the number “5” painted on it. Some people can misinterpret and stand behind the Bay 5 pillar… *shake my head*


Parking your car overnight is sort of a last resort for me. If you have no choice, and no one is available to pick you up at the airport, you might want to consider it. It used to be just P50/day, which made it a really good choice (only P500 for 10 days), but not anymore. They have raised their rates to P300/overnight parking now (P3,000 for 10 days!).

If you will be parking your car for more than a few days, I suggest considering getting an airport taxi instead. For the airport taxi, the rate for Terminal 3 to Quezon City Welcome Rotonda area was around P700+. Just compute how much your overnight parking total is going to be and compare it to the airport taxi estimate and decide which one makes more sense.

Going to the airport is easier because you can just get a regular taxi, Uber or use GrabCar / GrabTaxi.

I hope these tips help someone  Please feel free to share if you have any suggestions on how to make picking people up from the airport easier!

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The Barat Queen

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2 thoughts on “Tips on Picking Up Relatives from the Airport (NAIA)

  1. Brenda

    Thanks for the information. I would like to ask where is the best waiting area in NAIA 1 since il picking up my friend at night. If he cant call me,where is the best place for me to wait so I can see him and he can see me too?thanks in advance.

    1. Barat Queen Post author

      Hi Brenda,

      It’s been a long time since I’ve picked someone up from NAIA Terminal 1. If memory serves, there is a pick-up area with letters. When the passenger comes out of the main door of the airport building, tell them to cross the “road” to where most of the people are going. This will lead to ramps that go down to the right or to the left (don’t worry, they all lead to the same place).

      The ramps lead down where there is a crowded waiting area. There are signs with the letters of the alphabet (A,B,C, etc…) In the old days before cellphones, passengers stand there under the letter of their surname. You can plan ahead with your friend under which letter to meet. If I remember correctly, when you drive to the airport NAIA Terminal 1, and follow the “Arrival” signs, it will lead your car to pass by this area.

      There is also a parking lot beside that place – alternatively, you can park there and walk to the meeting place; or you can go upstairs near the main door of Terminal 1 and wait there for your friend. I am just not sure if airport security will allow you to stay there for a long time. To reach the parking lot, just keep your eyes peeled for the parking lot sign right after you finish going through the airport car entrance security guard area.

      If your friend is coming from a colder country, please bring a bottle of cold water to drink – it is almost always the first thing everyone asks for after arriving in Manila 🙂


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