Visiting the Philippines
Whether you’re traveling to the Philippines or you just wish to fly within this country with thousands of islands, what airlines provide the best service? That depends, of course, on what is most important to you—variety of destinations available, comfort, on-time departure and arrival times, or other hallmarks of quality service.
Philippines Airlines (PAL) is a flag-carrier airline, meaning it’s one of the airlines preferred or promoted by the government. It offers a wide variety of around 30 international destination cities, and you’ll also find that PAL flies domestically from Laoag on Ilocos Nortes all the way down to Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. Its fleet includes a couple of Boeing 777-300ERs, which are known to be among the world’s biggest twin-engine jetliners traveling long range. There are several 747s, and then for intra-island travel you’ll find a variety of Airbus carriers. Without any challenge to date to its size and business growth, it codeshares with several other airlines.
Whether you are flying in from Honolulu, Melbourne, Beijing, or any of the other international connections, you’ll find that the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) offers four world-class terminals and plenty of service options for the 27 million passengers that travel through its gates each year. As one of the world’s top 50 busiest airports, Terminal 4 is limited to local flights, and the other terminals service a mixture of international and domestic airlines. You’ll find that it’s located conveniently close to Manila’s business district. You can get to and from the airport utilising taxicabs, hotel drivers, and hired chauffeurs, and if you drive your own vehicle the parking is plentiful.
Cebu Pacific Air’s website cheerfully tells us “It’s time everyone flies!” In keeping with that sentiment, Cebu offers transportation to at least 13 destinations outside of the Philippines and a whole list of cities within the islands themselves. This airline also is based at NAIA, but it also has hubs in four other large cities. It offers a fleet of Airbuses to take you where you need to go, with the fleet’s age averaging 3.2 years. It flies about 10 million people per year, less than half of PAL, but it prides itself on Wikipedia listing only two accidents over its 24-year history. Check out Cebu’s website to find out about their LiteFare and seasonal promotions.
If you’ve never thought about the Philippines beyond the capital city of Manila, try visiting Cebu, located on the Visayan Islands. The Mactan-Cebu International Airport is located in Lapu-Lapu City on Mactan Island, in Metro Cebu, the oldest city in the Philippines. Its flights reach out to a wide selection of international destinations all over the world, with over 15,000 incoming and outgoing flights per year. It’s also a vital cargo plane hub. For the romantic at heart, Cebu is fast becoming a popular destination wedding spot, and its nickname is the Queen City of the South.
Airphil Express is another airline based out of Metro Manila, in Pasay City, and it’s a sister airline of PAL. However, people love it for its low-cost flights, and it was actually created by PAL as a way to cut into Cebu Pacific’s low-budget flights. Airphil is also known for its AdvenTours, ways to visit tourist spots within the islands at a low flight cost so you can save your money for your vacation fun. Some flights are scheduled for Airbus travel, and most of them take place on one of the Canadian Bombardier Dash turboprops. Students receive a 20 percent discount!
Destination: Davao City
Why not check out Davao City, the largest metro area in the Mindanao island group? The Francisco Bangoy International Airport really only services one international destination—Singapore—and it has but one runway. Meanwhile, the metropolitan area, a place tinged with a Spanish influence from centuries ago, boasts over a million people and it’s also known to be a very clean city. The airport itself passes about two million people through its portals, and it’s Cebu Pacific’s third hub. Originally constructed back in the 1940s, its remodeling was completed in 2003. Davao is also the home of Mt. Apo, the tallest mountain in the country. If you’re looking for a place in the Philippines where cultures have become enmeshed and the hills are lush with greenery and fruit orchards, this is your destination.
Zest Airways began as Asian Spirit in 1995. It operates a fleet of only about 15 planes, a few Airbuses and some Chinese turboprops. This airline’s website is as small and cozy as its fleet, with pages that introduce you to the aviators and a discussion of all aspects of the flight process. Its main hubs are at the NAIA and also at the Kalibo International Airport in Kalibo, in the Aklan province, in Panay.
Traveling in the Philippines
No matter where you travel in the Philippines, prepare to dress for warm weather! Sixty percent of the roads travel through small wards or districts, and you can expect a variety of casual transportation such as a jeepney, which is an auto converted from a U.S. military jeep, or a tricycle. As you travel, keep in mind that the local shopkeepers expect you to haggle with them as you make some local purchases. Wherever you go, you are certain to find colorful foliage and plenty of culture. The Philippines has so much to offer, fly in and find out what’s waiting for you
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