Talking about airports-A A +A
By Luci Lizares
Thursday, January 23, 2014
THE Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) rates among the Top 10 Worst Airports in the world. For us, who do our homework before a trip and a bit familiar with the goings on in the Naia, we are prepared for the expected and even the unexpected and usually things are not really that bad. Rule of thumb is always to be at the airport not less than three hours before your flight armed with all your necessary documents. Be sure that you are within the luggage requirements because there is no mercy if you go beyond the limit. Panic only comes when the traffic in the immigration is super heavy and you can see the ground hostesses of your airline edgy and twiddling their fingers frightful that you won’t make the flight.
Yes, Naia is substandard if we go by the standards of really big international airports. Take the Dubai International Airport, it is all of 3,500 hectares and is the 12th busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic. In a week, the airport caters to about 5,600 flights to over 200 world destinations operated by 100 airlines. Considering all these traffic, it has a direct employment of 58,000 people and supports indirectly 250,000 jobs in Dubai making the airport an important contributor to the economy.
Emirates is the largest operating airline in the Dubai airport, having a very vast fleet of more than 140 Boeing and Airbus aircrafts. This enables the airline to offer scheduled services to varied destinations in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, South America, North America and Europe. As we were Europe bound, Emirates was our choice of airline this time around because it offered the best suited flight arrangements and layovers, time of arrival, and most importantly price for our needs.
If we are talking about big airports, then you are totally overwhelmed. If your arrival is within the heavy traffic hours in the tarmac and you cannot avail of the tube, then you ride a shuttle bus, which I felt was a distance from my home to Ayala North Point. Then you have to walk or take the conveyor for another extensive distance, take the elevator to transport you to a train to your gate of departure. If you have a layover of an hour, chances are you will miss your flight. You will be safe if you have a two- to three-hour transit time.
Big airports are literally like little cities. They have malls that entice you to shop until you drop, some have all the facilities of a hotel for those who have more than half a day’s wait for connecting flights. Thank God, our connections to and coming from had only three hours wait. The three hours did not afford us any last minute shopping time. Big airports are tourist traps. They have shops galore along the way to your gate plus signages that inform you that at this point, it will take you 30 minutes or more to get to your designated exit. With all the last minute security checks and hand luggage inspection, you wouldn’t want to miss your flight.
The Dubai airport makes you feel quite at home because in every nook and corner, Tagalog seems to be spoken. Whether you are in the restroom, the coffee shops, the souvenir stores, our national language, Filipino, surrounds you. This is not only because there is an overflow of Filipino passengers but many employees are Filipinos. As of the 2009 statistics, there are 450,000 Filipinos living in Dubai making up 21.3 percent of the population.
While waiting for our entry to the departure area, there was likewise a Saudi Arabian group that was awaiting the announcement for their boarding. It is impolite to stare but I couldn’t help but have more than occasional glances in their direction. We are familiar with the thobe, the long, ankle length flowing robe- type garment. As this was summer time, they were in white or light colored cotton. The thobe covers the whole body whereas in this scene, some of the men’s chests were exposed and the cotton sheets that draped them were in different styles. The others opted for terrycloth as material. The ladies wore the fully hooded burqa that covered the hair and ears and with only their eyes showing. Some wore the hijab. My journalistic instincts coupled with my curiosity prompted me to politely ask the lady in the gate who they were. She said that they belonged to a particular tribe. I got my Lesson 101 in Saudi Arabian culture.
Our destination was Venice. The first leg of the trip was around eight hours. From Dubai to Venice is shorter, about less than four hours. This is the start of a cruising and praising trip and we have to thank our generous aunt, Tita Cami, for treating six of us nieces to this wonderful experience together. What a blessing! Thank you LORD!
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 23, 2014.