Saturday, June 30, 2012

Philippines - a glimpse of Clark (DMIA) Airport

Since the travel ban to Yemen has been lifted, I am now enjoying my monthly vacation in my home. I feel great and refresh, unlike my previous vacations where I need to wander outside Philippines.

Being able to spend my vacation at home, I have decided to blog about the Philippines. I believe that our experience in Clark Airport can provide some important details to those who are planning to book their flight from here.

In this regard, as my way of supporting my daughter's new online shop, I accompanied my wife to Bangkok last weekend to purchase ladies clothing apparel. The cheapest plane tickets available back then were offered by Tiger Airways or SEAIR from Clark.

That was the first time that my wife and I would fly from Clark Airport or DMIA. We have flown many times before from NAIA Terminals 1, 2 and 3 hence, we were both apprehensive since we were not familiar on how things were going on at Clark Airport not to mention the travel time. Moreover, we have read on the net that numerous passengers are being offloaded at Clark daily. Nevertheless, we were successful in our travel to Bangkok using the said airport.

I have made this post to give an insight to other travelers who are planning to fly from Clark airport using a private vehicle.

To make it simpler, the following is the breakdown of our expenses:

* 45 + 173 = 218 pesos toll fare from Manila to Dau (exit at SCTEX)
* 16 liters unleaded gas at roughly 49 pesos per liter = 784 pesos for round trip
* 90 pesos per 24 hours parking fee (park and fly) = 200 pesos for less than 36 hours.
* 1620 pesos for travel tax per passenger
* 500 pesos for terminal fee + 100 pesos security fee per passenger
* 218 pesos toll fare from Dau to Manila

At the end of NLEX, we exited at SCTEX. Before approaching the tollgate of SCTEX, we turned right at Mc Arthur Highway exit and traveled until the town proper of Mabalacat. At the cross road of Mabalacat and NLEX entry, we turned left and entered Clark gate. From here, we traveled 7 km more to reach Clark airport. Inside Clark, the roads are free from traffic but you need to stay alert and follow the road signs directing you to DMIA. It took us around 1 hour from SM North to DMIA; my odometer clocked a distance of around 100 km, one-way.

We availed the Park and Fly facility of the airport. It was simply an open parking space. Upon entering the parking area, a parking coupon would be issued to you. Take extra care of the coupon since they will charge you 500 pesos if you lose it, not to mention the hassle of proving that you are the owner of the vehicle. In addition, you can use the parking coupon as proof that you'll come back in case the immigration officer will try to offload you. I gave 20 pesos tip to the security staff for providing me vital info regarding the Park and Fly procedure and the assurance that the parking area is well guarded for 24 hours. Upon returning, we found our car in good condition. My family car's 4 wheels and side mirrors were still intact, lol. Nothing missing and no additional scratches just misty windshield due to rain. There was no fuzz in leaving the car park as well. They simply asked and logged my ID (license) after I surrendered the coupon and paid the 3 days parking fee; no need to show any car documents. Actually, I paid 200 pesos only since our car haven't completed 36 hours inside the parking area.

waiting area in front of gate 2
the entire food court

the lonely escalator at departure area
Clark is definitely a small airport. It has two departure walk-in gates (1 & 2) at the ground floor while there are three passenger tubes (3, 4 & 5) at the 2nd floor departure level. The smoking room Duty Free and VIP room are also located at the second floor.

The check-in area is dated, hot and small. You'd find both the travel tax and terminal fee counters within this area. If my recollection serves me right, there are only 14 check-in counters. The immigration procedure was a breeze maybe because of our dirty and worn-out passports. However, I noticed that several passengers were being escorted by immigration officers toward departure gate during final call.

Ground floor boarding or waiting area is usually crowded unlike on second floor. There is a small food court at the ground floor where the temperature is quite comfortable. I can't imagine how you'd make yourself comfortable in case your flight will be delayed. It seems that two flights can easily fill the entire ground floor waiting area for (gates 1 & 2). Nonetheless, the airport staffs are all nice and approachable.

Since we were flying by budget airline, we walked from departure gate no 1 up to the tarmac, about a hundred meters. The wife was hysterical because at past 3PM, the temperature was still hovering at more than 30 degC and her umbrella was inside our checked-in luggage. I switched my internal body mode into deaf mode. Nevertheless, our flight to Bangkok was smooth except for one minor observation. We were surprised to note that SEAIR flight stewardess uniforms were similar to majorette attire. They wear light blue fitting blouse and pleated dark blue miniskirt with black legging. Shoulders were adorned by stars. The plane wasn't full.

There was nothing special when we came back after 3 days at 11:30PM. We were glad that an airport shuttle bus was used to bring us to the arrival gate upon disembarkation. The arrival procedure was also smooth and effortless. Forget about Duty Free. We saw a Philtranco counter at the arrival area and several hotel service vehicles in queue outside the arrival exit gate.

It is worth  mentioning that inside Clark area, most of the roads are well lighted during night time. We were traveling alone in the middle of the night but we felt secured due to 24 hours security inside Clark. We left Clark from Mabalacat gate then drove directly to NLEX. Needless to say, I need to stay fully awake and alert for the whole duration of our travel back to our home. Some parts of NLEX were pitch black thus I need to switch my headlights into high beam from time to time. More so, I need to overtake countless of poorly lit trucks. We had a few minutes of stop-over at one of the gas stations inside NLEX to buy water; I noticed some military personnel on stand-by at the station. Anyhow, wife and I arrived safely in our house and due to shopping and driving fatigue I immediately fell into comatose-like sleep.

Clark airport has big potential to become one of Philippines premier international airports as long as plane tickets remain competitive and the safety and comfort of passengers coming from other places or provinces is assured. In our case, we were able to avail a reasonably priced ticket for MLA-BKK-MLA flight and we found it cheaper and more comfortable to use our own vehicle instead of going to Clark by public transport. In addition, my actual gasoline expense was even cheaper when compared with NAIA's 3 terminals airport taxi where a single trip to our home can easily fetch a thousand pesos. During rush hours, I believe travel time  from Clark airport to our home is almost the same when I come home from NAIA terminal 1 airport.

Even so, Clark airport needs to be upgraded and expanded in case they will add more flights. According to the web, Clark runway conforms to international standard and can even accommodate Airbus A380 and the space shuttle.

It is in this regard that my wife and I are willing to fly from Clark airport in our next out of the country journey as long as the entire flight costs is more economical compared with NAIA terminals flights.

Part Two (03 Nov 2012)

Wife and I left for Bangkok from Clark airport on 31 Oct to replenish our daughter's online shop inventory.

This time, we traveled up to the tip of NLEX and exited at Sta. Ines. At Mabalacat town intersection, we simply crossed the road until we reached Clark gate.

We were elated to learn that the terminal fee was reduced to 350 pesos plus 100 pesos for security fee. Hence, each of us paid 450 pesos.

We availed again of Clark's Park and Fly facility; no need tipping the guard. It seems there is a dedicated open parking area for this purpose unlike before where all cars were using a common parking area. We noticed that some cars were even covered. Obviously left there by their owners for longer period. I just hope that their car covers would still be there when they come back.

Coming back from Bangkok, as usual, we were transported back from the plane to the airport by big buses. There were only 2 immigration staff attending to all Filipino passport holders thus it took us more than 30 minutes in queue.

We immediately proceeded to Park N Fly area. I paid 300 pesos for more than 3 days parking. As usual, my ID (license) was asked by the parking staff for recording purposes. Perhaps due to fatigue it took us 30 minutes of driving inside Clark complex before we were able to locate Mabalacat gate. My wife who was born and raised in the city was a bit nervous since some areas inside Clark were creepy and uninhabited. More so, we sometimes reached some dead end and most of the time we were driving alone at 12 midnight. I was thinking that maybe we have an unseen passenger in our car and when I told this to my wife she went ballistic. I decided to keep quiet since an angry wife was more frightening than a "creepy white lady," lol. Once we were able to locate Mabalacat gate, the mood changed from eerie and silence into festive. It was a breeze driving through NLEX but be aware though that many poorly lit trucks were traversing NLEX during night time.

We arrived at home at past 1 am and I immediately fell into deep sleep after a relaxing hot shower while wife and daughter spent time rummaging through all those ladies apparel we bought for our online shop.

Part Three (22 Feb 2013)

Additional shots at DMIA. We are back in Bangkok for business trip

Open area parking and Park n Fly Entrance

Inside the Parking and Park N Fly - this place is safe and guarded 24 hours

Entrance to International Departure gate

Before reaching the departure gate, you would pass along the domestic departure gate while the arrival gate is located behind or after the international departure gate. Anyhow, the airport is small and you won't get confuse or lost, trust me.

After 3 nights in Bangkok, we were back in Philippines. We arrived at past 1 AM at Clark Airport. To my surprise, I was asked to pay for full 4 days of parking. Before, we used to pay 90 pesos per day plus number of hours in excess of one day. But now, even if our car didn't stay for full 4 days, I was billed 360 pesos.

Since we arrived at unholy hour, I decided not to exit at Mabalacat Gate; I am sure that we would be traveling alone in mostly dark roads before we reach Mabalacat Gate. I followed the lighted main road going to Main gate (SCTEX) and because of my unfamiliarity inside Clark I made a mistake by staying at the middle of the road even if I need to turn left at the intersection. The security immediately stopped and apprehended me after I made a left-turn. Actually, it was dark and I didn't see him but after turning left he turned on his flashlight and asked me to stop and surrender my license. I told him that I was lost and I need to travel back to Manila. He threatened to confiscate my license and issue a ticket for "obstruction;" I begged him to be considerate since I am not familiar in that area and there wasn't any car behind me at the intersection. I even added that it would be very difficult for me to return back the following day to redeem my license. Upon seeing on my license that I came from Rizal province he told me that he would radio his superior and blah, blah. I knew that he was simply buying some time expecting me to initiate "to bribe" him but I stood my ground and even ready to accept the ticket. Eventually, he returned my license and showed me the direction towards SCTEX. I paid 4 pesos from Clark South Interchange (SCTEX) to NLEX. Shortly thereafter, we were cruising inside NLEX.

It was raining cats and dogs at that time and my windshield wiper was running continuously. Considering that many poorly lit trucks were traveling along NLEX during night time we opted to have a coffee break at the first gas station along NLEX. When the rain has subsided and I got my caffeine shots, we continued our journey back to Manila.

After more than an hour, we exit at Mindanao Avenue, we arrived at McDonald's, near Trinoma Mall and spent time there until 5 AM. We can't afford to bother our kids and neighbors at past 3 AM; our neighbors' dogs would be definitely excited to welcome us, lol. The wife bought breakfast take-outs for our kids.

Just to add, you don't need to leave your car key to the security staff. I never left my car key whenever I avail Park n Fly at DMIA. I always bring it with me.

Part Four (21 April 2013)

On our recent family trip to Hong Kong/Macau/Shenzhen, we booked our tickets again by Tiger Airways (SEAIR) via Clark Airport.

This is how far you need to walk before boarding the plane.

Indian nationals being escorted and sent back to Singapore

Fortunately, several deportees were asked to transfer to a smaller van thus we were able to use the Airport Bus or due to summer temperature they decided to allow the passengers to use the bus. Either way, it was a welcome relief especially to my wife.

We left our family car for 5 nights at Clark Park N Fly. Upon returning and after a grueling 45 minutes at the immigration area, I asked my family to wait at the arrival gate while I fetched our car from the parking area. I paid 450 pesos for 5 nights and made a U-Turn back to departure/arrival area where my family was waiting; there was no need for them to walk up to the parking area anymore.

We followed the direction towards Main Gate until we reached the Clark South Interchange going to SCTEx. I paid 4 pesos tollway fee. In no time at all we were cruising along NLEX.

09 June 2013

We went back to Hong Kong for our online shop. Going to Clark Airport we passed at North Clark via SCTEx and paid 12 pesos. However, while going back to Manila this morning I decided to pass at South Clark Interchange via SCTEx and paid 4 pesos. I prefer the South Clark Interchange since it is nearer to airport and cheaper.

From 16:00 Hour 06 June to 13:00 Hour 09 June, I paid 300 pesos for park N Fly.

As usual, all of us fell in line at 3 immigration counters. You are lucky if you can finish the immigration procedure within 30 minutes.

09 November 2013

new terminal but not yet operational

A few days back, with the wife and daughter, we left for Bangkok City through Clark Airport. We noticed that a new terminal has been constructed beside the old terminal. Moreover, there was a huge improvement at the waiting and boarding area.

Again, we availed Clark's Park n Fly facility. It seems more passengers are flying from Clark. the Park n Fly area was getting crowded nowadays. by the way, make sure that you arrive 2 hours before your flight; I was the last passenger accepted by Tiger Airways staff. Fortunately, I dropped my wife and daughter at the departure gate before I parked our car. Wife and daughter begged the counter staffs to wait for a few more minutes. After I have checked-in they closed the counter. After a couple of minutes I saw two ladies being refused check-in by Tiger Airways staffs. We arrived 50 minutes before our flight due to traffic at NLEX caused by seasonal travelers during the all saints day holiday.

Just to add, Tiger Airways staff have replaced their uniforms. They wear a tangerine fitting blouse and pants; great improvement from their previous majorette attire.

Additional tip, if you have heavy luggage then you may drop your companions with the luggage directly in front of departure gate then drive back to the entrance of park and fly. You can do a u-turn at the corner of the exit side of park and fly. The same thing when you arrive, take your car first  from the parking then drive back to the arrival gate to fetch your companions. 


  1. Sir, thank you very much for your Park and Fly insight. My family together with my elderly mother two children and niece are planning to take a trip to Kuala Lumpur this week end of Nov 1.
    Sir, would you happen to have an idea how early and how heavy the traffic could get come Nov 1? On normal traffic days I would have planned on leaving Quezon City at around 10am for a 3pm flight from Clark. Since it's the holidays, would the traffic be heavier? Thank you very much, regardless for the Park and Fly Input.:)

  2. I believe the traffic won't be that heavy if you plan to leave Q.C. at 10 am. I used to travel to Tarlac on 01 Nov at 8 am and arrived at Tarlac city after 3 hours. The traffic was heavy along EDSA. I suggest that you avoid EDSA and use Mindanao avenue instead in going to NLEX. To add, avoid stop over at any NLEX gas stations. Trust me, you'll lose time in looking for available parking.

    My wife and I will fly to Bangkok on 31 Oct from Clark by Tiger Airways. We'll avail the park and fly for few days.

  3. your posts are most helpful. just a question, is the park n fly parking near the entrance of the airport? or it will be a bit of a walk?

  4. around 100 meters from the check-in entrance but there is no shade from the park and fly up to the entrance.

  5. thanks for the info about the park and fly facility! really helpful~ ;)

  6. you're welcome. next time i'll try to take some shots of the actual parking area. In few months, wife and I will travel to Bangkok again for our online shop. We'll use again Park and Fly at Clark airport.

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  8. Hi this blog is helpful. We will b traveling to hk via clark for holy week, im wondering if you have an idea if the park n fly there is big enough to accomodate d volume of vacationers who will leave their cars? I worry that by 5am on holy thurs we wont have any space to park?

    1. I have left my car in Clark Park and Fly three times and each time I always find a vacant parking space. I believe that most travelers using Clark are coming there via public transport. My advice, make sure that you will arrive at least 2 hours before your flight and in case Park and Fly will be full, try to coordinate with the security staff since I saw another open parking area opposite Park and Fly.

      Enjoy your trip! My family and I will be out of the country as well in April and we'll leave our car again inside Park and Fly.

    2. Which exit do u suggest is faster in getting to DMIA? U said you have tried both mac arthur exit and sta ines exit, any recommendations?

    3. In my experience, Mc Arthur exit is a bit faster since many trucks are also using Sta. Ines exit. Moreover, the road from Sta. Ines exit going to the main intersection is only two-way so when you are caught in traffic, you don't have any choice but to wait while Mc Arthur hiway can accommodate 4-way traffic thus much faster because you can pass along the road shoulder to avoid those slow moving tricycles and jeepneys.

      During our last trip, I discovered another way going to NLEX from Clark. From DMIA airport, I followed the "Exit to Main Gate" road sign then before reaching the Main Gate I saw SCTEX road sign; you need to prepare to turn left when you see this road sign. I followed this road sign and entered SCTEX. After few minutes I exited SCTEX and paid 4 pesos toll fee then I continued to NLEX. I will try this way in April when we go to HKG since our flight is around 7 AM. Definitely this is the fastest way to enter to Clark

    4. Thank you very much for all the infos. U have been most helpful. More power to you and God bless!

  9. Is it true that we have to leave our keys when we avail the park and fly?

    1. No. I always bring my key with me whenever I leave my car in Park and Fly. Besides, the security staff never asked for my car key.

    2. Thanks for the info Welscua...we are taking about Park and Fly at Clark Airport huh? I read somewhere that you have to leave your keys and I became doubtful to try it since then...

    3. You're welcome. I'll include this info in my post above.

  10. Hi...thank you for the Tip..first time we will travel thru Clark airport and will be using the Park & Fly..hoping we will experience the same as you did...thank you very much.

  11. Hi, thanks, your post was very informative. We are planning for a trip to Singapore via Clark, googled Park n fly and found your blog. Just one question: viewing from the map Angeles exit seems to be the nearest exit going to DMIA, is there a way leading to the airport? Thanks in advance.

    1. You're welcome. No worries about finding the road to the airport. Aside from road signs, you may ask the security staff for the direction. They normally lurk in every major intersection inside Clark. I entered Clark from its 4 gates (Mabalacat/Main/South/Nork) and I was able to find my way to the airport; just don't drive fast so you won't miss the road signs.

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  13. Thank you for the info about park n fly. I read somewhere that the 90 pesos is good for 24 hours but if you have excess hours from the cut off, there will be an hourly rate. I was already haggling with a van driver about taking us and picking us up when I came upon your blog. Hope this is still applicable today.