Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) opening to Grab in 2016 welcomed a new era of hassle-free transfers from the Philippines’ largest air hub. For a few years, it provided just that, all the while (finally) ridding NAIA of notorious taxi scams that tainted the facility time and time again.
Until recently, passengers have reported that they can’t book Grab NAIA like they used to. Connectivity issues aside, it seems like NAIA has even blocked the ride-hailing service, forcing passengers to scramble for other ways to travel from NAIA to parts of Metro Manila. We looked into the incident, and here’s what we found.
Grab NAIA not working
If you’re having trouble accessing Grab from NAIA, know that you’re not alone. In fact, this has actually been happening since the start of the lockdown in Metro Manila in 2020. But with stricter travel restrictions back then, which included closing all NAIA terminals themselves, none of us would have noticed it.
In a short advisory, Grab said that the ceasing of its NAIA operations was, as you might have expected, due to COVID-19 safety protocols in the Philippines. “MIAA prohibits GrabCar and GrabTaxi to pick up arriving passengers from NAIA. This is to help prevent the possible COVID transmission and in compliance with the government safety protocol,” Grab Philippines says in an automated response via its social media channels.
Along with this adjustment, MIAA has removed Grab booths from NAIA terminals, which leads to the more concerning dilemma: How then can passengers — particularly those without private transport and carrying large pieces of luggage or with children, PWD, and seniors — travel from NAIA safely and conveniently?
Alternative ways to leave NAIA
If you’re arriving in NAIA Terminal 3, the first solution you might have thought of would be to simply cross Runway Manila, the bridge connecting the airport and the nearby Resorts World Manila. Then, book Grab at the integrated resort instead. Unfortunately, the bridge is also closed during this time, along with the link from the NAIA parking area.
That being said, here are some available NAIA transfer options as suggested by other passengers. Take note that they are applicable when arriving not just via Terminal 3, but also nearby Terminals 1 and 2.
Walk to the main road
If you’re only carrying small pieces of luggage and not accompanied by children, PWD, or seniors, you can walk for a few minutes to a main road outside NAIA. Once there, hail a regular taxi, or take a jeepney to nearby areas (e.g. Baclaran), if any, where you can also ride a taxi or Grab to your destination.
Board a point-to-point bus
Thankfully, the P2P bus is still accessible from NAIA. If your destination is within the vicinity of its drop-off points (e.g. Baclaran, Taft, Ortigas, etc.), then this is your best option. Otherwise, you can easily catch a ride after alighting similar to the first NAIA travel option.
Arrange other pick-ups
If you have a relative or friend who has a car, then you can come to an arrangement to pick you up from NAIA. Otherwise, there are car rental services in Metro Manila that you can book ahead. Among them are DOT-accredited transportation services like Carfield Tourist Transport and Villamor Transpo. Dedicated online communities like this Facebook group are also accessible round the clock.
Take traditional airport taxis
While it’s generally not recommended to take the yellow airport metred taxis, this option is still available. Along with regular white taxis, ride them with caution and if possible, only as a last resort as they can get pretty expensive. Some of them are also infamous for swindling their passengers.
Until Grab NAIA returns, or even when you simply prefer to take other NAIA transfers besides the popular ride-hailing service, the above options are at your disposal. Furthermore, the ongoing restriction only applies to pick-ups. One may still use the app when going to or dropping off a passenger at the Manila airport.