Manila airport security
Trip Start Aug 30, 2009
244Trip End Dec 25, 2009
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
December 18, 2009
Through the Manila traffic to the airport yesterday evening was a trip fraught with dangers. Mostly it is the traffic that is horrendous and I'm not sure where they learn to drive but giving way to anyone is only done when a crash is imminent. Merging and pulling onto new streets is done with a slow down only. It does seem to work for them but I’m fairly sure if I were to live there, I wouldn’t be driving much. Again I had the locked doors on my taxi. The driver locked them as soon as I got into the car. This time I did not see beggars and vendors in the street banging on my window and looking in to see who was inside but I was in areas where this could have happened. Manila has a lot of contrasts everywhere.
The airport has security guards before you can drive into the area, whether you are parking or dropping off. Usually they seem to let taxi drivers through when they have a foreign faced passenger. But once at the drop-off point, you have to go through security to even enter the airport which means family and friends cannot come into the airport with you as you must have a ticket and a passport to get in. I struggled to put my suitcase onto the conveyor belt, NOT because it was overly heavy but because of my strained back muscle which was making it very difficult to move. Then my backpack and my purse onto the conveyor and then I walked through the security gate that zaps you looking for metal. The man at the controls of the security conveyor belt looked quite closely at all the bags going through so everyone was standing around waiting for their bags to come into the airport.
Once in the airport, my flight was not on the boards yet so I had about 15 minutes to wait. When it popped open for which check in counters, I headed in that direction and was questioned by an airline lady as to what I had in my checked bag and what I had in my carry on bag. She didn’t actually look at anything though. On my way to get to check in and to get to the question lady, I passed a sign with a rather large and conspicuous bullet on the sign. It was in the conventionally understood circle with a line through it meaning you can’t have bullets here. Just in case you didn’t understand this, it was accompanied by the text that read: "Bullets are NOT cargo".
I had already checked in on line and needed to just get my boarding pass and check my bag. Another lady with many questions on what is in my suitcase and what I had packed but she then took the bag, gave me my boarding pass and also a pass for the business class lounge. The boarding time printed on the boarding pass was an hour before the flight was to leave. I have never gotten to a gate to find that they were actually boarding at the time that was printed on the pass and it’s never been an hour before the flight.
I go over to the terminal fee area and the immigration area. I have to find the departure form and there is only one on all the counters. I fill it in and head to the immigration officer when a uniformed man stops to hand me one of the forms. As I will be leaving the Philippines again, I took another form from him to hopefully save time next time I pass through here. Immigration took only about 15 minutes but that was because I always pick the wrong line. It was 10 minutes for the one lady at the desk and 5 minutes for the other 4 people in front of me.
Now I get to go through security again. There is a separate line for men and women here. Of course the woman’s line was much longer even though we were all carrying much less than the line for men. I think the women are not used to shedding their belts and shoes so it was taking awhile for the ladies in front of me to divest themselves of part of their clothing. The security people didn’t care that my laptop wasn’t out of the case and then they put my shoes right on top of the laptop. My husband has read that putting the shoes into a basket to pass through the security x-ray negates any attempt to see into the bottoms of the shoes which is where you would put anything explosive anyway. Guess the Philippine airport people have not gotten the memo on this.
Once again, everything goes through the security machine and as I step through the metal detection frame, a woman on the other side gets to manhandle me to see if I am carrying anything under my clothes. I am of course, but she must recognize the feel of the money belt as she just slides her hands over it and keeps going. I wonder how many women they catch with plastic weapons in their bras?
Finally I am through the security and ready to sit in the lounge and call my husband back because he had called me just as I was getting ready to go through the security frame. The lounge where I am admitted is down one of the concourses and I have to go through a passport check to get to it. That was pretty perfunctory though. He didn’t even glance at my passport when he saw that I had a lounge invitation in my hand. He was checking all the documents of the 6 Filipina ladies in front of me, very carefully checking them. Maybe they have something on their documents that indicate if they are available or not.
I relax in the lounge until it is almost 9:10 (the hour at when I am supposed to be boarding at the gate), use the toilet, and then leave the lounge. I am at gate 16 but around me are gates 7- 15 and then gates 17-20. I head back into the lounge and she tells me I have to go back to the duty free area and then head left to find gate 16. I am doing all of this in great pain as I can hardly move because of the back sprain or spasm or whatever it is I have done to myself.
Back past the concourse security checker, back into the duty free area, and an airport employee sees me and asks where I am going and she directs me to gate 16. Then it is downstairs to a table which is full of three passengers having their bags totally riffled through by 6 airport personnel on the other side. I have to wait for my turn to get to the table.
Now, remember that I have already been questioned extensively by one airport personnel and one airline personnel. I have had all of my possessions sent through a security x ray machine twice and have gone through a metal detector myself, twice. I have had my passport checked in the following places: 1) coming into the airport, 2) going to the check in desk, 3) at the check in desk, 4) going into the immigration/terminal fee area, 5) the terminal fee lady, 6) the immigration man, 7) the security people to get into the departure lounge, 8) the concourse security man to go to the lounge, 9) the lounge personnel, and 10) Two people to get to my departure gate.
Now I am getting my goods checked once again. This time there are no machines but people opening the bags and taking every single item out of your purse/backpack/suitcase/briefcase/sack and spreading it onto the table to look at it. And while they are doing it, they are asking you questions which I don’t always understand if they have a strong accent or I don’t hear because they are looking at my stuff and mumbling. I do feel violated. I also feel nervous. I have gone through hundreds of security checks at airports all around the world but never this intense and I am thinking what if they don’t like the looks of some of my stuff or decide that it’s not good for me to have it OR just decide that they want it and can come up with a reason to take it.
Oddly enough, she got tired of the whole deal and after going carefully through my purse and most of my backpack, she didn’t manage to pull out my jewelry pouch where there are some very desirable items in there. I will have to remember to wear a lot of my jewelry on the day I leave Manila again. The lady next to me had a suitcase full of wrapped presents. When they told her they had to look at each one, she blew a gasket and started haranguing them about destroying Christmas and why couldn’t they believe her when she told them what was in each package. Opps. She took a very, very, very long time to get through the line.
After putting my stuff back together, she takes it over to a chair and puts it on a chair and I now get to go through an intensive wanding. I had forgotten I had two tiny coins in my pocket and they set off the wand then I had forgotten some coins in my money belt and that set off the wand. I am also in serious pain from standing there this long and I long ago lost patience with the entire process but I know to keep my mouth shut or it just makes it worse and they start finding things that are wrong. Also at each stop they examine the passport and the boarding pass like I have counterfeited it all since arriving at the airport. They seemed to think I was a transit passenger too and I had to tell them 4 times that I was not. One lady spent so much time looking at my passport that I knew she was just curious and wanted to see where I have been. My passport has had pages added to it 3 times so it is rather thick and unwieldy now.
Finally the wand lady is satisfied that I am not carrying anything odd under my clothes and the odd shape of my body is truly my body. I am passed to the next man who asks me to sit down and take off my shoes. I am just thankful that they didn’t have all of us go into the toilet and disrobe. He proceeds to put his hands in the shoes and pull up the inserts and check out the shoes. Still in pain, I have to laboriously lean over to get my shoes back on my feet. The lady standing next to him and watching the entire time asks for my passport and boarding card one more time and pulls apart the boarding card and gives me the stub and I am finally ready to get on my plane, after redressing and tucking away everything again. So this is why they put such an early time on your boarding pass, so they have time to thoroughly rifle though your belongings.
Two more checks before we get to board the plane. Passport and boarding pass to be allowed to go down the ramp and boarding pass to be allowed to get on the plane. I really have to wonder how much stuff they find as they do this search on everyone. Obviously they don’t trust their machines that every passenger has passed through twice. So what’s the point of the machines then? Do one or the other but it sure puts a bad taste in your mouth to be treated so. As always, people who have no ties to anything bad and could not comprehend hurting anyone or anything are the ones that have to be punished for the deeds of the fanatics and psychopaths. I would really like to see stats on how this has caught bad people and bad things from getting on planes.