That’s the Davao International Airport. I used to love it so much I even wrote poems about it.
A few days ago, I heard from a friend that there were reports branding Philippine airports as the worst in the world. Now, I have never been to other countries but I have heard of horror stories from different international airports. Some talked about uber grumpy/ hormonal staff, not enough signages, dirty and odorous bathrooms, no/ inconvenient bathrooms, escalator/walkalator malfunctions and so much more. So here’s the shizz: airports cover a fast-paced, risky and demanding clientele. Nitpicking airports is pointless. Also, no establishment is perfect.
But here’s this guy anyway, who many not have the best of days when he went to NAIA or any other provincial airport. And he declared our airports as the worst in the world. Well, that got me thinking of my own experience on Philippine airports and here are a few improvements that I can suggest:
1. More airports please. NAIA is just becoming so crowded and flights are cheaper when they’re direct so I suggest opening up more airports.Also, seat sales have just become more frequent. Newer airports, we need you.
2. Bigger and nicer bathrooms. Flights, at the very least, last 45 minutes. In a plane with almost a hundred people, even 10% of that may have to clean out their systems when the plane lands. Multiply that with landings per hour. Add that to the people who are still about to board the plane. Then everyone who works in the airport. Now go do the math. I would also appreciate nicer bathrooms. It’s not rocket science. Just clean, fragrant and with endless supply of tissue, soap, and a working hand dryer. Breastfeeding/ changing area for infants are also nice. For airports that charge P200-P500 as terminal fee, I think these kinds of bathrooms are well-deserved.
3. Walkalators. Long walks are not my thing. Except under the moonlight, in my best dress, with Ed Westwick. I’m sure a lot of women feel the same way. Plus, a lot of travelers like to bring backpacks with them because it makes both of their hands free when traveling. Everytime I go to NAIA and find out that my boarding gate is at 127, I always wanted to the earth to swallow me whole.
4. Better services. All members of the airport staff must act like they’re serving customers of a 5-star hotel. Most travelers just go to the airport to get things done. They just want to get to their destination. The airport is just another red tape they’d have to cross. I don’t think there’s someone who likes going to the airport just because. (Unless they’re working on a book about it.) As much as possible, the airport experience could be done better if the airport staff just focused on REALLY serving their customers. Do not forget, you are paying P200-500 for a service that you don’t even want. You just needed to go through it. Most passengers are impatient or simply do not tolerate bullshit so please, airport staff, extend a little more warmth, patience and passion in your jobs.
I know, all my demands cost money. But seriously, the airports are overcharging us anyway. And we don’t even get free WiFi, or at least a cup of coffee. And don’t tell me they don’t earn well. Think terminal fees + ads. Get the picture?
Here in Davao city, the king of airport ads is APM. They’re a well-known ads and printing company here. From what I’ve learned, they’re charging at least P10,000 from each airport ad they deploy. There are tarps on by the elevator, tarps by the waiting area, TVs with ads on loop, posters, flyers and gigantic stickers on walkways, on the tube and on huge airport windows. Of course the government earns a huge sum from this too. Who’s to say the airport needs funding?
Speaking of airport ads, there’s this really controversial news about Digichive, the agency that the government subcontracted to sell NAIA’s airport ads. For the past 5 years, they’re giving MIAA (Manila International Airport Authority) P10.5M as an “assurance rental” for all airport ads. Earnings beyond that price floor is their income. This year, as part of PNoy’s Daang Matuwid program, MIAA was checked and they found out that the ads are earning waaaaay beyond the amount that reaches MIAA’s hands. Now on re-bidding, Digichive automatically put down P101.5M as their bid and get this: THEY STILL LOST. You can check out this other reference too.
As a marketing person, I wouldn’t flinch that much if only I saw commensurate developments in the airports. I know that it is Digichive’s sales and marketing efforts that made them earn that much. However, half of the deal also involves the overall condition of the airport so I guess they should have put more effort on that as well. And this goes to all the other agencies handling airport ads, yo.
Now you have an idea how much these airport ads really cost. Questions: where does all this money go? Why are they proposing an increase in terminal fees without blatant improvements? WHERE ARE MY BEAUTIFUL AIRPORT BATHROOMS?