Off to the US and NAIA Terminal 2

We left for the US last April 18. We took the PR 102 flight to Los Angeles at 10PM.

Philippine Airlines, if am not mistaken, is the only airline that flies direct to the US from Manila. Relatives and friends say PAL is more expensive (and I believe it is true) but when you travel with kids, I guess you would be willing to pay a price for convenience.

Since our flight was at 10pm, we left the house at 6pm. Traffic was quite heavy in the Makati area on the way to the airport but we were there at about 7:15pm. Checking in was no problem so we were done in about an hour with checking in, immigration, and the security checks.

Our travel agent warned us not to take anything liquid in our hand carried bags to avoid any inconvenience. That includes toothpaste, medicines (not unless you have a prescription), and even bottled water. Don't worry, the airline will provide you with toothpaste and a toothbrush once you are on board. And yes, we did see a lot of bottled water being confiscated.

Please remember too that the terminal fee has been increased to P750 per person (and this is inclusive of the security fee). For US-bound passengers, you will need to go through security checks twice: once after immigration, and another just before you wait near the gate where you are supposed to go to when you board the plane.

The security checks are inconvenient to say the least -- particularly when you are traveling with children (a 5-year old and a 10-year old in our case) who cannot move us fast or who need help with their things. You will need to remove your shoes and all metal objects from your body as the checks are done. If possible, it may be better to wear sandals or slip on shoes -- so they are easier to remove and put back on. As for the usual tip that it is better to wear rubber shoes or sneakers with laces when taking the plane so that if ever you are in an accident (and survive!), you are sure that your shoes will stay on your feet -- you'll take longer in removing and putting your shoes back on for security purposes. The choice is yours then as to the type of shoe that you should wear. I personally went for the slip on shoes and sandals as it was 100% sure that I would go for security. As for a safe plane ride, I prayed for that every time and since am now back to blogging, you can see that I have safely returned and my prayers were answered.

I can only guess that the stores near the gates in the airport have suffered a drop in sales. Every time you leave the waiting areas near the gates to go the bathroom or to buy stuff, you will need to remove your shoes, go through the metal detector, etc. It was such a hassle that I exasperatedly asked the security officer who was checking me after I came from the bathroom with my kids: "Ganito po ba sa lahat ng flights?" (Is the security check like this for all the flights?) The reassuring answer came quickly: "Sa US lang po." (Only for the US.)

Thank heavens. At least we can travel to Europe or Asia or some other place and not go through those security checks. We did enjoy our US vacation though -- so I don't know how soon we can forget those security checks and be off to America again. Then again, it's not just a matter of security, it's also a matter of having the time and the money. =)

Up Next: The Plane Ride and Arriving in Los Angeles

[By Angelica Viloria | Monday, May 7, 2007]

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