NAIA third most stressful airport in Asia – study
MANILA, Philippines—For the longest time, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), considered as the main gateway to the Philippines, has been named one of the worst airports in the world and has received numerous complaints from passengers across the globe.
Ahead of the holiday season and the expected holiday rush, a new report released by the travel website hawaiianislands.com has once again ranked NAIA as among the worst airports in Asia and the world.
Last month, the travel website released its report titled “The Most Stressful Airports in America and the World,” which was done through analysis of over 1,500 Google reviews for over 500 airports across the world.
READ: The Most Stressful Airports in America and the World
“We analyzed the sentiment of Google reviews and ranked airports around the world and within the United States based on the percentage of reviews that indicate stress,” hawaiianislands.com explained.
Delays, long queues, and crying babies—according to the report—are just among the many reasons that air travel can be stressful for passengers, adding issues such as turbulence, baggage claim, and costly beverage on the flight.
NAIA: 3rd most stressful airport in Asia
Although airports in Southeast Asia and Oceania had an average of just 34.0 percent stress levels based on reviews by passengers—the least of any region included in the report—it was still home to some of the most stressful airports in the world, including NAIA.
NAIA—with 57.81 percent of its passenger reviews indicating stress—ranked the third most stressful airport in the region next to Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport in Australia (58.98 percent) and Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Vietnam (60.13 percent, the most stressed out reviews of any airport in Southeast Asia).
Based on recent reviews for NAIA in Google Maps, among the common complaints left by passengers were the alleged lack of organization, long lines, overcrowding, lack of seats at the departure gates, and delayed luggage release.
READ: Stress, scams at Naia
Other passengers also pointed out that most, if not all, food stalls and restaurants or cafes inside the airport only accept cash for payment—which several tourists and passengers found inconvenient.
Three other airports in the country were analyzed by the travel website, although not included on the worst airport list in the region. These were the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (38.9 percent of stressed reviews), Subic Bay International Airport (30.8 percent), and Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City (22.1 percent).
Disputing longstanding worst airport claims
Another travel website, the widely cited Guide to Sleeping in Airports, described NAIA as a “large and often frustrating airport.” It also advised travelers to “expect to wait in numerous long lines as you make your way to your flight.”
Similar to some Google Maps reviews, the website also noted that some shops and restaurants are mainly cash only, pushing travelers to find ATMs inside the airport.
It also warned passengers of scams and to take “extra care” of their belongings due to numerous reports about bullet-planting scams—or the “tanim-bala” which became widely known in 2015—demand for bribes such as the notorious “pastillas” scheme in 2020, broken CCTVs, and general theft.”
Meanwhile, around May, global luggage storage app Bounce named NAIA as the worst airport in the world—out of 38 airports included in the study—for business class travelers, with a 0.88 out of 10 business class score.
The study looked at the airports’ number of lounges, number of destinations served, percentage of on-time flights annually, and Skytrax rating.
According to Skytrax, NAIA is “certified as a 3-Star Airport for facilities, comfort, cleanliness, shopping, food & beverages, and staff service.”
“Manila Airport is a congested hub. Immigration and security queues can be excessive, while comfort for transfer passengers is low. Terminal spaces have poor air-conditioning, often busy and offering limited facilities and dining choices,” it noted.
However, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) disputed these previous claims against NAIA, saying that such claims are “unsubstantiated.”
“While the ‘study’ shows unfavorable rating and unsubstantiated claims about NAIA, it cannot be denied that significant improvements have been carried out in the country’s main gateway in the past six years under the Duterte administration,” the transportation department said in a statement.
Then Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade also told Filipinos not to believe the Bounce study, saying it had “no fundamentals nor parameters” to support its claim that NAIA is the worst airport.
“There was some press release saying that NAIA is one of the worst business class airports. Don’t believe that. It is an app based on a study that has no fundamentals and parameters, and you don’t know how the conclusion was made,” Tugade added.
READ: NAIA ranking as worst business class airport? Don’t believe that, Tugade says
Where travelers get stressed the most
The study by hawaiaanislands.com found that out of the many airports in the world, Manchester Airport in the United Kingdom (UK) was the most stressful, with 82.5 percent of reviews indicating stress.
“Many of the millions of passengers traveling through Manchester may feel stressed from the recent staff shortages and long lines. Some of the most common terms that crop up in reviews include ‘embarrassment,’ ‘shortages,’ ‘queuing,’ ‘farce,’ and ‘jobsworth’,” the study stated.
“In April 2022, Manchester Airport apologized to customers for long security queues, blaming the inconvenience on growing passenger demand in the wake of the pandemic,” it added.
It found that nine out of 10 most stressful airports overall are in Europe, four of which are (UK) airports.
The study also saw that, surprisingly, the busiest airports are “not necessarily the most stressful.”
“While heavy passenger traffic can create long queues and other issues, the busiest airports in the world are not necessarily the most stressful. The 20 busiest airports by passenger traffic, for example, all rank outside the top 25 most stressful airports, according to our analysis,” the study explained.
“The one busy airport that does rank as particularly stressful is Amsterdam Schiphol in the Netherlands.”
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