Transportation app Uber is seen on the iPhone of limousine driver Shuki Zanna, 49, in Beverly Hills, California, December 19, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Until recently, due to lack of transport options that has been prevailing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, arriving passengers without anyone meeting them are prompted to take the taxi to various points in Metro Manila.

The lack of other transport options have prompted many taxi drivers to take advantage and has been notoriously charging extortionate rates. But to a tired, excited or sleepless traveler, whatever is available is the only choice.

Related: Estimated taxi fares from NAIA to various locations in Metro Manila

Thankfully, there are new alternatives for passengers going out of the airport.

There’s the UBE Express premium bus which travels to a few destinations. However, most of its bus stops are located in Pasay, Paranaque and Makati corridor and as of writing does not provide routes for Quezon City and other locations. Metered and fixed fare taxi cabs are available, yet you’ll still find touts trying to trick an unsuspecting passengers into taking the overpriced rides.


Then comes Uber. And Grab. These two car-hailing apps have revolutionized taxi transport worldwide that it has earned praise from passengers wary of taxi drivers who exhibit foul attitude and charge more, and derision from taxi drivers for “stealing” their legitimate business. In Manila, these two are just what abusive taxi drivers need to stop them in their tracks.

How to take Uber from Ninoy Aquino International Airport

1. Get your mobile phone data so it can connect to an Uber app. This is especially applicable to first time visitors and do not have data plans on their smartphones. NAIA is now equipped with free wifi (Globe or Smart are ideal go-to connections for free wifi) so you don’t really need to buy data SIM card to connect to Uber. But if you wish to wish to buy SIM card for later use, at the arrival area, you should be able to find booth for two major mobile network providers named Globe and Smart. You can pick one of them and have them replace your SIM card with theirs and activate it.

2. Download Uber app. In case you haven’t done so, go to App Store for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, etc) or Google Play for Android devices (Samsung, etc) and search for Uber. Install the Uber app and sign up. Payment options include credit cards (Visa, MC, American Express) or PayPal

Related: Get your first ride on Uber free. Click here to apply.

3. Identify your terminal location. NAIA has four terminals and determining your location can help a lot in locating your Uber driver and your driver easily able to locate you. Your terminal can be determined by the nature of your flight (local or international) and your airline.

Terminal 1
Air China
Air Niugini
Asiana Airlines
China Airlines
China Eastern Airlines
China Southern Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines
Etihad Airways
Gulf Air
Japan Airlines
Jeju Air
Jetstar Asia Airways
Jetstar Japan
Korean Air
Kuwait Airways
Malaysia Airlines
Oman Air
Qatar Airways
Royal Brunei Airlines
Thai Airway
Turkish Airlines
United Airlines

Terminal 2
Philippine Airlines
PAL Express

Terminal 3
All Nippon Airways
Cathay Pacific
Cebu Pacific
Delta Air Lines
PAL Express (Basco, Busuanga, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Calbayog, Catarman, Caticlan, Cotabato, Dipolog, Dumaguete, Kalibo, Legazpi, Masbate, Naga, Ozamiz, Puerto Princesa, Roxas, Surigao, Tablas, Tacloban, Tuguegarao, Zamboanga)
Philippines AirAsia
Singapore Airlines

Terminal 4
Cebgo (Busuanga, Caticlan, Cebu, Iloilo, Kalibo, Laoag, Naga)
Philippines AirAsia
Sky Pasada

4. Choose your Uber ride. There’s UberPOOL which is the more affordable version and allows you to share your ride with another passenger, or the UberX which allows you to exclusively ride the car to your destination.

Once you get through immigration and exit from the baggage area, you should be able to get wifi and launch Uber.

It’s best if you go to the pickup curb where wifi is still available and see your incoming car. You can then select the bay number labeled on Terminal 3 pillars — Bay 1 all the way to the left and Bay 8 to the right — depending on your location. For Terminal 2, bays are labeled 2 to the extreme left to 11 in the middle separating domestic and international flights to 23 to the far side of the terminal if you’re exiting international arrivals. By selecting the bay number correctly, it is easier for both driver and passenger to locate each other.


Before you decide to pick up Uber as your transport choice you know how much you’re going to pay, even if it’s just a price range whose final outcome depends mainly on traffic conditions. That’s much better (and helps you prepare amount to hand out as fare if you choose ‘CASH’ as payment method) than constantly looking at the taxi’s meter.


Once a driver has agreed to pick you up, note the car make and plate number.

For Terminal 1 passengers, you can arrange the pickup point with your Uber driver usually designated by a letter, often based on the first letter of your last name. Walk down a ramp and you’ll notice posts labeled with letters. Cars will stop in front but because the area is quite crowded, you need to make sure you are able to check the plate number of the car passing through.


Note 1: Be aware that other Uber cars might also be delivering passengers to NAIA’s departure terminals located one level above the arrival area, and then pick riders from there. So you might notice in the map that although the driver is in front of you whose waiting at the arrival area, it’s in fact above you (at the departure area). This might sound quite close but the layout of the airport requires drivers to make a loop which can take between 10 and 30 minutes depending on traffic congestion. So be prepared to cancel your ride if it’s taking too long and you’re in a hurry.

Note 2: Although Uber drivers picking up passengers at NAIA anticipate also carrying pieces of luggage, it’s not outlawed for smaller compact models to operate in the area. So be aware if you are bringing with you large pices of luggage. Smaller cars like Hyundai Accent, Kia Picanto, Honda Fit or Ford Fiesta might accommodate you, but luggage might be questionable so it’s better to take more spacious (but more expensive) UberBLACK which features mid-sized SUVs.

Note 3: If UberX is in price surge, you might consider UberBLACK even though under normal circumstances, its more expensive. But once UberX is on price surge during peak hours which basically multiplies normal fare by a factor between 1.1 and 3, not only UberBlack more spacious and comfortable, it might even cost you less than an UberX on surge pricing.

Transportation app Uber is seen on the iPhone of limousine driver Shuki Zanna, 49, in Beverly Hills, California, December 19, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

5. Enjoy the ride. In Manila, we learned that Uber also accepts cash on top of credit card and PayPal options. So if you’re not willing to stack up on card expenses or PayPal’s running out of funds, your old reliable wallet should address your fare requirement for this Uber ride.