A month ago, former officemate Wen Soriano invited me to join her and family to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Together with Femee Cruz, I looked for a flight suitable for our schedule. Cebu Pacific flew to Kota Kinabalu from Manila, but not on the dates we wanted. We decided to go with Air Asia… the only hitch is that it departs from the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) which is located around an 1:15 hours away from Manila in Clark in Pampanga.

Getting to the DMIA is fairly simple… once you get passed the Manila traffic and through the MRT construction passed SM North Edsa to Balinatawak it’s actually a pleasant ride. You take the NLEX from Balintawak through to the exit past Dau which exits to the SCTEX. The entire toll for the length of NLEX costs P179 pesos (splint into two chunks if you are northbound. When you exit SLEX you are once again greeted with another toll plaza…

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From here, you go straight to head left (Southbound), be careful not to turn right or your head northbound to Tarlac. Exit the first SCTEX exit, South Clark… don’t fret Toll is only P3.

Upon exiting… just follow all signs to DMIA. You will reach the main road which… if you turn left heads toward SM Clark… of course you go right. You will pass the Friendship Highway entrance… continue forward. At the next stoplight turn right. Keep straight and don’t take the fork to the left. The signs will then start to say “Passenger Terminal. Continue forward till you get to the DMIA gate.

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Follow the road… and you get to the main terminal.

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It was a little spooky because we seemed to be the only one there. Anyway, after passing the standard security checks… we headed our way to the Air Asia counters.

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Once checked in, we were supposed to go to pay for the terminal fee when were told to pay for our travel tax. Hmm, since we bought the tickets online from airasia.com, wala palang airport tax bayad namin. We proceeded to this counter conveniently located next to two ATM machines where after proclaiming that were tourists and not OFWs, we paid P1620 each travel tax.

We then went to pay P600 fees constituting P100 security fee and P500 terminal fee.

We then went through immigration and proceeded to the pre-departure lounge

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There was adequately a sufficient number of food stalls, souvenir shops, magazine stands, and even a “load” counter. yes, there weren’t many passengers at the time… but a lot of establishments to keep you entertained.

The departure lounge resembled the old Domestic airport.

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Boarding time

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Hmmm colorful.

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Ooo… leather(ette) seats!

There Air Asia seats were actually very comfy. I’d day more comfortable than PAL and far more comfortable than the cheap seats of Cebu Pacific.

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View from my seat window… 6A.  Ready to take off.

All in all, my first DMIA experience was interesting and quite a pleasant experience!