Confirming a job abroad may be a turning point for a Filipino aiming to earn more, but it’s certainly not the end of story. When we get a job offer, we have to accomplish certain tasks before we can start: book air ticket, attend PDOS, undergo medical examinations, and so on. And since you’ve come this far to secure a job abroad, accomplishing the remaining tasks could never be more inspiring. So let’s assume you have finished them all and you find yourself staring at the clock hours before your intended flight. You may be nervous, unsure if you’ve got everything as required, unsure what are the real airport procedures after hearing different versions from everyone.
Here are some tips to consider just as you arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila. This is hopefully helpful for first time travelers who may not have any idea of what to expect or wary of unscrupulous individuals prowling for victims at the airport premises.
1. Before you enter the airport building, submit your OEC (Overseas Employment Certificate) for validation to the office located on the right of the main building. A validated OEC enables you to avail of exemption from paying travel tax. Tourists and business travelers pay this amount, but OFWs are exempt as long as they show this sheet of paper. In case you haven’t got this document yet, don’t worry. You can get this certificate from the same office for a fraction of the cost of travel tax.
2. Once you have your OEC validated, you may now enter NAIA by presenting your passport and ticket ready to the duty guards at the entrance gate. Doing so avoids the unnecessary delay, especially when you don’t have the luxury of time to queue for more lines inside the airport terminal.
3. You need to pass through the security X-ray scanner, including your luggage and hand carried items. Prior to doing so, be aware of prohibited items inside the bags (bladed weapons, prohibited drugs, explosives, etc). If caught with possession of such items, you may be investigated or worse, detained for further investigation, thereby forfeiting your upcoming flight.
4. Once you have passed through the security checks, proceed to the check in counter of your airline to book your seat and check in your baggage. Look for the counter that displays the same flight number as indicated in your air ticket. If you’re flying on economy class, promptly follow the line under this class. Some airlines deploy staff to weigh your luggage while queuing to cut front desk processing time but most others don’t. Therefore it’s good practice before you leave the house to check the weight of your luggage to ensure it is below the limit. Check your bag’s weight limit in your air ticket. Should your bag weigh more than the prescribed weight, you can consider removing the less important ones. Otherwise, be prepared to pay excess baggage fees should the front desk is not too flexible to allow you to carry a few kilos more.
5. If you receive a departure form from the airline staff, fill it up accurately and keep it. You will give it to the immigration officer once you pass by the immigration checkpoint later. If you don’t receive this form, you can obtain this later at the check in counter or at the immigration counter.
6. At the check in counter, show your passport, OEC and ticket to the staff in charge for verification. If you incur surcharges for extra weight, you need to pay it at the cashier nearby. Once done, staff will return your ticket, OEC (staff will retain one copy and return the rest), passport and boarding pass. The boarding pass will display the gate number to proceed, time of flight and reminder the latest time you should be at the gate to avoid missing your flight.
7. After leaving the check in counter, be sure you have the following: passport, ticket, boarding pass, OEC and departure form. Have them handy as they may be inspected from time to time. Proceed to the immigration section and show your passport, ticket, departure form and boarding pass. There are special lanes intended for OFWs you may want to follow. Depending on your work, you may need to bring proof of employment and show them to the immigration officer as a precaution check for illegal recruitment so have them ready. Officer may ask you questions regarding your contract, job description, employment agency and related topics. Once approved, the immigration officer will stamp a chop on your passport, signifying of your impending departure. He will also keep the immigration form.
8. Proceed to the gate indicated in your boarding pass. Before doing so, you may need to pass through another X-ray scanner and require you to remove belt, shoes, watch, mobile phone and jewelry.
9. Upon finding your designated gate, your documents may still be checked by airline staff to ensure you are at the right gate. Once you pass through this last check, you’re now ready to board the plane so just sit back and wait for further notice.
10. Airline staff usually call on disabled, elderly and people traveling with kids as sign of courtesy. Wait for your turn. Upon boarding the plane, look for your seat number as indicated in your boarding pass. Place your hand carry luggage at the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you.
11. Spend time to pray for thanksgiving for granting the job, safety of your journey and guidance and good health while working abroad. Have a pleasant trip and good luck.