If you are an OFW and have booked your air ticket abroad, you are exempted from paying 550 pesos airport terminal fee at NAIA.
Based on my experience last April, only few OFWs claimed their refund prior to their departure. Most of them were not able to do so due to lack of time to queue at the "Terminal fee REFUND" counters as they have to catch their flights, either that or they do not know about this privilege.
Here are some tips on how to avail the 550 pesos. Please note that I traveled via Emirates.
- To avoid long queue, check yourself in online and print your boarding pass or use your mobile for the boarding pass.
- Proceed to the baggage check counter when you arrive at the airport and drop your baggage there. Present your ticket, boarding pass, passport and OEC. They will tell you to go to the next Emirates counter.
- At the next counter, you will again present the same documents and then they will give you Official Receipt/Invoice.
- After you gone past Immigration, you will see the queue at the Departure refund counter - it's a small room on the left side.
Queue at the Departure refund counter
- I had to wait for more than half an hour in the queue to get the refund... I almost left the queue.
- While still in queue - heard the ladies at the counter (only 2 counters inside) telling OFWs to have available copies of work visa, etc next time. That explains the long queue lines - some OFWs were submitting incomplete documents. Photocopying their documents is slowing the ladies at the counter down. Good thing they have a photocopy machine and it's free of charge plus they have ready change of 550 pesos.
- When it was my turn, I apologised to the lady for not having a copy of my work visa as I did not know. The lady told me it was okay as long as I have my OEC and that visa copy, etc are only required for those who do not have OEC.
Inside the Departure Refund Counter
We, OFWs, should also play our part. Before you complain & criticize the government for being slow and blame them for the long queue, ask yourself first - have I done my part? do I have the necessary documents? Remember, the country progresses when people and the government work together towards a common goal: DEVELOPMENT.