MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has reminded passengers going abroad during the holidays to be at the airport early to avoid crowding amid an increasing number of departing travelers at local airports.
In a statement, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said arriving earlier than the scheduled flight will allow passengers ample time to check in at their airlines and ensure social distancing at the immigration area.
Morente said that in the past few days they have observed a steady increase in the number of international travelers departing from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), and the airports in Mactan, Cebu, and Clark, Pampanga with the onset of the holiday season.
“While there are significantly fewer travelers this year because of the pandemic, there could still be congestion for late passengers rushing during boarding time,” said Morente.
“We can help avoid congestion during boarding by checking in early,” he added.
Local airlines also suggest that travelers start the check-in process 3 to 4 hours prior to their scheduled flight.
Morente said that due to the pandemic, airlines would need to conduct additional checks to ensure compliance with travel restrictions of different countries of destination.
The Immigration chief also advised departing passengers to make sure that they possess complete travel documents, as well as the added travel requirements by different countries due to the pandemic.
He also added that BI officers have been instructed to be more vigilant in screening passengers as human traffickers and illegal recruiters could take advantage of the holiday rush to spirit their victims out of the country.
“Our immigration officers are always on the lookout for suspected human trafficking and illegal recruitment victims,” said Morente.
“Despite the holiday rush, we will ensure that our kababayans are protected from these predators, and we will turn over any victims to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for filing of cases against their recruiters,” he added.