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We planned to travel in the Philippines since March, but due to the situation it got postponed and we waited for 6 months. We make sure to do our diligence like watching news, reading updated articles outline about when is safe to travel back to the Philippines. We booked our flight thru PAL (Philippines Airline) hoping that we can get a direct flight from LAX (Los Angeles) to Cebu, Philippines but after 3 times PAL sent us a notice that our flight were change to MANILA, we called them asking if there are any flight origin that would go to Cebu but the sad news were none of the flights went to Cebu, so we cancelled it and asked for the refund but they said the refund would take 8 months so we ask the voucher so we can use it going back to the US next year (Like last week of January or around February). So, we booked another flight that will goes straight to CEBU and we found EVA AIR airlines.
Here are a step by step narration of our travel experience to serve as a guide to Filipino-Americans wanting to fly to the Philippines but uncertain of the procedures and requirements.
1. Who can travel to the Philippines?
As our flight date - Oct. 07, 2020, only DUAL citizens (ex. US and PH), Filipino passport holders, and foreign passport holders with a Philippine visa like my husband had a 13A permanent resident card (including spouses and children of Filipinos) are allowed to enter the Philippines or to make sure to get a pre-approved visa from the Philippines consulate.
TIP: Always contact your airline to ask for the current entry requirements. Rules can quickly change.
Check this website also for more info in travelling to the Philippines
2. Are there needed pre-departure preparations?
a) Look at the list of accredited hotels for the 2 days quarantine requirement while waiting for the mandatory swab test result. Book the hotel and arrange for a hotel pickup service (you can also hire an airport shuttle, but we found it more convenient to book the transport ahead) prior to flying to the Philippines.
TIP: Book the hotel and arrange for transport service early. Airport officials verify hotel bookings. You cannot leave the airport without a verified hotel and transportation.
b) As early as 3 days before departure, complete the required for Airline form which will produce the needed barcode upon arrival in Cebu. Visit the Philippine Consulate website for more details on non-OFW arrival requirements.
TIP: Complete the registration as early as possible. We completed the registration in Phoenix (at home to make it easier for us) Save the QR code generated to avoid delays and for faster processing when in Cebu
c) Purchase a FACE SHIELD. A face shield is required by Cebu Airport. But always check your Airlines procedures (We do not use the face shield when we are in the Airlines)
3. Check-In Procedures
a) EVA Air representative will ask for your PH passport, certificate of reacquisition of citizenship or PH visa in order to travel to the Philippines.
Their are Forms will be provided shortly after takeoff for completion prior to landing. COMPLETE THE FORMS:
Health Declaration Card
Case Investigation Form (Red Cross)
Affidavit of Undertaking
IATF Declaration Form
5. Landing and Arrival
BE PATIENT. Do not immediately stand up and get your bags. There are new protocols prior to allowing you out of the plane.
Upon arrival, there will be two separated sections – OFW and Non-OFW. We are sharing our sharing and writing about our non-OFW arrival experience.
a) Immigration. We were directed to proceed to the Immigration Check. We presented both our passports and both passports were stamped with arrival stamps.
b) Passengers will be asked to sit at the gate area (row by row) for the payment of the required Swab Test. Passengers must have their Registration QR code before payment.
c) Payment of Swab Test. Passport will be requested and boarding pass. QR code will be scanned and information verification will be conducted. Swab test was Php4,900.00 ($101.34 that day, depending on exchange rate) Cash or credit card can be used for payment. After payment, a receipt and 3 stickers will be given.
d) Swab Test. Passport will be requested. QR code will be scanned and stickers must be given. 3 uncomfortable swabs will be performed - mouth and then both nostrils will be swabbed. We immediately received an e-mail confirming that a specimen record was created for me and to expect the results in 24-48 hours. (Us was like 18 hours)
e) Baggage Claim Area. After Immigration, I was not allowed to get my luggage yet. I was directed to proceed to the Hotel Verification area. There, I presented my Hotel and Transportation Reservation.
f) Baggage Pick-Up. Passengers were no longer waiting by the carousel for the bags. Airport porters have all the bags lined up already and they get the bags for the passengers.
g) Transportation. We gave the hotel name to them. They called out for the driver from that hotel. Hotel driver came forward, took our cart, loaded our bags to the car and we were off to the hotel.
During the check-in process, I was informed of their COVID-19 protocol. I was told that I cannot leave the hotel until I receive a negative result. My reservation included meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Chairs were setup outside each hotel room. Staff members leave the food on the chair outside the room to minimize contact with the quarantined passengers. We waited for almost 18 hours to get the negative results for our swab test.
We hope this was helpful. Keep in mind, rules can quickly change. Contact your airline for an up to date information on travelling to the Philippines.