Hey there! First thing, Happy New Year! ✨
If you follow me on my socials, you would know that I spent the holidays back home in the Philippines. The last time I was home was last Christmas. The Covid restrictions and requirements then and now different so I’m writing this to guide people who are planning to travel to my home country.
Disclaimer: This is based on my personal experience flying LAX-MNL-DVO with Philippine Airlines. Information is updated as of posting. It’s best to check your destination’s official website and your airline.
International Flight: Los Angeles, USA to Manila, Philippines
- Negative RT-PCR Test Result taken 72 hours before departure.
- Hotel Reservation Confirmation for the required duration of your mandatory hotel quarantine.
- Registration to the Philippine One Health Pass
I got my RT-PCR Test at a Sameday Health Clinic. It’s free for those with insurance and is $175 for those who don’t. The standard turnaround time is within 24 hours but if you want the results in less than an hour, you just add a $75 rush fee. They have clinics in several states in the US and they also offer house calls for a fee.
Hotel Quarantine for all unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals are required 7 days of hotel quarantine. Individuals from the Green List countries are required 3 days, Red List – 7 days, Yellow List – 5 days. Arriving individuals from the Red List countries are strictly for Filipinos only. Yellow list countries are the ones not listed as either green or red. You can check the complete country list here. When counting for the number of days fro your reservation, Day 1 is the arrival date, regardless of time. It’s not 24 hours x number of days. More on this later.
The hotel quarantine should be at your port of entry. Example, If I flew direct to Davao, I would need to quarantine in Davao. But because I entered the country via Manila, I have to quarantine in Manila even though I have a connecting flight to Davao. I will discuss rebooking information later on. The list of accredited quarantine hotels are found here.
To register for your One Health Pass, just fill up this form. Make sure you have your vaccination card and test result when you register because you need to upload them to the system. The One Health Pass QR Code is checked at every station from arriving at the airport.
Station 1: QR check. There are people there to help if you don’t know how to do the QR, there are also charging stations (at least in NAIA 2, I’m not sure with the other terminals).
Station 2: Hotel Confirmation. They will scan your QR code and ask for your confirmation. This is how they know where to find you on the swabbing day. If you arrive without a hotel confirmation, there are hotel desks there and you can book your accommodations. But it’s limited to the availability of the hotels that are at the desks, not as much options as booking it online.
Station 3: Swab Registration. The testing lab scans your QR code and then you go. The other steps are done at your own pace, but make sure to check your email (the one you registered with the One Health Pass. The testing lab will send an email about the testing fee and modes of payment. After payment, they will ask for your room number because they will come to your hotel room on swabbing day.
After these stations, it the same process – you go through immigration and baggage claim, and then go outside to either meet with you hotel transfer or get a taxi. No private cars are allowed to take passengers to their hotels.
Hotel Quarantine in Manila
I chose to stay with Sheraton Manila Bay. I stayed with them for my hotel quarantine last Christmas and the service is great so I decided to stay with them again this year. They are very strict about their covid protocols and the staff you speak with on the phone are very friendly. They have a special quarantine rate that includes full board meals and they call you with options every time so you’re not gonna be stuck with food you won’t like. This is not an ad, just wanna flex coz they’re amazing.
Anyway, if you have a connecting flight with Philippine Airlines like me, THIS IS IMPORTANT. You don’t have to reschedule your flight before you fly. I didn’t wanna pay the no-show fee or forfeit my flight to Davao so I rescheduled my flight before I flew out of LA. WRONG MOVE. I was told later on that they actually waive the no-show fee for connecting flights and rebooking fee is waived as long as you rebook your flight at least 48 hours before your new flight. All you have to pay is the flight difference. I did not know this so I paid the flight difference AND the rebooking fee, so I’m telling you this now. Schedule your RT-PCR first and then book your connecting flight.
When should you schedule your domestic flight? This is where I messed up. So, Day 1 of the quarantine is your arrival date and swabbing is on the 5th day for 5 day quarantine (7th day for 7 day quarantine). I didn’t count my arrival day as Day 1 and I thought test results are usually released within 24 hours so I’d fly out the day after I get tested. I ended up booking Day 7. When I got the email for the test payment and schedule, there is an option for a 4am testing with an 8-hour turnaround time (not 24), with no extra charge. So I got swabbed on Day 5 at 4am and I got the result at around 12 noon. I found a flight to Davao at 3:40 so I rebooked my flight again. It’s a flight leaving in less than 48 hours so I had to pay for the rebooking fee and the flight fare difference, which is bigger because it’s booked the same day. The PAL customer service felt bad for me and this is when she told me what I told you in the last paragraph. Again, schedule your RT-PCR first then book your connecting flight. Is it cheaper to stay 2 more nights at the hotel than pay extra for the flight? It’s about the same. But would I pay more to be in a hotel room alone or pay more to be home with family? That’s a dumb question, of course I’ll choose home, so I flew out that day.
Domestic: Manila, Philippines to Davao, Philippines
When I flew to Davao City, the only requirement was a valid ID. But note that the quarantine is 14 days from date of arrival into the country (10 days if arriving from Green List countries), so if you have spent 5 days in hotel quarantine, you should be staying at home fo the next 9 days (5 days for Green) to complete the full quarantine period.
There you have it! That’s everything I know (and wish I knew) about flying into the Philippines. I hope this helps you plan your trip to my beautiful home country. Enjoy!