Posted on March 09, 2021
*** Note: As of this writing, Metro Manila is under GCQ- General Community Quarantine.***
Last January, I traveled on a domestic flight for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Here, I am sharing my experiences and my domestic travel requirements Philippines.
DOMESTIC FLIGHT REQUIREMENTS FROM METRO MANILA (point of origin):
Step 1. Get MEDICAL CERTIFICATE from my designated barangay health center.
The purpose of the medical certificate is to certify that I am fit to travel and that I am not a suspect, probable, or confirmed COVID-19 case on the list. NO COVID TESTING WAS DONE. I was only required to complete around 3 with back pages of health form questionnaires. Then, to check for underlying medical conditions, I had a random glucose test and blood pressure measurement. As we all know that pre-existing illnesses, e.g., hypertension and diabetes, are at risk for COVID 19.
How long will it take to get a barangay health certificate? I processed it for one day only. I went there around 9 AM, and I got my medical certificate at around 3 PM. First come, first serve, no appointment allowed. But, I would suggest for you to call your assigned barangay health clinic to check the doctor’s availability. My experience was that I went to the clinic on a day that the doctor was out, so I returned the day after.
Step 2. Get a Barangay Certificate.
After I got my barangay medical certificate, I then headed to my barangay for the said certificate. The certificate serves as a clearance, double confirming the medical report that I am not a suspect, probable, contact, or confirmed case of my barangay.
How long will it take to get a barangay certificate? Of all the travel documents you need to obtain, this one is the fastest to process- less than 45 minutes.
Step 3. Get a Travel Pass, Travel Authority, or COVID SHIELD c/o Police Station.
The most common question I would often hear from my fellow domestic travelers was this: What is a COVID shield? Is there a difference between a Travel Pass and a COVID shield? The answer is NO.
Travel Pass, Travel Authority, and Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID shield are all the same. This document is issued only by the City Police Station.
How long will it take to get a Travel Pass or COVID Shield?
I went there almost 4 PM on the same day I completed the process of my medical certificate and barangay clearance, and it was already their cut off time. So, I would say, give a 1-whole day allowance.
Overall, how long will it take to process all the Philippine domestic travel requirements? I'd say secure all the travel requirements at least four days in advance.
Domestic Travel Requirements from my LGU of destination (MGCQ)
I traveled as an APOR (authorized person outside of residence). My destination is in the province of Molave, a 45-minute drive from Pagadian, my domestic airport of arrival.
I secured an acceptance letter from the mayor of Molave, which is my provincial host. The letter specified the plate number of my private vehicle that would fetch me from the airport of Pagadian City heading to Molave. It also stated a non-reactive rapid test result requisite.
Travel Requirements from the Province (MGCQ) to Metro Manila (GCQ)
I secured a Barangay Certificate stating the purpose of my travel, which was back to work. Then, I obtained a health certificate from the municipal health of Molave and a police COVID shield from the local police office.
I also processed a barangay acceptance letter from my area in Metro Manila.
Note: I arrived at NAIA terminal 2, and I was surprised to know that booking for a grab taxi was not possible (or maybe it was like this before the pandemic). Instead, I took an airport taxi on my way home from NAIA Terminal 2 arrival.
PAL Requirements at the NAIA DOMESTIC AIRPORT and LGU Airport this COVID pandemic
Secure first a barangay medical certificate, after which, get a barangay certificate. Then, present the said two documents to the city police to obtain a travel pass.
I took the Philippine Airlines domestic flight.
I do, however, want to utilize my travel voucher, but according to PAL’s twitter response, if I would like to use my travel voucher, I would have to call their hotline first at 632-8855-8888. When I called their hotline, it wasn't available 24/7, and it so happened that I urgently needed to book my flight.
A bit of information: passengers of Philippine Airlines (PAL), who had canceled flights early COVID pandemic, were given the option to convert the affected booking to a travel voucher instead of a refund. Knowing now its inconvenience to claim, I should have chosen to get my money back. Lesson learned.
I voluntarily got myself COVID tested.
On the other hand, I asked PAL several times if they require COVID test pre-boarding my domestic flight, but none of PAL's representatives can provide a direct answer, only a link, which would also not enlighten your doubt: is a negative COVID test result needed upon plane boarding or is COVID test required pre-domestic departure.
Upon arrival, I coordinated first with the provincial tourism department, then with the Local Department of Health of Molave to get myself tested- as my acceptance letter clearly states that I should have a negative result against the virus.
As long as the laboratory testing facility is DOH-accredited. I got my rapid test in a DOH-recognized hospital laboratory because one of PAL’s testing site partners, nearer to my location, ran out of testing kits.
However, PAL offers a discount price and priority on the waiting list to their passengers.
One of the medical technicians, whom I had spoken over the phone, said that the type of COVID test would depend on what PAL requires me based on my flight destination per LGU (none of PAL’s support team could provide me this clear answer).
I did not pay for an extra seat on my Philippine airlines' domestic flight, nor did they require me to pay for two plane seats to keep up with the social distancing.
Neither was there a one-seat apart or a shield in-between plane seats. However, wearing of face mask and face shield on-flight at all times is mandatory.
During my domestic flight, I used the classic blue surgical face mask.
That said, I noticed that there were some PAL passengers wearing valve mask during my flight. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) does not recommend this type of mask as it can transmit respiratory droplets through the valve.