Scanners or Scammers in NAIA
I would like to share my experience before when arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from Dubai, UAE.
I had one big red trolley bag filled with “pasalubongs” (homecoming gifts) and some personal stuff. After getting checked at the Immigration counter, I went straight to the conveyor. After several rounds and almost an hour of waiting, I still didn’t see my bag. I noticed an exactly the same bag left but I know that it isn’t mine (mine has a distinctive security belt around it). When the passengers were all gone, I was convinced that somebody took my luggage by mistake, probably the owner of the bag that’s still on the conveyor.
I reported it to the airline counter staff and they phoned the number on the bag. The airline staff we’re just calm and relax about it while I try to keep my cool. They didn’t see me agitated because I know that my bag is still around the airport complex. Then one staff told me it’s okay, a lady mistook it as hers and that I should remain calm. They thought I was mad of what happened but really, I was not. Although I must admit that in almost an hour of waiting for the lady to come back with my bag, so many thoughts were playing inside my head. They told me the lady is on her way back to the airport. So, she had left the airport vicinity already? That fast? I asked myself, “isn’t this just a gimmick by the staff to make such a scenario and then in the end, they’ll ask me for something in exchange of the effort they put in retrieving my bag”? Maybe they just brought my bag somewhere secret and scanned it if it has something of their interest, something valuable. I thought of this because countless stories and reports have already came out about how greedy, predator and scammer these airport staff are. Not all, but some. Let me repeat, not all but some of these airport staff.
Finally they told me to go to the office of the airline. There I saw my bag and the lady who took it, who by the way is too fresh for a traveller. I mean, I don’t see her as a homecoming OFW like me who is tired and exhausted. Anyway, I didn’t say anything to the lady and just thanked the staf instead. But they replied with “sir, wala bang pamasko dyan”?
Boom! There you go. Automatically I refused to give them anything, not even a penny of my hard earned money. Their reply only confirmed my doubts earlier. What I did instead, I took out my pen and asked for their names and told them that what they did is commendable and that this incident will reach the airline management. Lol! I outsmarted them, I think.
Days from now, I will be travelling back home again; with my wife this time. Instead of having two trolleys, I decided to have one in a box. I put most of our things in a box. I wrapped it with packing tape, scotch tape and a rope to secure it even more. I’m quite sure no other box will be similar to mine now. 🙂
Also, for trolleys, airport staff could easily tell you to open it, tell you that this and that are not allowed blah blah blah. Like what happened to a couple friends of ours two months ago. An airport staff said they should leave several bottles of perfumes because these are not allowed and flammable. My friend argued that it even passed long-haul intenational flights, how much more in the domestic flight that will be travelling for just less than an hour. The staff insisted and told them that if they want to keep their stuff, they just have to hand him some amount. Our friends were taken aback by this person’s audacity. How dare him to ask for bribe! He even advised my friend to just be discreet about it as there are cameras around. Although pissed and because our friends were both tired already (the wife is pregnant by the way), they checked their wallets and unfortunately, they didn’t have any smaller bills and they haven’t gone to the money exchange yet, so they gave a 100 Dirhams note to this shameless airport officer just to end the ordeal. But it didn’t just end there! The airport officer took more guts by complaining “just a 100 note? Our friends were furious and retorted “that’s not 100 Pesos, that’s 100 Dirhams!” Unbelievable right? That’s how scammer they are, again not all of them.
What I think now, aside from this safety box preparation, I’ll try to set my BlackBerry voice recorder in case I encounter this kind of scam. Better to be prepared.
Despite all these, I still and will forever love my country. These are just minute information among the enormous beautiful things in the Phillipines.
After all, “it’s still more fun in the Philippines” – DOT