Wednesday, July 16, 2008

International Airports in India

This year has been a year to go around towns and cities for personal / business trips. I believe, Amit and I are a little too hooked to air travel and hence prefer that for personal trips even if it is expensive. Old habits don't go away easily !!

First airport that I used was to HAL Airport, Bangalore. A typical old time airport that needed a make-over! Nothing more to write here (and now not relevant either since it is closed down for civil operations).

The next one was Pune Airport. This is small and cramped one. It stands by its "military aiport" status. Though there are a couple of international flights operating from this airport (and many more starting soon), Pune airport lacks the infrastructure to handle the operations on passenger front. Guess it is the same for flight operations.

The third one I went to was Nagpur airport. While being positioned as a cargo hub, this needs to move faster towards completion. Construction was on at all places, no arrangements for security of passengers and other people on the airport. On a positive note, it is very neat just like the city. Since there are not many flights coming and going, all formalities are quick and smooth. Hope it remains this way even after there is an increase in the traffic.

From Nagpur, I traveled over to the Shamsabad Airport in Hyderabad - an artistically built airport giving a good first-impression. However, the impression did not remain all that good once we entered in. A huge check-in hall followed by failed security check equipment, followed by good waiting hall and walk-way that led to a departure hall that was incomplete, leaking water (from god-knows-where!!). Since I was there on its first day of operations, I would discount these unpleasant scenes as starting-blues and hope it is now all set. Any reviews?

Mumbai airport is one of the best that I've been to so far. It is small (for the crowd that comes there) but beautiful. It has a hell lot of crowd but is managed well. There is construction going on but security of the people taken care of.

And returning from a business trip, I landed on the Bengaluru International Airport. Considering the urge to start it asap and the push to open without connectivity to the city ready, I was hoping it to a fantastic one (what a fool I was !). It turned out to be just better than HAL Airport ! The arrival lounge is too cramped, no improvement at immigration counters except that there were more counters (though closed). Baggage handling was bad and worst were the rest rooms! What an impression we give to tourists! Keeping my optimism on, I was hoping that this was just another case of teething trouble (I landed on this airport on the day it became operational) and things would line up for better soon. But alas, situation is still the same.

When I started this post (it has taken me almost 6 months to complete this one), I was wondering if our airports can get better. But now I think, is it worth traveling by air given the increased cost?

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