BANGALORE: World’s Worst International Airport?

A. MADHAVAN writes: I have read recent complaints about the Bangalore International Airport, but did not believe how bad it was until I went through it.

Trundling in our laden trolley through a narrow dirt path beside construction works, a uniformed porter led my wife and me into the international terminal.

Through a miasma of gritty dust and smelly smoke we saw two officials perched on a low ledge in the cavernous hall. They curtly asked us to go to the domestic terminal and sit on our trolley till the counters opened.

We had been vastly relieved to reach the airport from Mysore by 7.30 p.m. on April 12, with Bangalore still eerie from the destructive spree by the ‘mourners’ for Raj Kumar. Our Indian Airlines flight was scheduled for just past midnight.

In the domestic hall we found a milling crowd and a companion cloud of mosquitoes.

We grabbed two just-vacated seats and stayed put till 9 p.m. Our porter had gone, promising to return and see us into the departure lounge, even declining my proffered tip. He did not return.

We got another man to help us carry our luggage to the departure area upstairs. We joined a winding queue of trolleys and outward bound passengers.

One family had despaired of getting a taxi to the airport and had been saved by calling up an obliging friend to give them a lift. The security check for the luggage x-ray started half-an-hour late. There was no announcement and no apology by ‘Indian’ (which has shed ‘Airlines’ in its name).

Some passengers muscled in ahead, by prior ‘arrangement’ with the staff.

The check-in was another test of patience. The computer-savvy assistants were inexplicably slow to complete procedures, and push in the boxes with the right labels, slower than in any previous airport where I have checked in, slower than in the pre-computer era.

Then came the scramble for filling up the emigration forms and passport checks. Though relatively efficient, our government’s official surprisingly asked a young Indian to show his letter of invitation from abroad before letting him through, as if India should be solicitous on behalf of the foreign country which had issued a visa to him.

Perhaps there was an element of bureaucratic one-up-man-ship in it.

The next ordeal was the queue, a queue winding four lengths, to the security check for the hand baggage and frisking. One of the x-ray machines was out of order. So the wait was that much longer.

When we got through to the departure lounge, we had spent a good two hours on our feet.

Bangalore International must be among the worst in terms of facilities, airline ground-staff service and self-awareness of what it needs to do. It is no consolation to passengers going in or out to hear that the city is building a brand new airport.

It is not the grand buildings and the glittering shops with consumer goodies at fancy prices that count so much as the awareness of travellers’ needs by the administrators and the airlines that can make a real difference for the passenger, who, after all, has to pay a sizeable tax on the ticket to Abroad.

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Have more horror tales about Bangalore “International” Airpor? Drop a comment.