The New Bengaluru Airport

Happenstanced to Bengaluru International Airport on Sunday – the second day of its functioning. The first day of cut-over to the new airport would surely have had its challenges – as indeed the papers reported. But second day was not bad.

I guess that the drive upto Mekhri circle has its challenges, but then the drive from Hebbal flyover down the Bellary Road (NH 7) was a beauty. Except for six or seven traffic signals that halt the drive every once in a while, the drive itself is pretty cool. We did have to carefully maneuver past a few “crackers fields” – as enthusiastic election winners had taken  over parts of the highway, and had laid long rows of “10000 Waalaas” and such crackers…

A red Volvo bus overtook the little Maruti that I was in…thats the Airport shuttle service, and it looks good, inviting. Shuttles, every 20 or 30 minutes or so, ply to and fro from the new airport to nine different points of the city.

From the Hebbal flyover point to the airport, without being in a tearing hurry, took us around half an hour, including the signal-stops. Thats not bad at all. Its not as if the airport is on the other side of the earth, as was rumored.

The exit from the highway to the airport is another beauty. You take off to the left of the hghway, drive up an overpass that swerves right and zooms down to level and you ease into a nice drive of a few kms to the new airport. And then you see the ‘airport in progress’. Here is a picture of the first sight of the beginning of the new airport complex.

 ATC Tower

First impressions: It is not aesthetically designed…but looks functional…

As you approach the terminal, there are some four or five security lanes – where all cars are stopped…A guide at each point, gave a quick intro about the regulations, handed us a brochure, and waved us in…Cool…Corporatization of Airport services…

Valet parking, tiered parking areas, fixed price porter services, shuttle and taxis…for a few dollars more…

Heres a picture of the front terminal of the airport.

Terminal front

This being just the second day, couldnt find trolleys easily. Somehow managed to find one and walked in. The entrance was the usual jostle that one sees in most Indian metro aiports.

Inside the terminal, the hall was abuzz.

The good thing was that there was no need to go for x-ray of checkin baggages first. You just walk to your airlines counter and checkin. And Checkin hasnt improved though. Perhaps the number of counters is not enough. Long queues could be seen in almost all counters…

Business lounges etc are yet to be done. There were two little eateries which you can go to, after the security check point.

So, what then were the little pain points that one faced…

– The exit lane from NH7 that takes you to the airport has a security-check stop. That creates a bottleneck as this is a single lane, one car at a time, inspection point.

– The drop off lanes near the terminal are not broad enough. Creates a choke of cars.

– The approach from the drop off point to the terminal entrance can be improved.

– There dont seem to be enough security-check counters…also, the designers havent thought through the finer points…the bags that come out of the security-check x-ray unit, remain out of reach of the passengers who wait for it on the other side. It needs the security men to pick it up and hand over, and that is not their job….

– Wash rooms…Numbers, quality…

– The departure counters are also choke points. The design of the hall is such that there is no easy way to queue up to the counters, as rows of chairs have been fixed right upto the counters….Wonder who thinks these up…

– All done, when one got into the plane…it was “hot”….thats nothing to do with the airport…thats the Airlines, and in this case it was ‘Jet Airways’…for some reason, they didnt step up the Air-conditioning till the flight took off…and considering the wait-time on ground before take off, it was a ‘stew time’ (Now I know why they are called ‘Flight Stewards’🙂 ).

**

The view after take off was nice. Lots of land belongs to the aiport complex. One could see that they have planted a lot of green….One reads that Bangalore International Airport Limited has been given 4000 acres of land there – which they plan to develop as “hot” real estate….Goodbye green!

All in all: Thums up…but there is way to go…

6 Responses to “The New Bengaluru Airport”

  1. Pune Builders Says:

    Nice pictures..airport looks amazing.

  2. Pavan Says:

    never fly on day 1. (i had to)
    Horrid experience.
    Opening an airport with one place to eat must be a punishable crime.
    Taste of India is all u get and that too just a TASTE.
    Shoppers looks beautiful. I’m glad I invested in the darned company
    The self service check in kiosk still call it Bangalore.
    The check in counters take longer than anywhere in the world I have ever been to. The folks gladly admit that they are all new and have not been trained. Wonder what happened to the trained staff from the old airport
    next new airport that needs to be built, please send the team to Schipol (Amsterdam). This length wise airport is a ghastly idea.
    Gigantic Louis Vutton in the front really has me confused.
    Wifi – Yippe I have an IP. Can’t browse though – no gateway.
    The display for flight details is tiny and u need a map to find out where it is
    BIAL needs a massive UX overhaul. Looks like a typical Blore startup being dressed up for a VC funding round or an IPO.
    Please take me back to cramped small dirty but at least more efficient airports. Mumbai rocks ANYDAY

  3. Pavan Says:

    More detailed post on my travel experience

    Was there on Day 1 return from the airport to Mumbai. Here is my experience.
    DONT FLY ON DAY 1 of ANY AIRPORT
    The 8 PM Mumbai India flight boards at 9:00 PM.
    Jet and Indian board fromt he same gate with the signage reading KingFisher to Kolkatta 7:00 PM ‘Have a Nice Flight’
    The Shoppers Stop, Calvin Klein, … shops are nice. Food is NON EXISTENT
    There is one Taste of India and rightly so coz all u finally get is a Taste
    One more bar and one overworked Barista. The port guys here were begging people to get into a queue. This was the loudest harshest meanest request I have ever heard.
    The Taste of India folks had two lines to take order, 2 folks serving food and fromt he output perspective looked like there was only half a Chef (not cook – Chef)
    Jet Airways was giving folks Rs 200 vouchers for food, but our dear friends had run out of food and sadly it took them 30 minutes to inform their order taker who was 3 feet away. CHAOS. Never mess with hungry people waiting for an airline.
    In true techie fashion, we had wonderful comments such as – Make your menu digitial display. Take off items that are finished.

    The bus to the flight reached the plane and then came back to the gate cos they thought someone from a Delhi flight was on the bus.
    The passengers nearly offered the bus druver the option of driving us to Mumbai
    The stewardess was asked by at least 70% of the passengers if the flight was actually going to Mumbai
    We were stewed on the plane for 30 minutes. Dum Pukht🙂
    At 9:15 PM ‘bless his soul’ the pilot announces that we are delayed and he will try an make up for the time. An eternal optimist.
    Then they forget some important legal document which needs to be delivered. (My kids are going to be lawyers for sure. I’ve decided on that for now)
    Finally 9:45 PM we are number 2 on the take off list. The AC comes on
    10:00 PM – Anti climax – we take off

  4. bala Says:

    The pictures look good like any airport here in the US. The key for it to succeed is for people to follow the rules. The drop off point for example will work if people drop off passengers qucikly and move off. Standing in line and waiting for your turn is still an evolving phenomenon in India. After 9-11 the drop off points work well here in the US. Some airports even have a cell phone waiting area for cars that once the flight lands and they connect with the passengers, they can drive up and pick up..

    All these will work if people consitently follow the rules….

    Nice looking pictures though.

  5. Ranga Says:

    I agree with Pavan….never travel on the first day whether as a passenger or a pilot. Chaos galore! A Pilot’s Point of View…..
    1. After landing the lead out taxy ways or exit ways were not painted from runway side but were painted from lounge side which fulfilled the political requirement of readiness…not operational! I can pity the pilot landing at night!
    2. There was utter confusion regarding allocation of parking bay for us to park after landing…first allotted bay I would have telescoped into a closely parked Jet Airways..which was not supposed to be there..second attempt at giving us bay..found a King fisher ATR this time..finally I had to tell them a vacant bay that was free to allocate it myself…10 minutes
    3. After switching off the mechanised step ladder could not be seen to disembark the pax…..it arrived after 5 minutes…to set it up along the aircraft it took yet another 4 minutes….
    4. There was no fuelling bowser to be seen for nearly 30 minutes after landing…Ultimately…I hijacked one which heading aimlessly..to fuel up.
    5. There were no cabin cleaners..even though there were atleast 50 odd guys from Globe Ground which is the handling agency for aircraft…not one seemed to be doing anything useful…after a lot of looking around we found a disgruntled lot of cleaners who were already complaing about the days wage which did not reach them..got the cabin to some shape!
    6. Pax came on board after one hour…
    7.Phew!… and finally we departed after an hour and a half later..

    Green or no green… aesthetics or not…but the BIAL is not ready for use. The Govt probably foresaw what would happen in the election…they launched it…so that the credit for launch goes to no one else…????
    No offences to Bangaluriens…! Shamsabad Airport(New Hyderabad) is way ahead in all respect right from day one…our GM Rao has done a wonderful job…Long live Rao Garu..!

  6. Rishi Says:

    Am a regular tarveller (count 2-3 times amonth) between BLR HYD. Agree with the pilot that Shamsabad is a much better airport on all rational counts !

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