The new Bangalore Airport has been written about & talked about a lot largely due to the fact that it is far off from the city. A not so positive point that but then the fact is The Bangalore Airport is up & running. Flights are taking off & landing, getting delayed & canceled. I was there a day after the inauguration and came back…well…read on…
First facts, yes the Bangalore International Airport is far from the city. This fact is so drilled into all of us by now that I suppose we are so mentally tuned to a long travel & starting off well in advance. Once the mental tuning is done the ride becomes that much more bearable. Largely the road from the Hebbal flyover is wide & good so a good car should be able to travel 80-100 km/hr. It took us about an hour to get to the Airport from Commercial Street that Saturday evening.
I really don’t know what a layman should expect from an Airport or from a new Airport for that matter. And especially for someone like me who doesn’t travel around by flights then it is once again of very little significance. But all the hype of the new Airport mostly for the wrong reasons got me curious & I wanted to be there & check it out functioning. Luckily, Brother was off to the US so we went there to see him off.
Only the passengers are allowed entry in to the terminal building while those who travel with the passengers to see them off basically have to hang outside the terminal building. Entry inside is allowed only in the Arrival section. That said the facilities for people who go all the way there to see off someone are not great at all. The Terminal building is all glass & completely see-through type. So the only activity for most people who go there to see someone off is to follow the progress being made by their traveler in the check in queue. Apart from doing that we looked around for two things. One, some place where we could sit & two, for the toilet. Both were not to be seen. When we enquired with some uniformed facility management chaps their answer was, ‘there is no toilet outside’. That definitely had to be wrong. How could BIAL miss out on something as basic as that? Some more enquiries and we got the directions. We had to walk about 500 meters from the Terminal building for the toilet. And honestly there was nothing International about this toilet, at least in its maintenance. It is very Indian & very local.
I was keen to know how different can an ‘International Airport’ be from an ‘Airport’. I mean really what can be the difference? Well this is what I realized. There is no difference. An Airport is an Airport. And that’s pretty much it. For all those of us who hang out a lot at the malls in Bangalore, we are already used to the escalators, glow signs, uniformed facility management chaps, colorful chairs in the food zones, the organized parking & so on & so forth. The Bangalore International Airport is no different. But yes where the Bangalore International Airport can learn something from the Mall’s facility management chaps is in the maintenance of the toilets. One other area where they can take tips from a mall is in putting up some displays as to where the toilets are. I guess the kind of people who make malls & airports are the same. Because at both places you cant sit.
But yes where the feel of International comes in according to me is in the fact that you don’t see any autos & two wheelers around (I didn’t see any two wheelers at the air port that day but can’t confirm if they are not allowed there). Another area where you get a feel of International is in the size of the entire thing. It’s big & especially so when it’s compared to the previous HAL Airport. Despite these stand out features where it probably lacks in the International tag is Security. It does seem relaxed. Even the area next to the terminal building where some flights are parked can be clearly seen from the distance. The flights are only about a stone’s throw away. One other area where some improvement would be great is in the food area. Is darshini type food or South Indian food per se not International? Why is it that we get more North Indian & the burger/sandwich type fare there than South Indian? Where is the promotion of local culture there
To sign off on a good note there is one good thing and that too with the most dreaded aspect about the airport, the connectivity. One can rest assured about the connectivity. BMTC has buses every half hour & round the clock. We took a BMTC Volvo well past mid night. This definitely is more cost effective & convenient but only to get into the city. From there you will have to rely on the auto or a taxi again. Other wise of course there are taxi services round the clock as well at the airport.