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Monday, May 17, 2010

Chennai Airport ... Source of inferiority complex.

May be I should have named this article as "Improvement tips for Chennai Airport" to make it sound more constructive. But it does not matter as long as the airport development team is not going to read this blog.

Rule 1: Expand by a factor of X.
I think there has to be concept of space in the right sense among people who are developing infrastructure in India.

  • Increase the width of all the door by a factor of 3. People are squeezing in like rats to pass through most of the doors.
  • Increase the baggage belt length by a factor of 2 and width by a factor of 1.5.
  • Waiting area should be increased by a factor of three.

Rule 2: Slow and steady may win the race but baggage delivery is not a race.

The baggage conveyor belts (each of them) were probably built under 3 different contracts with no smooth handover between each other. By design the baggage belt would test the fragility of the items. I felt really bad when few LCD TVs on the belt were tumbling down from the 2 feet ramp that is absolutely redundant. It was a killing 50 minutes wait time before I could collect my baggages.

Other suggestions:

1. The 50 minute wait time could have been less killing had the mobile coverage with Data connectivity been stable. Seeing all the ads outside the airport of Uninor, Airtel, Reliance and Tatas, I am wondering if the telecom companies should focus more on quality of  networks than marketing the "Would be quality".

2. "Fast track" taxi service drivers should be trained not to take the literal meaning of the company name while driving. More importantly:

  • "Fast" conveys safe yet quick and not rash.
  • "Track"  - They are not driving in race tracks. 

My driver literally got both my shoulders squeezing with each other and teeth tittering when he decided to squeeze between a tanker and a bus rising his speed from 80 to 120 kmph when I was thinking there is only space for just an auto to go through.

I was thanking god that he did not design mankind with genitals between the shoulders and had it been that way there would have been a clear case of "accidental Laproscopic tubectomy / vasectomy" in a moving car. 

3. The walk to the taxi stand from the terminal is quite adventurous. I am not sure why there is no basic sense in the planners that all passengers with their trolleys would have to cross the road risking injury but more importantly causing a jam / delaying the traffic. Actually many airports like Delhi also share the same design and Chennai is not alone in this aspect.

4. Number of snack bars and variety has to be exponentially increased. In the whole of the airport I could not find a snack bar where I could buy a Horlicks or hot chocolate for my kids.

5. Interestingly I saw an option for leg massage in the motorised chair at Rs. 50/- for five minutes in Chennai airport. While I have not noticed this option in any other airports in India, I should say that few massage chairs are available in Changi airport free of cost to travellers. 

Rule 3: Not just love thy neighbour but learn from them too. BIAL - Its a classic case of poor planning and execution.
The next day on 16th May when I landed in Bangalore airport from Chennai with my family on Sunday night, we were very tired since the 9pm flight was delayed by an hour and Adityaa was running intermittent fever. Just as we landed much to the dismay and surprise we say a huge queue outside Bangalore airport all waiting for Taxi. It was an agonizing wait for 45 minutes till 11.45pm on a sunday night with 2 trolleys of luggage and both kids half asleep.

This wait for Taxi is becoming a regular feature in Bangalore airport as its nothing but poor planning of the highest order. Either the Taxi operators or the Bangalore airport operators should be heavily penalized for such lapses in planning or they should add more taxi operators to the existing list.

While none of the above issues are anything new and few of us having a travel dependent work life have been putting up with all this. Probably I was mentally tired and could not take it on the last 2 days, may be I was travelling and used to services of Changi Airport, may be I had higher expectations from Indian airports and just refused to accept the realistic quality. 

Should I add that where there was a government staff like security, customs etc, I found them to be increasingly courteous, professional and service delivered is quicker.

Chennai airport is under renovation and I just wish that they do better planning and execution than what is seen and observed now.

While I wish the development authority good luck, I am already planning my next domestic travel this week but I am filled with extreme sense of inferiority complex and sense of let down on infrastructure development in India.

May the quality of services perpetually increase along with the expectations!

Happy reading!  

PS; After about 4 weeks of vacation for wife and kids from me, it was nice to see the increasing noise levels and a messy house with play things strewn all over. I think I was thoroughly missing them and the noise level in the house. :) 

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