There has been so much hype about the inauguration of the Bengaluru International Airport. Many celebrities (some media-created, thanks to Lead India!) have vehemently called it a detrimental move and have asked for the old HAL airport to remain open. I am not getting to the merits & de-mertis of the case (perhaps, er…because I don’t know enough?). One big reason for bad-mouthing BIAL was its distance and from the city centre and the related hassles of getting there.
I had a chance to visit the new airport today – Day 1 of its formal existence! I live in Jayanagar and I was budgeting for about 90 minutes of commuting from my home by road. I was dreading being stuck at traffic signals, narrow or dug up roads. I reached the airport in 1 hour-15 minutes; pretty much the same time it takes to reach the HAL airport. And guess what, except for one signal at Hebbal, the drive was smooth. Unlike the tension one goes through at a stretch from Leela to the HAL airport.
My first impression of the approach to the airport: Wow! The flyover towards the airport seemed never ending and the airport seemed big. There was still some construction going one and one noticed airport employees directing traffic and welcoming passengers with a ‘namaste’. First day blues perhaps, but at least they are trying to impress.
There were hangers on, construction workers, media men, airport staff- all milling around the terminal. Like in all Indian airports, the alighting part is a mess. Inside, the airport looks snazzy – a huge contrast to the government-office like HAL airport. The free internet (for one hour) is a nice touch. The first impressions are nice. The loo was a mess; curious onlookers, bumpkins from nearby villages made merry there. Flight delays led to chaos and frustrated passengers. Thanks to the pre-launch hype about the distance & commuting problems, the look of passengers alighting was one of panic! They had the look of the hunted and desperately looked for the cab counters.
As for me, I had gone preparing for a chaotic experience and was pleasantly surprised. My wife’s flight from Chennai was delayed by about 2.5 hours. So between her airport trip in Chennai and my to-and-fro here, we had spent about 7 hours – all for a trip that lasts 30 minutes. Apart from the time costs add the fuel costs & frayed nerves. There is a case for alternate transport to short distances.
Nevertheless, hope they keep the airport functional and pretty in the years to come.