Monday, May 07, 2007

Flying domestic in des

It was ages since I had been to Bangalore's domestic airport. Recently, we had to make a quick trip out of Bangalore and chose to fly. I was pleasantly surprised to see a whole different airport than what I remember of it from the 90s, when I had been there last. The whole airport was quite clean and fairly organised. Now, we went on a Wednesday afternoon when it is least likely to be crowded, so I have no idea how it is on weekends and other peak hours. I have heard people liken it to local bus-stands!!

Now a days, there are many airlines competing to ferry the masses within India. There's Air Deccan, Kingfisher, GoAir, Jet Airways. Some of these operate very cheap, like the SouthWest airlines in the US. So, a lot of people are able to afford and travel by air. Not to forget, a lot of people make a decent dough to afford it too. All of this, a good thing. I got this pic on the right in a forwarded email from a friend and couldn't believe the billboard competition in the sky, literally. Just goes to show how much of a market there is for flying here.
Image Courtesy: Forwarded Email

After getting off of the taxi, this is the domestic terminal we came to.
The waiting lounges all along the gates. This was more than sufficient on a Wednesday afternoon, but I really wondered how it would be on a Fri evening or Sat morning, especially because of the comparison of the airport to a bus-stand.
The air conditioning worked moderately, so the temps were on the warmer side. I prefer it that way, than see tons of energy being spent to keep everybody cold when it is quite hot outside.

A small shop for snacks. It has definitely lost the look of the old government-type coffee shops.
Unfortunately, I didn't use the restrooms to see how they were. After all, in an Indian government setup, I think, the restrooms say it all. :)

The view from the waiting lounge.
The waiting 'Kingfishers'. Kingfisher is not a low-cost airline and chooses to keep it quite nice for its customers. We flew Kingfisher and were impressed with their timing, service, and their overall working ability. The insides of the Kingfishers are pretty good too and makes flying a pleasant experience.
As we took off, here's a shot of good ol' Bangalore.
There's of course the new Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) coming up in Devanahalli. And when that becomes functional, the current HAL Bangalore International Airport is going to shut shop. I hope they put the existing airport space to good use then. Personally, I would love it if they continue to use the existing set-up for a domestic airport. However, that is not going to happen. Now, what remains to be seen is how we are all going to get to the airport that is all the way in Devanahalli, especially when some of us have to only take a 45 min flight to someplace. Yes, they are planning on an elevated exclusive expressway to the airport. We will see! We have to also account for the time lost in security checks, boarding, alighting, etc. It maybe wiser to just drive down to these towns and cities than fly! What with the freeways being quite good?!

18 comments:

nags said...

I never knew that they are going to close down the existing Airport. I thought it will serve as Domestic Airport. If they close it and if one has to travel to Devanahalli for Domestic flights, it is going to be nightmare with the existing road!

Ravi said...

Dont forget that, everytime we fly, we are actually paying for the cost of these upgradations. Airport tax / PSF fee etc. take care of these.
Also, we have to thank the high standards of the private airlines as their coming on the scene has forced the government to accept ( indirectly ) the abysmal quality of its airlines / our airports and ramp them up to international standards. Hope these continue....

Anonymous said...

FYI Chits, Kingfisher's working model is in line with Virgin Atlantic - Classy !

Anonymous said...

In India weekend flying is not as popular as in the US, so Fridays and weekends will not be particularly different from what you saw mid week.

Chitra said...

Nags, that they call the new airport 'International' misleads you into believing that it is not domestic. However, this will be the only airport for Bangalore. Apparently, some conflict of interests if they retain the existing one as domestic.

Ravi, yes we pay for it all. I am just glad that that money is actually being put into use. That in itself is kinda hard for me to believe. Privatisation always helps. It is wonderful that we have competition.

Anon A, yep. Kingfisher is living up to the standards. :)

Anon B, things are changing in India. What you talk about was the case sometime ago, however with the airlines slashing the prices, especially such airlines as the Air Deccan, there are lot more people flying now. Air Deccan offers tickets at Rs. 3, 6, 9 etc every now and then. This encourages everybody to book in advance to places they didn't even plan on visiting! Of course, you have to pay the taxes etc and each ticket comes up to Rs. 2000/- or so, but a lot of them don't seem to mind this. It may not be like the US, but it is definitely not like the India of the past.

pandit said...

I like the ad campaign photo...Why the Indian Airlines is missing..I would imagine they will put "We don't want to change" in the ad!!

Gopal said...

Hi,

Nice blogs. By the way the present airport belongs to HAL/Indian AirForce and therefore will revert back to their use.

Gopal

Natasha said...

Hi Chitra... Ur blogs are really too gooooood.... Keep up the good work!! As I had said earlier, this blog is also gives me a feeling as if u r speaking to me abt the airport!! Expectin more and more from u!!

Vijay said...

Peak hours at the airport are early mornings... thats when all the business travellers are heading out...

Gets really really crowded when the delays keep adding up especially in winter.. Fog delays in Delhi for instance delay flights all across...

Chitra said...

Pandit, LOL. Welcome to my blog.

Gopal, thanks! Welcome to my blog. Yes, looks like HAL will make use of the space. I was hoping the public will get to use it, since a lot of work has already gone into it.

Natasha, thanks! That IS some compliment. :)

Vijay, aah! Figures! Thanks for the input.

SloganMurugan said...

The new airport should be running by 2008 end. :)

Latha said...

Hey Chitra,
This is my first time here. Though I have read your posts on metro blogs bangalore. I love your blog! You have a nice writing style. And probably the most important factor that makes me love your blog is that even I dream to R2I to Bangalore within the next year or 2. I have been following a lots of R2I websites and blogs more closely lately. I'm glad i found yours! Hope to learn form and share some of your experiences!
Keep up the good work!
Cheers
Latha

Chitra said...

Sloganmurugan, welcome to my blog. Wonder when the expressway will actually open?! Without the expressway, the Airport cannot possibly function.

Latha, welcome to my blog. Thanks! Please email me if you have any topic suggestions for the blog.

silkboard said...

When exactly did you take these aiport lounge pics Chitra!? I travel 3-4 times a month, and never find them so empty. Must be 1-2 pm types on a Wednesday types!

Seeing you do so well with R2I type posts here, being a 2 year old r2i'er, I am so tempted to write about r2I type things myself!

Chitra said...

SB, yes around 1-2 pm on a Wednesday.

About R2I posts, that will be great! I have had the most fun writing this blog! :)

bachodi said...

I like coffeeday in domestic air post. They give me pleasant service whenever i go , and refuse tips ;-)

Chitra said...

Welcome to my blog, Bachodi! I think I 'seen' you on some of our other common blog hangouts. :)

Anonymous said...

I am flying in to Bangalore from Dubai landinat 5:15 PM an dhave a AIr Deccan flight to Mumbai at 7 PM how far are teh international and domestic airports? can I make it?