Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Mumbai airport - the worst one for international to domestic transfer

Mumbai airport - the worst one for international to domestic transfer.

It was a horrid time for me and Jayanthi when we landed at Mumbai airport en route to Bangalore on 2nd August morning. We travelled from Riyadh to Bangalore on 1st and 2nd of August, 2013 through Jet Airways with a transfer at Mumbai.

There can never be a stupid system like the one in Mumbai in any international airport where everyone is treated worse than cattle. Shashi tharoor was correct when he said cattle class.

In the early hours of the day many airlines land in Mumbai and especially the Jet airways counter was awful. Terminal 2B and baggage casserole was a mess. But this is a shade better when you compare the immigration. Many flights land in the wee hours with lots of connecting flights to the domestic destinations with a gap of 2 to 3 hours. But to our surprise we could find only 4 counters where the clearance was taking place. With all the yawning and morning customary, cordial wishes and 'good mornings' the queue moved at snail's pace. You loose about 45 mts to 1 hr there.

Then you move to the baggage claim area. You should pat yourself on the back, if you could find a trolly. There are airport staff but it seems it is not their duty to bring back the empty trollies back to the queue. You go out, mind it, I mean this - past the customs with your cabin luggage on and get the trolly from the streets or outside the clearance area and collect your baggage.

If they are going to call the x-ray scanning available in immigration area as pre-emptive check, God knows what they can find? Passengers slip through the check by passing the queue, even. Then you enter the death row like chamber with a width of not more 12 feet in which at least 4 queues (if they were orderly) would be moving for the domestic transfer. You are clear winner if you can pass through that area in 30 minutes and reach the next x-ray scanning. I dunno why there should be 2 scannings when I got a scanning done just 25 feet before and no other entry for anyone other than the transit passengers.

Then take the trolly and hand it over to the Jet airways staff. Here at least I could see some responsible staff taking care of you. But that's all they can do, as all the rest of the facilities are managed by the Mumbai international Airport authorities.

Move to the point where you have to board the bus for the transfer. It's no wonder I recalled the 'irumudi ayyappa bakthargal' as every one was holding the cabin baggage on their head and have to tread a dark passage of about 25 feet, in as many lines you can count. You can hear all abusive words in all indian languages there. The airport authorities knew very well that people may miss the flights if they were not transported in time, but the sense of urgency seems to be last word for them.

You would be damn lucky and pinch yourself if you could get the transfer bus within 30 minutes of waiting. At 8:30 am I was rubbing shoulders (and body with a dose of sweat on both) with the passengers, whose domestic departure was at 8:00 am though they landed at around 5:00 am.

I managed to board the bus and reach the domestic terminal at about 8:50 and heard the final call for boarding the flight to Bangalore at 9:00 am. It was just a coincidence that I could catch the flight that day.

I looked very sheepish in the flight as I was looking like coming out of a ticket counter in a theatre where the first show of a Rajini film was just released. The air hostess must have surely thought that I landed at wrong place instead of the rural bus stand. Or probably, she must be witnessing such horrified passengers daily on that schedule. The fellow traveller just took his hands off from the hand rest when my hand accidentally touched his as he was afraid of a contagious disease catching him through me. But he was looking little awkward after seeing a Longines watch in my hand.

I swore at that time that never will I travel through this connection. But alas, I have already booked the same flight with a similar connection to Chennai in September. Oh, ****.

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