Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bangalore airport - user experience

last week, i had the opportunity to experience travel through the Bangalore airport.
almost three weeks after it opened, i had mixed expectations, based on media reports and what some others had to say.
the drive to the airport was surprisingly fast - it was a sunday and without much traffic, i could make the 50 km stretch in less than an hour! my estimate was at least an hour and a half.
checkin: while there were many counters, the organization was still not very efficient, and my wait at the line was longer than at teh old airport, even though i did not have any bag to check in.
the airlines lounge was not yet operational and i was asked to use one of the three restaurants.
security screenign: was very quick - more scanners and faster screning.
this gave me some more time in the departure area - with shops including a bookstore run by crossword - but it did not feel the same like Sankars at the old airport.
three restaurants, but insufficient seating made people wait for a seat.
wonder how it would be during other peak hours.
there are more departure gates, but the waiting area in front had few seats. i also noticed that teh departure diaplays were positioned in fairly obscure points - and it was not very intuitive to locate one.
when i found my gate, there were two flights - from two different carriers - that were assigned to that gate, to depart at the same time! this was while many other gates were free.
while waiting for the departure, i thought of using the free wi-fi internet connection. as per the brochure, a free 15-minute session was available for all passengers.
when i connected, the home page asked me to sms a code to a number, to get a passowrd for a 1 hour connectivity.
eager to use the exrta surfing time, i got only a response that the service was nto available yet, as a return sms! wonder why they could not have put that up on the home page itself, saving passengers the cost of an sms..
overall, the departure experience needs to improve.
the arrival:
in chennai, we were told that the incoming flight was delated due to congestion @ bangalore. the same aircraft was to return to bangalore. effectively, the delay was close to 2 hours! not sure what the reason was, but part of the blame was put on the new airport..
on landing, even though there were free aerobridges, the plane was taken to a bay a little away from the terminal.
we had to wait for about 10 minutes, while the ground staff were figuring out how to get the ladder attached to the plane. theycould not get the height right. after a couple of attempts, that was set right. these were reported as problems in the first couple of days - but looked like it continues. not sure if it is the training for the staff or the quality of equipment.
a longer walk from the arrival gate to the exit, but the additional space did not make it feel crowded.
noticed many people waiting for their luggage from earlier flights, evan at that time of the night [close to midnight].
the return drive home also took less than an hour.
i am sure that during normal hours or peak hours, it is not going to be that smooth.
the highway - between hebbal flyover and the airport has a couple of signals and also speedbreakers - but there is talk of dropping the signal free access to the airport from the city.
instead, a high speed rail link is being planned.
for the time being, one just has to grin and bear it, while the airport matures.
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