Over the past fortnight I’ve made a couple of trips through two of India’s new-ish airport terminals: Delhi’s cavernous T3 and the Bangalore airport.
Much has been written about both terminals, but I feel an inexplicable compulsion to add my paisa’s worth.
The Bangalore airport experience was pleasant from the moment I arrived till the moment I left. It is compact, warm and welcoming. The toilets were clean and smelt of citrus, there were no acres of carpet to wade through and we got our luggage in about 15 minutes of landing. Overall, the airport created an impression of brisk efficiency.
Delhi’s vaunted T3 though was quite the opposite.
For an airport terminal built in the late 2000s, Delhi’s T3 seems strangely reminiscent of the Soviet-era school of architecture with its vast echoing spaces, the famous tatty carpet, surly staff and faintly work-in-progress feel. Yes, I know it’s been built to handle millions of passengers — perhaps more than the Bangalore airport can handle — but surely today’s airport designers know a few tricks to make even a very large space seem warm and inviting. Delhi’s T3 on the contrary seems crude, cold and chaotic.
Going beyond the atmospherics. On my way into Delhi we had to wait almost 45 minutes for our luggage to turn up, which seems strange for a terminal that is supposedly state-of-the-art. The men’s toilets, both in arrival and in departure, were grubby and swathed in a bracing bouquet with a top note of urine.
And on the way out, it seemed to be a sort of free for all at check-in. Problems at check-in could, quite justifiably, be ascribed to the airline. But on the day I flew out, it seemed pretty chaotic at most airline check-in counters in T3. So, perhaps, it is a more generic issue.
Five-odd months after it opened, Delhi’s T3 — its domestic area at least — seems to have a locker-full of issues to resolve. The question is whether the airport management will get its act together quickly. I won’t hold my breath on that one though.