India is a big country and sometimes flying from A to B is the best use of your time. Traffic congestion/road works and even animals wandering on main highways may mean investing in a short domestic flight will not only get you to your next destinations more quickly but it will help you keep your sanity.
So if I recommend you fly – I really mean you NEED to fly!
I am a big proponent of “taking India slowly.” Taking the time to discover the country and savour the diversely unique flavours of each area just makes sense. So forget the grand India tour in 2-3 weeks – treat India as someone you want to visit again and again to develop, evolve and deepen an ongoing relationship.
People think working in travel is SO glamorous – but familiarisations and trade shows are hard work, fast paced and exhausting. But the BIG benefit for you, is that you get to take it slow on your travels, knowing that you have a perfectly crafted itinerary.
When I’m assessing hotels, restaurants and experiences, my day can start as early as 3am to catch a flight to the next destination and sometimes finish after midnight. I’ll admit now, I was very tempted to ‘go missing’ in Kerala a couple of years ago after a rare two night stay in Thekkady – I was not ready to leave!
Surviving India’s Airports
These are my top 4 “what you need to knows” when you arrive at an airport in India to catch your flight:
- It’s NOT Chaos
Those crazy people filled airports that you read about in old travel books are a thing of the past, or figments of a movie makers imagination. Only those travelling are allowed into the airport. This means as you need to present your ticket and passport to the armed guard on the door. So no matter how chaotic it might be to actually get to the the airport itself, inside it is very organised – even in Delhi on a Monday morning.To ensure things run super smooth try to arrive at the airport 1.5 hours before your flight departs. (Mini-tip: for early morning flights Jet Airways or Air India are the way to go as meals are included in the ticket price on for both airlines)
- When you check in you NEED one of the baggage tags from your airline.
Make sure you attach one of these (you will find out below why). If travelling with us, one of the services we offer clients is airport assistance.
- Watch your luggage weight.
Air India has recently announced that it is increasing its free baggage allowance to 23kg for domestic flights for customers flying between 12 August 2015 to February 7 2016. All other airlines have a luggage limit of 15kg. However you don’t have to pack everything except the kitchen sink when you travel to India. Hotel laundry services are quick, efficient and inexpensive.
- Male vs Female Queues at Airport Security.
When you go through airport security you will be split into two queues. For the men it pretty much works like going though domestic screening at home. However for ladies after they x-ray you carry on, and you will then individually step into a curtained booth where a lady airport security officer will ask you to step up on a box while she screens you with the screening paddle or pats you down.For both Men and Women your carry on airline tag (remember you attached this at check in) will be stamped. Make sure this stamp dries and does not smudge off! It will checked at the departure gate. The above also applies when you are departing internationally. I had a bit of fun at Delhi when the stamp did not adhere to the tag of the airline I was departing on that was attached to my day pack. Needless to to say I had a short wait with an armed army type guy at the gate while they verified that I had been screened etc etc. At the time it did not do much for my anxiety levels as I had a really short connection time for my onward flight to NZ (one of the joys of trade shows booking your flights!). Thankfully the wheels of bureaucracy turned quickly and I was allowed to board my flight.
So nothing too scary overall – but it is great to know what to expect especially when it is a little different to what you may be used to at home or on your other travels.
Tell me, what’s your most interesting overseas airport experience? And did it make you laugh or nearly cry?