This couldn’t have been timed better. Just when we – as so many Indians living outside the country – are making plans to visit home this summer, comes this cover story in India Today about chaos at Indian airports. Here is the story in a few words: “Low fares helped make air travel a reality for many. But the massive boom has exposed the ugly underbelly of aviation infrastructure. Serpentine queues at counters, filthy airports and hours lost in air and on the ground have made flying a nightmare.”

But if you are planning air travel in to/out of India, here are some gory details of what awaits you:

“It’s an hour before midnight on a Tuesday at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi and hordes of passengers pour through the terminal that’s under renovation and plastered with posters that say “A world class airport awaits you”. Underneath that optimistic message from the Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) in smaller type is another line, “Until then, the inconvenience is regretted”. Meant to act as a balm, the glib line only adds to the ire of the traveller. The competitive pushing needed to negotiate trolleys and gaping crowds, suffering the queues at the check-in counters and bearing with the crawl at immigration counters makes reaching the seat in the aircraft an Olympian achievement. But there is more. Your flight could be behind 20 others and you could still be on the ground four hours after stepping into the airport. Thanks to the lack of runways, air traffic control operators or a dog that could have grounded a taxiing aircraft. Between them, airlines, airport developers and the government machinery have combined to engineer a new fear of flying.”

Gosh! I am already sweating it thinking the long hours in the queues at the airports. But, the bright side is, we now know the facts, so can be better prepared (leaving for airports hours in advance, for example). Luckily, we chose trains – not flights – to travel between places inside India, primarily for financial reasons, but it’s surely less stressful and much more interesting than hopping on and off planes without much of a brush with the humanity around… Or, may be that has changed!!

Check it out for yourself on the India Today site.

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