By Sibichen K Mathew
Bangalore International Airport (BIA) has finally took off after years of wait and legal bottlenecks. The neatly done six lane road to the airport, the spacious parking area, posh interiors and lavish shopping and catering area are pleasing to the eyes.
Air travel, then a luxury, has become within the reach of common man quite recently thanks to the competitive tariffs offered and increased frequency of trips to various destinations. However, the impression BIA gives to every one is that airport is an end in itself and not just a comfortable means to one’s destination. But all at a heavy cost for people. At least that would be the feedback from ordinary citizens.
One takes the first step of his journey by dialing to the call centres of the airline. After long re-dialing exercise, he gets the message that flight is on-time. He calls up for one of the airport special taxi and gets a reply that it would take another one hour to reach and that too at a premium rate. Takes an auto which charges for every little piece of the luggage to the nearest BMTC special service stop. Unload the luggage in pavement and waits again anxiously for the bus. Decides to take another taxi as he is worried of missing the flight. Calls another taxi happened to pass by. Loads the luggage after heavy bargain. Then the long trip to the airport.
Almost three hours passed since he stepped out of the house. Finally he reaches the airport domestic terminal. One has to stand very close to the display board to see the flight status as the fonts are very small. By the time he finishes the check-in and the security check, he feels terribly hungry. He enters one of the cafeteria. Stands in the long queue and finally reaches the advance billing counter. He wants to eat something. Alas! Coffee costs a minimum of fifty; Tea for not less; Idli for eighty; Pongal also eighty. Settles for two vadas and a coffee and shells out of 130/- By this time, he has already spent about eight hundred rupees for travel and snacks. He needs to travel another two hours in an airline which will not give you even a bottle of water without begging. As the flight was delayed, he walks through the posh shopping area. Expensive garments, gifts, perfumes and what not. Suddenly you realize that you have forgotten the tooth paste or a towel. You won’t get that. Want an essential over-the-counter medicine? Not readily available. All shops facilitate conspicuous consumption than travel related essentialities.
That is the plight of passengers. If you had reached the airport to receive or drop some guests, a different type of ordeal is ready for you. You will hardly find a place to sit. You will wait for hours along with hundreds of others including the cab drivers holding your hands on the railings. Wants to quench your thirst? Be ready to shell out the price they charge in star hotels!
Statistics indicate that number of air passengers from Bangalore (especially for trips to near destinations) have reduced drastically after the opening of new airport. BIAL should understand that, all those who travel by air are not immensely rich to throw their hard earned money for substandard and over pitched services. People may travel for emergencies. Many travel officially. And who needs the so called ‘world class facility’ with a high ‘user fee’ price tag? Is it to woo a handful of rich tourists or to cater to highly paid CEOs of Corporates?
Let it cater to those who can afford. And let the user fee be doubled or tripled. But majority needs an airport without all these frills and glitz. Can we have an airport for people? (Or can we get back our old airport?)
Musings for a responsible society
Amidst the dark and grey shades increasingly engulfing, invading and piercing deeper and deeper, let me try to enjoy the little smiles, genuine greens, and the gentle breeze. Oh! Creator! If you don't exist, my life...in vain!
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