Friday, December 23, 2011

Bad experiences at Mumbai International Airport (CSIA)

I have been travelling international for past 6 years now and so I have been in the Mumbai International Airport extensively. I have never been happy with the Mumbai airport. Having travelled to Zurich, Geneva, Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur, Chennai, Hyderabad (new), Bangalore (new) … Mumbai airport really disappoints in terms of infrastructure, facilities etc.  

Now coming to my recent experiences …  

I have travelled several times in past 6 months on the Dubai-Mumbai sector and my airport experience in Mumbai has been extremely bad (not unsatisfactory but bad).

I faced problems with telephony, wifi internet and last but not the least, baggage trolley. 

Public phones are such a basic facility. In an international airport, many people do not have their mobile phones. Non-Indian passengers arriving will most probably not have a local mobile number. Indian passengers might leave their Indian mobile number at their homes in india since they would not want to incur the 'way-tooo-high' international roaming charges.

And it comes as a shock that I could not find a single PCO / public phone in the international airport in my last 2 trips. There was not a single phone in the departure lounge after crossing immigration counter. I could not locate a single PCO in arrival lounge also. None of the staff members or customs officials could help me on this.

How is a passenger supposed to reach out to anyone from inside the airport ???
And how can the CSIA authorities ignore such a basic service/facility.

WiFi Internet – CSIA boasts of free wifi but u need a phone to use it. The thing is that they want you to use your phone to send/receive a code so that you can activate wifi on your laptop or other device. So …. Keeping in context the fact that I stated above that quite a few passengers in international airport are without a mobile phone / active number; for them the wifi facility is not usable.

I would really like to know why does CSIA need to bring in the mobile phone in the workflow to access the wifi on the laptop.

Baggage Trolleys – CSIA is known for huge crowds at night time. There are times when multiple flights arrive in a short interval of time. The airport becomes a fish market or a stock market ring at that time. You can see a huge crowd (yes, crowd. Not queues) near the Immigration and the baggage conveyor belt and then outside for cab too. I do understand the crowd but I am sure it can be organized. I have seen bigger crowds at Dubai airport but they really manage their crowds well.

But let's come to the problem which hits the passengers the most. After having a tough time standing the crowd and queue for the immigration; when people rush to the baggage conveyor belts; they face a problem which is as stupid as an absent PCO. No trolleys.

It has happened to me twice so it was not an exception but a normal situation at CSIA. I could see hundreds of passengers (Men, women, children, senior citizens); all going round in search of baggage trolleys. And there were no trolleys to be found.

The passengers are in a fix since they need to look for their baggage and also for a trolley. If they pick up the baggage then they can't move around chasing the trolley and if they don't pick up the baggage for too long, the belt gets loaded up with no space for more bags to be added.

Some staff members would bring in a few trolleys and men would pounce on them. The women and senior citizens were looking at them helplessly. I myself had to pounce on a trolley (after 20 minutes of wait) which I shared with a lady with a 1 year old kid; since there was no way she could go trolley hunting with the kid.

The Airport authorities, airport police/security as well as the customs officials were simply looking at the absolutely helpless passengers and doing absolutely nothing to help.

I also saw some airline staff members getting 1-2 trolleys for their 'special guests' … maybe business or first class passengers for their airlines. And I also saw some currency notes exchanging hands and trolleys for the donor coming up in a matter of minutes.

I was tired, angry, disgusted, disappointed at the whole situation. Hundreds of passengers inconvenienced due to lack of trolleys. In my last trip of October, I got hold of the trolley after 40 minutes and this time in December, it was about 20 minutes.

And the best part was yet to come. While coming out the lady was complaining about the situation and I was trying to explain that about 10 flights had landed in a matter of 30 minutes and hence the rush. All trolleys were probably taken up by people who landed before us. I was still positive and looking at it as a situational problem.

I came out of the airport and moved towards the right side where there is less crowd and I could wait for my dad to pick me up. This is where I saw literally 100's of trolleys neatly stacked but no one taking them inside. I saw some staff members coming in and taking away a few trolleys rather than the usual practice of moving 50-100 trolleys together inside.

This was a real shocker. Trolleys were there. Plenty of them. Adequate and Enough for all the passengers inside the terminal standing and waiting at the baggage terminal. BUT, no one was taking them inside where they were really needed.

CSIA is supposed to one of the high passenger density airports of India; which only means that millions of passengers have to face inconvenience and bad experiences when they go thro CSIA. What an image of the Commercial Capital of India is being formed in their minds.
I hope someone from CSIA reads this and takes some concrete action to solves these problems ... and also the several other problems that the passengers face in the airport.
(Just when I was about to post this blog post, I saw the Amir Khan advertisement … Athithi Devobhava …
I am sure they could make an ad on airport experience of foreign travelers as well)


  1. like u said ... me to I am tired, angry, disgusted and disappointed

  2. instructions on how to access free wifi at indian airports are here :