Yesterday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in the city to inaugurate the swanky new international terminal (T2) of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji airport. For days now, the press and TV channels have been running news about this facility. Its mammoth size, with more that 180 check-in counters, 60 immigration counters for departing passengers, 47 escalators and 73 elevators, amongst other features, promise that passengers not only fly ‘from’ the airport with ease, but ‘fly’ through the airport too.
With the increasing number of travellers, infrastructure had been strained at the airport, and the added counters, elevators, escalators and boarding gates are welcome. A large amount of attention has been paid to aesthetics, with the museum of artifacts being the focus. There are about 7,000 artifacts from more than a thousand artists across the country. The facility will naturally arouse debate and maybe, some criticism at the amount spent, but overall it will make the average Mumbaikar proud.
What is vital though is that other factors must also be looked at if Mumbai wants travellers to have the complete no- bumps-smooth-as-silk experience. Right now, we see chaos at times at the carousels. Hundreds of passengers line up around one carousel with passengers literally snatching their baggage off the belt, and commotion ensues for trolleys. Often, passengers who arrive on late night flights and most international flights land late at night or early morning are shunted from one line to the other during immigration.
It is a frustrating experience with no proper signage above and one or two persons shouting difficult-to-hear instructions. Passengers, who are weary after long flights are already on the edge. Then, queues for pre-paid cabs at the airport need to be better managed and the rush for taxis outside can be nerve wracking.
Aesthetics and impressive construction is one thing but it is details like these that make a difference between cosmetic changes and real transformation. Let authorities streamline everything including the experience when passengers step out of the terminal to get transport to their destinations. That should surely be as easy and effortless as the new terminal promises travel to be. Only then can one say that one has truly arrived in swank style.