Famille Du Pentium

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Trip Report – Delhi

I thought I’d give you a run-down of my stopover in Delhi, India on my way home.  It’s interesting because it shows how much time it takes to transfer at Delhi.  My advice: Don’t cut your transfer time short in Delhi. 

AA Flight to Chicago: 12:15 AM Sunday.  This is my target.  I start at about 5:00 PM Saturday, in Hyderabad, which is about 2 hours from Delhi.  My US flight boards at 11:30 PM.

5:00 PM-ish: Flight to Delhi.  Arrives late due to weather, approximately 8:00 PM

Delhi: Get my luggage, and check in at the "International Terminal Transfer Desk", they advise that the hourly bus transfer to Delhi International will leave at 8:50 PM, be there then.  I wait a few minutes.

Getting on the bus, I ask someone who has done this before how it works.  He assures me that it’s about a five minute ride.  

Forty-five minutes later, we arrive at the International airport.  I’d say terminal, but when you have to drive 45 minutes to get there from the domestic arrival, it’s pretty much another airport.

So it’s about 9:30.  I wait in line to get IN to the Delhi international airport.  Then I wait in line to have my luggage screened and strapped and tagged.  Then I go to the check-in desk and wait in line to talk to the airline Security person.  Then I wait in line to get to the Business Class check-in desk.  All this takes about 15-20 minutes, except the check-in itself, which takes seconds, because they’ve already printed my boarding pass and have it waiting on the desk.  You get the feeling that they definately have a handle on who is flying today.

Next, Indian immigration.  This is a grating experience.  Not the people, they’re fine.  And the interminable lines wouldn’t be so bad if they moved uniformly.  The problem is, the Indian immigration folks are very thorogh (good for them!) but they don’t have a very good system for dealing with problems that arise.  So when problems arise, as they do often when immigration officials are being thorough, the line you are in STOPS.  So you move.  Then that line stops.  You move again.  So I arrived at immigration about 9:50 PM, and I’m through by about 10:30.

OK, I have my exec lounge card, and I thought that the check-in desk lady said "past security, turn left".
 I see the security checkpoint just ahead, so I make my way into line.  I can’t complain about the security; the lines are long and slow but it IS security, and this is India after all, so for better or for worse I tough it out.  I’m through by 11:00 PM.

Wow, did I just show how it took three hours to get from a flight arriving in Delhi to a flight departing Delhi?

So I get through security, I figure I’m home free.  Except, this is a small waiting area for about 10 international departure gates.  I must have misunderstood the check-in lady because there is definately not any exec lounges here, just seats and a coffee kiosk.  As a matter of fact, there isn’t even an exit back to the insecure area.  Once you’re cleared, you stay cleared.  Better hope your flight leaves, ’cause that’s the only way you’re getting out of this room.

So I waited the remaining 30 minutes (!!!) and then got called for boarding.  Going through the jetway, we had one more metal detector and a complete hand-check of my carry on bag.  Again, I’m not going to complain about security, not when I fly 60,000 miles a year.  Good for it.  The plane pushed promptly at 12:15 PM and I was ready – for my 16 hour flight back to home Sweet Home, Chicago. 

posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 9:06 pm  

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