Missing Passenger Facilities at Chennai Airport's New International Terminal

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

This is March 2015 and Chennai Airport's (MAA) new international terminal is not technically new any more. In spite of that one feels like still calling it "new" as if looking for a reason to excuse the lack of some basic facilities that seem to be taking forever to arrive here. This international terminal is important because a large number of international flights take off from here to several destinations in the Gulf, Singapore, Bangkok, Colombo, and a few other places. Due to its being an important regional connectivity hub, several passengers from neighbouring states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala come here for their international connections. That results in long layovers for connecting passengers and that is where the lack of facilities comes more into focus. A connecting passenger who walks into the terminal once is not allowed to leave the terminal by the security personnel and they end up being prisoners for long hours here. Keep reading for more...

Passport Control at Chennai International Airport

Missing passenger facilities at Chennai airport's new international terminal

1. No proper food stalls

There are no food stalls in the terminal except for two coffee shops (Cafeccino and Cafe Coffee Day), and a sweet meat shop by Sri Krishna Sweets. The coffee shops keep some sandwiches and samosa, etc., but no hot food. Coffee / tea prices are thankfully not over the top, like Rs. 90 for a large cappuccino. But this is Chennai and imagine the total absence of any idli-sambar or masala dosa in the terminal. There are a couple of stalls outside the terminal that sell South Indian food, Sangeetha Veg, Madras Coffee House, and the like, but none inside the terminal. The situation does not improve much even in the boarding area. Yes there is a nice airport lounge called "Travel Club" but that is not for everyone. So if your flight is a "low-cost" type with no hope of any good food being served in-flight, better bring your own packed food into this terminal or buy a packet from Sangeetha Veg before you step inside.

2. No WiFi Internet

The empty help desk at Chennai International Airport

The digital display boards at the terminal advertise the facility of a free WiFi internet for 30 minutes. Alas, the terminal WiFi never connects and there is never any staff at the help desk to guide you on anything. I am sure the Airport Authority of India has given jobs to at least three persons to man the help desk in all the three shifts of the day but maybe only God knows where they spend all their time.

3. No charging points

There are no cellphone or laptop charging points in the terminal. Period.

4. Only one bank ATM

Indian Bank ATM at Chennai International Airport

There is only one ATM here, of "Indian Bank" and I saw this ATM "Out of Service" on March 8, 2015. Now what if a passenger needs cash in an emergency after entering the terminal? Remember once you enter, you can't leave! Please AAI, Will it hurt to have ATMs of two different banks in this so-called "international terminal"?

5. Two water fountains but no paper cups

Not all the people are comfortable sipping water from water fountains. Water bottles are sold by CCD and Cafeccino at Rs. 30 for 500ml. At New Delhi's T3 there are vending machines selling 500ml water at Rs. 10. Now how does MAA compare with a fully privatised airport? At least AAI can keep some paper cups near the water fountains but perhaps they are trying to look fully international at least in this regard.

6. Inadequate waiting chairs

The waiting chairs for passengers are few and far between and there are absolutely no easy chairs where passengers can stretch their legs waiting for long hours. Bad airport for sleeping.

7. Security Check too slow

This one is perhaps not the CISF's fault with all those pickle jars & ghee tins being carried by the passengers in their hand-baggage but security is really too slow here as compared to the really fast emigration counters.

What is good

The terminal including the wash rooms is clean, has plenty of security personnel, and photography is allowed. There are two or three foreign exchange counters with very bad rates though.

Maybe the rest of the useful things will arrive at this terminal sometime in our future.

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Posted by Narinder Singh

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I left my day job in October 2013 and became a full time blogger. I love travel and hence a travel blog was the obvious place to start from. The result is desiyatri.com. I currently live in Bengaluru, India. - Narinder Singh. (Email: desiyatri@gmail.com)


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