Chennai Airport Domestic Terminal, that is, the brand spanking new one is a traveller’s dream. Okay I maybe going slightly overboard but if you knew what it replaced you’d feel as ecstatic as I am.
India is a nation developing at a rapid pace in the 21st century and could soon become a real economic global powerhouse. Until now I’ve always felt the infrastructure, particularly the transport infrastructure, was weak and reducing the speed of change.
Thankfully this is changing. After spending around 8 years going through Chennai Airport(used to be known as Madras) I’m not dreading the experience any more.
In the past the terminal was something which was really a throwback from the last century. If you’ve ever seen the ugly side to the old Charles De Gaulle airport (the less modern parts) then believe me, Chennai was a lot worse!
It was incredibly small, overcrowded. Archaic décor and climate control to match. The simple task of going to check-in was a battle of wills against an impatient group of fellow passengers cramped into a tiny space whilst jostling for position. Queue, what queue?
Security check was an incredible bottleneck with what appeared to be only one or two working security scanners.
The lounges and restaurant (not that I used them much) felt like hovels; under invested eateries which would make run down council estates seem luxurious.
The limited space waiting area had limited seating resulting in standing room only. Retail outlets were minimal.
Now things have changed. Like Madurai and other airports in India there is a revolution in air travel.
Chennai Airport Domestic Terminal joins the 21st Century
The new Chennai Airport Domestic Terminal is a real leap forward. A design for the future, a real 21st century building providing space and comfort. If you’ve ever been through Shanghai Pu Dong Airport then it relates to that kind of style.
I’ve now been through the check-in hall twice and it has never been crowded. I can’t express how refreshing this is.
Check-in is now a relatively stress free process; the way travel should be.
The security line is minimal. There are plenty of scanning machines and security guards, plus of course the separate channel for ladies. Going through security was quick. (Don’t forget to get your luggage tag stamped as security checked, otherwise you might have problems later.)
You then proceed to a modern, bright and spacious (for the volume of travellers going through the airport at the moment) terminal.
The floor to ceiling windows allow in plenty of natural light. Tiled floors provide a cooling affect for this hot location.
Waiting areas at the gate are of a level of comfort fitting to a modern traffic facility. There are also reasonable views of the air craft if you are keen on watching take-offs and landings.
There are a select range of retail outlets, yet nothing significant. There is a chance to buy luggage, sunglasses, jewellery (well it is India), head sets and even toys to keep the little ones occupied.
You’ll even find a couple of Spas should you be interested in a massage.
Food is maybe an area for improvement at this stage for the Chennai Airport Domestic Terminal. This appears to be a work in progress during my visit in July 2014.
With all that said there are several food stands where you can buy take away food, sandwiches, noodles, rice dishes etc and then eat as you wait at the gate.
I was then really surprised to see a stall advertising the fact they sold Australian cookies! Who’d have thought it in India? I must admit I thought that Americans are more into cookies than Australians but who am I to argue?
Then there was the prime luxury area, yes, the lounges! I could see there were two located on the third floor and they look like comfortable locations to watch time pass by waiting for your boarding call.
Unfortunately I could not research further than the Reception desk. Even though I was flying with a SkyTeam member and I held the highest rank card for SkyTeam I was denied entry. Apparently my card would only allow me in if it was issued in India. Well, you can’t win them all 😉
To be honest I didn’t mind and didn’t expect to make it in.
The Chennai Airport Domestic Terminal is not the finished article yet. As I sat down (by one of many accessible electrical points) there were signs and sounds of ongoing building work.
I found an air vent panel on the seat beside me and holes in the roof. The sound of drilling could be heard as workmen passed by to go to a closed off zone. Clearly when this work is finished the appeal of this place will just increase.
I suppose that I don’t get excited about too many things but I’m certainly excited about the new Chennai Airport Domestic Terminal. It is a vast improvement on what was there before. I’m quite enjoying the experience of passing through. No doubt I’ll be doing so again soon.