Zipping Past Mumbai International Airport
If this is going to be your first international trip or even first flight anywhere… RELAX ! I can understand how & why some people can feel a little tensed. But it’s absolutely easy. When I too went in for the first time from Mumbai International Airport, choosing Air India from amongst myriad Mumbai to Delhi flights onward to Hong Kong, I was feeling very jittery – How will I manage ? Whether I will understand the process of security clearance, ticketing, customs and immigration, understanding which gate I have to go etc. And all these questions when I wasn’t even in the vicinity – I was in Pune, some 150 Kms odd away – and worrying unnecessarily (inspite of me flying domestic 32 times before my first international flight). I feel today, just as restaurants are trying to make it an Experience, similarly with Airports and all other service providers, especially in the Retail / Travel Segment. If you presume a lot of difficulty in your head before-hand, you will spend time worrying. Rather, take it as an experience and enjoy what comes your way. How ?
Here I give some guide to your first ever visit to Mumbai International Airport, officially called as Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), formerly Sahar International Airport.
Tips to Help You Sail Through Mumbai International Airport
Entering Mumbai International Airport (T2)
Assuming you are departing from Mumbai, you shall have to ask your cab or auto to get you to this airport. In Mumbai, there are 2 terminals. Terminal 1A & 1B caters to Domestic segment while Terminal 2 (popularly referred to as T2) caters to International. Don’t worry about the floor etc, if you also happen to check out CSIA website. Your cab will directly take you to the main gate and the first of the many security check-points start here. There are many entrances along with security personnel manning & checking your passport & tickets, there are boards of respective airlines outside on the footpath. Say Egypt Air is marked on Gate No 5, so logically you enter from Gate 5. Once you cross this security personnel, Egypt Air’s ticketing counter will be right in front of you and there is then no need for you to keep searching for the said counter. That, however, doesn’t mean you can’t get in through any other gate. However, do note there are some Airlines whose name doesn’t appear on the board outside. You can get in from any queue and search for your airlines ticketing counter.
The first thing you will notice about the airport – the airport itself. It’s actually beautiful. And it is big. By Indian Standards, that is.
Once you cross the first point of security, get yourself onto the queue for ticketing process. Show your passport and tickets at the counter and the lady will confirm it, your luggage shall be taken to be then stores in as checked-in baggage. You will also be given a small form asking for details of yourself and your destination, which needs to be kept with you until asked.
Once ticketing / printing of boarding pass is done at the ticketing counter, you are now suppose to head to another security line and then immigration. (There needs to some form of manual check & signature on the printed VISA on your passport, right ??).
Wait & Relax
Once you are done with this, and if you have lots of time, you can roam around the Airport, see the duty-free shops, have some coffee, check out the display board of departing and arriving airlines as some means of time pass, or sit on the couch, listen to your favourite songs.
But do keep a check on time. When you see the electronic display board of Airlines, see the flight you need to catch and on the extreme right hand side on that board, there is Gate Number mentioned. For Eg: Gate 86 A. That’s the way you will have to proceed for making to the aircraft.
Confusion on Display Board of Airlines
The departing airlines on the electronic display board are lined up time-wise and slowly your flight, which was at one time way below others, rises it’s position as & how departing time approaches. A lot of first time passengers get flummoxed when they see their airline number and destination at one time and then when it suddenly disappears. On the exact spot, they see another airline but same destination. Don’t worry. It’s an arrangement of partnership between the 2 airlines. Say you are flying to Sydney on Jet Airways 9W 10. This appears on display. Then immediately, this is replaced by QF 3956. Now, QF stands for Qantas (an Australian airline). Since there is partnership between Jet Airways and Qantas for mutual benefits, some passengers who might have booked their tickets on Qantas website, will see QF 3956 as the number. This flight is operated by Jet Airways, logo & aircraft shall be of Jet Airways (till Singapore, post which you shall board Qantas aircraft) but passengers on Qantas shall also be accommodated in the same flight. You won’t have to fight for seats, though ! 😉
Make your way to the respective gate number (85A or 86B or whatever) and board the aircraft. Overall, it has taken me around 75 minutes on an average to clear all stages (if I exclude the waiting game), but passengers are advised to reach 3 hours early. Better follow that !
In case anybody feels I may have missed something, do let me know, will be glad to edit / make corrections.
PS: Don’t forget to appreciate the splendid effort taken on renovating the Mumbai International Airport and taking it quite high up there in making it world-class. And please don’t break the rules & be considerate towards fellow travelers. Credit: All the fantastic images that you see above, are sourced from Airport’s parent website www.csia.in.