On Wednesday, Delhi finally got the world-class airport terminal it was promised. Despite a few hiccups, it was smooth running for the new, swank Terminal 3 of Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA).
The terminal, which opened for commercial operations on Wednesday, left passengers impressed with its immense size and elegance.
Though Air India’s flight from New York (AI-102) was supposed to be the first to dock at T3, the honour went to the airline's Tokyo-Delhi flight (AI-307), after the flight from New York got delayed at JFK airport due to congestion.
“Flight AI-102 from JFK New York was scheduled to arrive at 4.45 pm but it was delayed en-route and finally landed at 5.14 pm.
Meanwhile, Air India's flight from Tokyo (AI-307) arrived at 4.50 pm and docked at T3,” an airline official said.
“We didn't know that we will be landing at the new terminal but it was a brilliant experience,” said Janakpuri resident Sandeep Singh, who was back from a business trip to Japan.
However, Singh, along with other passengers, faced problems when it came to baggage collection.
“The baggage claim is taking too much time,” he said. “This wouldn’t happen in any other international airport.”
The conveyor belt number nine, where baggage from the Tokyo flight arrived, started malfunctioning after emergency stop buttons placed all across the belt were pressed accidentally.
“The terminal is as good as those in Japan but baggage claim took a long time, almost 40 minutes,” said Uchikawa, a Japanese national.
Another disappointment was the lack of items in Duty Free shops, which were open but had almost no stocks.
“We have given the retail firms space and other requirements and now it’s for them to begin operations,” said an airport official, who did not wish to be identified.
Passengers who had come hours before scheduled departures and visitors had a terrible time at the departure area due to absence of toilets and food and beverage outlets.
The visitor lounges were also closed for a long time.
“There is no drinking water here nor toilets. The only option is to visit the visitors' lounge, for which I have to pay Rs. 80,” said Roshni Sharma, a passenger.
“The old terminal provided toilets and many eating options outside the terminal.”
Though T3 was opened for operations, construction and finishing work is still going on.
The terminal’s opening also saw protests from drivers of black and yellow taxis, who alleged that private airport operator Delhi International Airport Ltd. (DIAL) had not installed adequate number of pre-paid booths inside and outside the terminal building.