Stuck at immigration or baggage claim on a bad day, you may think you'll never get out of Delhi airport. But sometimes, making it there can be even tougher.
Reasons? Navigating congested roads to the airport and the nightmare of finding a parking space for your car.
Both the international and domestic terminals of Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) have single access roads, which get clogged during rush hour. Though the traffic situation has improved, it is not uncommon for passengers to miss flights while being stuck at Mahipalpur crossing or NH-8.
If you reach the international terminal during midnight, when most international flights operate, expect complete chaos outside the departure hall. Passengers jostle with cars and with friends and relatives who come to see off other passengers.
The private airport operator Delhi International Airport Ltd. (DIAL) has extended the ramp area but the arrangements are not adequate.
Parking your car at the airport is a pain in an unmentionable area - and an expensive ache at that.
"The parking space is inadequate and its takes a lot of time," says Pankaj Agarwal, a frequent flier and a chartered accountant.
"Keeping your car at the general parking for four hours costs Rs. 160 and premium parking costs Rs. 240. When airfare has come down so much, what is the point of having such exorbitant parking charges?"
There are general and premium parking lots at the airport and their total capacity is around 2,300 cars. DIAL is building a multi-level car parking, touted to be the biggest in India, with a capacity to handle 4,300 cars
Getting out no easier
When passenger Vinod Pandey, flying in from Patna, stepped out of the domestic arrival terminal, four taxi drivers virtually pounced upon him.
The haggling started even as a visibly harried Pandey started searching for the pre-paid booking counter frantically. It took him a few minutes to locate the nondescript counter run by Delhi Traffic Police buried at one corner of the waiting area.
"I'm visiting Delhi for the first time, how am I supposed to know where the pre-paid counter is? More information should be available inside the terminal itself," Pandey says.
Though DIAL has put up pre-paid counters inside the arrival hall, many passengers miss them.
"There are always huge queues outside the counters, that is why passengers go to touts," Agarwal says. "I also don't understand why there can be auto rickshaw stands at the airport, now that the profile of the flier is changing?