Catch 22 at Delhi airport


I always imagined Indian cities to be some sort of Asian anti-thesis to the Japanese ones.

Tokyo gives one the impression that everything has been carefully planned, that space has been optimised to the point where everything has its place and purpose, that everything that could be automated and computerised has, and that everything is so clean, tidy and ordered that it is nearly contagious.

Well, the arrival at Delhi airport certainly confirmed that – not that we had any expectation that we would find anything but chaos, but at least a bit more order in an international airport.

What seemed to be a trivial task in Sydney – checking in with electronic tickets and have a rest before an early morning flight – proved to be much more complicated than anticipated. First of all, the Indian concept of an electronic ticket is slightly different to what we are used to. It seems that any ticket that involves the use of a computer at some point is considered electronic, which does not dispense one from have an actual paper version. In fact, an e-ticket is practically useless if it has not been printed.

Due to the security restrictions, it is virtually impossible to enter the airport – domestic or international – or take a shuttle between terminals without the printout, never mind that the actual e-ticket printer is located inside the airport at the other terminal.

Having been transferred eventually to the domestic terminal, we thought we could simply relax in the lounge before checking in, or even better have a snooze in one of the retiring rooms. But one cannot enter the domestic terminal when the X-Ray machine is broken (or if its operator is on a break – we never found out), one must wait until the x-ray machine is operational again which always takes 10 to 15 minutes (regardless when you ask, so you may have to wait for a couple of hours staring at empty lounge). Never mind that our luggage had been X-rayed already half a dozen times.

Anyway, after disembarking the aircraft around 7pm, it took us almost the 6hours to reach the relative comfort of the airport chairs in the domestic terminal for a 3hour sleep with the TV on before checking-in for the next flight.