Let me, first of all, extend the profound gratitude of lakhs of air passengers to you for having come personally to witness the agonising hardships felt by the common people over the last year at Delhi airport. We earnestly hope there will be soon a major re-organisation of the procedures for handling passengers at the airport.
As a senior citizen needing to travel to South India via Chennai for medical care regularly, I would like to bring to your attention the acute hardships faced by transit passengers, especially senior citizens and mothers, at the transit airports. More passenger-friendly transit arrangements, considering that transit passengers are often travelling long hours to reach their destination, could be your biggest gift to the aviation sector this year. The following areas need urgent review.
One, travellers from northeast to south /western India be routed through Kolkata, as before, instead of bringing them to Delhi: A large number of passengers from northeast India travel daily from Dibrugarh to South India, Chennai and Mumbai, mainly patients for medical care, as also college students and defence personnel. Being the easternmost major airport, Dibrugarh caters well to people of Arunachal, upper Assam and eastern Nagaland, even though all of them have to first travel 4-5 hours by road to reach Dibrugarh. Till this year, passengers to Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad used to travel via Kolkata, where we hardly faced any anxiety of long waiting at security. There were some direct Dibrugarh to Chennai flights too, with a stopover at Guwahati / Kolkata, when the passengers didn’t have to change flights. For reasons not clear, all these flights are now cancelled and passengers are directed to Delhi, adding substantially to the chaos at the Delhi airport. Being a much larger airport, we had been facing at Delhi airport considerable harassments. Restoring the Kolkata transit route to and fro NE would thus substantially reduce the hardships of passengers at both airports. It would also be a great relief to the Delhi security officials.
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Two, creating Transit Security Check (TSC) Counters, for transit passengers to take them straight to their relevant departure gate: The transit passengers have also been experiencing repeated harassment at the second security check. At present, it is a time-consuming process, involving standing in long queues, dreaded by senior citizens and ailing patients. Once an elaborate security check is done at the first airport, one wonders at the purpose of putting the transit passengers once again through another severe round of security checks at the transit airport. As the time gap between two flights is normally between two-three hours, many of those standing in queues have to remain hungry for long hours!
In view of this, setting up separate Transit Security Check (TSC) Counters, and directing the transit passengers straight to TSC through a Sanitised Passage ( that does not enable them to mix with anyone else) would be helpful. Since the transit passengers would be coming directly from the aircraft to the Transit Security Check counters, their security check can be done much easier and they may be spared the harassment of being treated harshly in the screening of their hand luggage, which was already cleared by the CISF at the first airport.
This would end the present system of treating transit passengers coming directly from the flight in the same way as outside passengers boarding the first flight – a case of treating unequals as equals!
Sir, though no right-thinking citizen would dispute the need for security checks at the airports, it is the unfair harshness and harassment of innocents, that is most regrettable — and that too after paying security check fees.
The reforms suggested would be happily welcomed by the CISF personnel too, who have a thankless job assigned to them day and night.
We earnestly hope the passengers coming to Delhi airport would soon feel relaxed coming to the largest airport in the nation.
(The writer is the founder of the Lohit Youth Library Network in Arunachal Pradesh)