In transit: Delhi International Airport in one word


When I disembarked at Delhi International Airport I thought wow! this airport has a bit of a Changi Airport kind of feel. I was expecting chaos and disorganization and masses of people. Instead I was greeted with an almost calm and serene atmosphere.

That feeling of serenity and calm eroded quickly, and morphed into an abyss of urghness as I transferred to my domestic flight to Amritsar. Beneath the organised, efficient facade of travelators and charging stations and those little electric cars transporting the elderly, infirm and just plain lazy to their respective gates, Delhi Airport bears absolutely no similarity to Changi Airport whatsoever.

My first indication of urghness were the toilets. They were either not working or dirty. Doors didn’t lock and taps didn’t work. Soap dispenser didn’t dispense. Still, any port in a storm, right? It wasn’t an anomaly. Throughout the airport, I found malfunctioning toilets with the “under maintenance” signs were the rule rather the exception.

Immigration was easy, but the wait to get through was long and hot, despite it being only 12° outside. Picked up my luggage (which was there—thank you Singapore Airlines, you again not failed me!) and waltzed though customs, and this is where the urghness well and truly set in.

I had to pass three security checks to actually reach the Jet Airways* check in counter to get my boarding pass. These security checks required me to show my flight details at each point plus my passport. And finding where to go was a tad confusing.

I was aware that I only had about three quarters of an hour to catch my flight to Amritsar, so I was disappointed to see that the check in counter line was long. And it turned out to be slow. It was a good 20 minute wait. I knew I was going to be cutting it fine for me domestic connection (even though I had three hours between flights on my itinerary), so sighed a huge sigh of relief when I was finally served.

That relief turned to dismay when I was informed by the somewhat surly desk clerk that the flight was full and the only option I had was to take a later flight at 5pm. What? How could this be? I asked. I have a ticket! Sorry, it’s full, was the reply. And he went on to say that I’d have to take the later flight, but that I would be compensated. What could I do but agree, even though I said it was very inconvenient, what about an upgrade on that particular flight etc. etc. I also had a sneaking suspicion that I was being bumped because I was foreign and a woman and travelling alone but this is pure conjecture and I can’t substantiate this at all.

So off he went (with my travel docs and passport – eek!) to find his team leader. When he returned (with said team leader – and my travel docs and passport – phew!) I had to sign a compensation disclaimer, and was paid 3000 rupees. I have no idea whether this is good or bad. I’m assuming it’s good, but I don’t know the going compensation rate, so how do I know I wasn’t diddled?

The surly desk clerk decided that as I was being sorted by his team leader that it was ok to start serving another lady, and almost gave this lady my passport until I noticed and stopped him. Then I was issued with not one, but two boarding passes, and the team leader realised that she hadn’t paid me my compensation (I saw her tuck it into her pocket while she sorted my boarding passes). I managed to check my luggage and was half to Departures when she came after me and said I needed tags for my carry on. Of course she didn’t have any. Back I went.


Then it was back through security once again and it has to be one of THE WORST security experiences I think I have ever had. It was congested and slow and chaotic. The congestion was made worse by the fact that men and women were separated for screening. Men were screened out in the open and had a choice of two lanes, and women behind a curtain. You guessed it: only one lane. It was such a slow process (the men zipped through) and I could see my bags piling up at the end of the conveyor belt. I was nervously thinking: I hope no one makes off with them.

No one did, but one of my bags had to be rescreened “minus the electronics” which explained the pile up at the end of the belt. Other people were having their bags rescreened as well.


I finally made it through and then had four hours to kill while I waited for my flight to Amritsar. I ate, napped, peed, napped some more.

Oh, and the soldiers in the airport carrying what looked like semi-automatic weapons was a little bit scary.


* Why was I not flying Air India, which is a Star Alliance member, I have no clue. And this is also why—I think—my bag wasn’t checked through to Amritsar.

Please share!


  • Gary Lum February 13, 2015 at 4:30 PM

    Sounds very arduous and ugh

    • Diane Lee February 13, 2015 at 4:34 PM

      It took urgh to a new level, Gary!

  • Moritz February 14, 2015 at 7:21 AM

    Urgh, what a horrible experience. I’m feeling really bad for you. But believe me, Air India is not any better than Jet, so yeah… not easy in India, especially when travelling alone. I hope you’ll be able to enjoy your time nevertheless 🙂

    • Diane Lee February 14, 2015 at 1:29 PM

      Thank you, Moritz! I got there in the end, and it wasn’t any worse than when I travelled to China – at least my luggage was there at the end. Interesting that you say Air India is just as bad as Jet!

      • Moritz February 15, 2015 at 3:01 AM

        Soemtimes travelling in Asia is not really comfortable. Sad to see that you had bad experiences in China as well. I hope you’ll be a little more lucky in the future 🙂

        • Diane Lee February 15, 2015 at 11:36 AM

          The bad experiences make excellent stories! Once I’m *in* the destination, I’m usually find. It’s just so damn hard to get in sometimes! And I love travelling in Asia—so many rich and diverse cultures 🙂

          • Moritz February 17, 2015 at 8:50 AM

            Absolutely. Asia is great. It’s so much more enjoyable as everything is way more unique. I hope you’ll be able to have many more adventures in the future 🙂

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