(The Chennai International Airport’s departure area – brightly lighted and well furnished but the crowd can still give you a headache. Sorry, no photos of the secured areas – the officers looked too menacing and strict)
I kind of have forgotten to do the conclusion for this post, so here is it…
The trip to Chennai came to a quick end for my wife – she did not have enough of the shopping but as far as I was concerned, I was looking for a safe return back to Malaysia. I already was missing the good, clean food and the weather back home.
The hired 4 wheel drive that supposes to pick us early was nowhere to be seen and I was getting worried. It was almost an hour drive from the apartment to the airport and I had no idea how was the traffic from the apartment to the airport at that point in time. The last thing I need is for us to miss the flight because we got stuck in a traffic jam.
Our Indian relative noticed my facial expression as I kept looking out the window for the ride. The uncle (the head of the family) started to make some phone calls and it was not long before, I saw a white 4WD snaking along the narrow lane in front of the apartment.
Getting our luggage down from the apartment was made extra difficult – compounded by the fact we had extra “kilograms” added after several days of shopping (which is why we had extra but empty luggage brought from home).
With the minutes ticking away and in the mid of the Chennai heat, we had to bring down the overweight luggage rather quickly – I think we damaged some part of the luggage. We managed to load the luggage into the car and we were off to the airport without further delays.
Chennai airport was still undergoing renovations so the departure area was still a nightmare. We had to park far away from the actual departure entrance and there was no luggage trolley at sight. Thankfully our relatives walked around and managed to find some empty trolleys. Customer service sucked big time – no porters helping out and the crowd outside looks so disorganized.
We bid “goodbye” and “thank you” to our host in Chennai who been very generous and helpful during our stay in Chennai and headed towards the check-in gates. I could see a long queue at the very entrance of the terminal – things were not looking too good.
Out of the many security scanners around, only one was working so imagine the chaos. The many lines converged into one and some of the passengers were rather ruthless – despite seeing small children at the queue, they just push ahead, pushing the small children aside and jumping the queue. The security guys near the scanners did not do much to ease down the mess.
Anyway, we managed to cross over the line without any “bad incidents” and headed towards the MAS check-in counters. Once again, we confronted another chaos here – the local MAS staff did not really care about the queue, leaving us to fight over to get the right line – kind of reminded me of this.
The staffs at the counter looked inexperienced and were facing problems with passengers insisting to check in their overweight luggage without the need to pay for it. The staff also looked lost when had to print out the boarding passes for the passengers who are on transit. Pity the young lady at the front of us who had to transit in KLIA and had to take another flight to Australia.
That delay caused us to lose some good seats – we did not get seats in the same row but we managed to get at least one seat by the window. We sorted out the seats so that we arranged the window side seat for the “Big Boss”. That made the day for my son even though it was a night flight and he cannot see much once we are up in the air.
With the boarding passes at hand, we headed towards the immigrant checkpoint. From afar, we were given the immigrant exit form and advised to fill up in full (the word “full was strongly stressed). So, we did as was advised, but not some of the locals who thought their names will get them through the immigrant with a breeze. They had half-filled forms and tried to talk their way through.
The senior looking uncle at the gate before immigration counters looked fragile and weak but he amazed us when he stopped some people at their tracks and asked them to fill up the form first. He did not even move a bit when the stubborn locals raised their voice and tried to use their “connection” powers.
They were told to buzz off and come back with fully filled form. We later found out that the old, fragile-looking man is the head of the immigration at the airport – no wonder he can stand up to the nonsense put up by the locals. The immigration officers were professional and courteous – they even chit chat with my son as he stood in line to get his passport stamped.
Another round of security – mostly handled by officers from the northern side of India and they were very strict about this. Despite the long queue and security check that seems to be taking forever, we appreciated the strict and detailed checking. After the horrors in Mumbai, the last thing we need is some bomb blast by a crazy terrorist in Chennai airport.
The waiting area was jam-packed but we managed to get a nice cosy spot. We decided against any purchase of souvenirs at the airport because 1. The price was nonsense (it was also 10 times more than the normal price) and 2. The “duty-free” shop was manned by someone who looked like some drug peddler at some back lane (read dirty clothes and harsh language).
The boarding announcement was rather rudimentary and before we know it, a long line started to form.
The good thing was we already anticipated this and stood somewhere at the front of the queue. We had to pass another security checkpoint before we reached our seats – I felt proud to be a Malaysian as the Indian passengers were fast appreciating the clean interior of the MAS cabin and high-quality service from the award-winning cabin crew. There was some delay before the plane can take off – as usual, some idiots went missing and the rest of us had to wait for them. Then after almost 10 minutes, we were ready to take off.
The big boss soon got busy with the in-flight entertainment system and he rarely slept during the journey back. The flight back home was not that long and the MAS cabin crew service was top notch as usual – pity them having to deal with those Indian passengers who probably taking the plane for the first time.
Some of the idiots were so busy drinking away beer and wine throughout the flight and just before we landed, we hit turbulence and these idiots immediately puked on their seats (did they know how to use the disposal vomit bag?). I saw a couple of them, drenched with nasty vomit all over their pants and shoes and thankfully none of them was too near to us – otherwise, they would have gotten nasty blow to their head as well.
Hmmm, perhaps I should add this to my list here.
That rather messy incident was the conclusion of my very first trip to Chennai (and India) and I must say that it was an eye-opening trip. My wife got her shopping done and we all had a great time in time, largely thanks to our Chennai host. And since I have been to Chennai once, I know which pitfalls that I need to avoid the next time around.
Read the whole series here