Ending a long wait, the new domestic departure terminal of the Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi became operational on Sunday morning, with some 8,000 passengers using it to board their flight.
Passengers of a Guwahati-bound Indigo flight were the first to use the ultra-modern terminal 1D to board their plane. "About 150 passengers checked in and boarded their plane to Guwahati at 5.35 am after they were given a traditional welcome at the newly-built departure terminal," a spokesperson of Delhi International Airport Ltd, the airport's operator and developer, said.
Passengers were generally pleased with the facilities of the terminal. Built at a cost Rs500 crore, it has 72 check-in counters, 14 security channels, and a four-level in-line baggage handling system. DIAL officials present at the new building presented mementos, sweets and gifts to the passengers.
Cherrie Williams from Chicago became the first passenger to enter and check in at the new terminal for her Guwahati flight. She was seen taking several pictures, and was quoted as saying, "I am very impressed and lucky to be the first passenger to check in. It's unbelievable to see such an airport terminal in Delhi."
Another passenger at the new terminal, P Setia, said, "I was pleasantly surprised with the quick processing at the new terminal. I hardly had to wait at the check-in counter and security channel. The excitement started after the security check as we had many options for food and shopping."
The swank terminal is a far cry from the over-crowded 1B which it replaces. Twice as large, it also feels more spacious because only three airlines are currently operating from there. The breathtaking view from the terminal, overlooking the main runway, also left many passengers thrilled, as they could watch flights landing and taking off.
However, not all passengers were equally pleased. Since proper signs had not yet been put up, there was some confusion, with passengers ending up at the wrong entrance. One passenger, who checked in three hours before his flight was to take off, complained that it was extremely hot in the check-in area as the air conditioning didn't seem to be working properly.
Auto-rickshaws are also not permitted on the ramp, and passengers travelling by these three-wheelers have to travel to the lower level, from where they must take the elevator up to the terminal. ``Autos and buses will not be permitted into the main terminal,'' said an official.
Indigo, Kingfisher Red and Kingfisher are the three airlines that have shifted their operations to the far more spacious 1D from terminal 1A and 1B as of Sunday. Later, Jet Airways, SpiceJet, and JetLite will also shift to terminal ID from old terminal building in the second phase which will begin after 26 April. For the next year or so, domestic flights will depart from terminals 1A and 1D as the old 1B shuts down.