Tips For Flying Out Of Delhi Airport
- In India aways keep a print out of your ticket as its checked before entering terminals.
- Delhi airport now has a free valet service that helps you right up to the gate. Great for family travel.
- If you are flying economy & are Gold/ Platinum Frequent Flyer, try the First/ Business queue at security.
Getting to the Delhi Airport
I was flying back with the family to Singapore on economy. Just before leaving I realised I didn’t have the ticket printouts that are checked when we enter terminals in India. After a frantic 15 minutes to do this, we got into the cars for the long drive to the airport on a sunday at 7.15PM. We reached in a very quick 1 hour from NOIDA, for a 10PM departure. Air India’s check in was in Gate 3-4 in Delhi’s T3 (changed from Gate 1-2 since my last flight in December).
At Delhi Airport
In India often the family sees you off. The picture tells you what it looks like though this time our family didn’t oblige!
Once we were in, the Star Alliance Gold counters were opposite the economy ones so took a minute to find them. Keep your Gold card handy as they verify. An airport upgrade was available for U$300 a very good deal but we decided not to buy it. Check in was quick, as was immigration, where we used the Special Assistance queue as we are a family with young kids. An airport valet (a new service) accompanied us and took us to the First/ Business security queue as we were Gold members. After some hesitation, the guard let us through. His name was Dutta and I asked if he was Bengal, but he actually was Assamese (same as me) and we exchanged smiles as if we were old friends!
We went to the Air India lounge, which as expected is much closer than the other ones. The Valet has a sticker saying no tips, but we gave him Rs 500 (about U$7). I had to retrieve my daughter who always walks into the First Class section! the food was good and I had a farewell helping of Indian Chinese food, the best Chinese food in the world as any Indian will tell you.
The gate was a bit far, there were no golf carts available to take us there (normally omnipresent) and the travellators were not working so it was a trudge. Processes have streamlined and security at the gate doesn’t any longer check for stamps from the earlier security check. When we reached the door, though boarding had been announced we had a 10 minute wait before we could enter.
On Board Air India
We were greeted at the Dreamliner door by 2 cheery crew and made our way to rows 21/2. The interior was clean & neat and the family settled in fast.
A few minutes later, a man came to me asking if I would switch to a seat 2 rows behind but I said no as I wanted to be next to my family. I knew he was a honeymooner as his wife had the giveaway set of bangles many newly married Indian brides have. He was persistent & came back asking if I would be willing to sit in the middle seat of my row so he could switch someone else and get to sit next to his bride. I had an aisle seat, it was a red eye & I was flying economy.
But the incurable romantic that I am, I succumbed.
Air India starts inflight entertainment immediately (I love that) and I watched this great movie “The Judge” with Robert Downey Jr. The dinner served was tasty (I chose chicken tikka). The gentlemen who came to sit next to me (part of the honeymooners switching seats arrangement) was clearly more charming than me. He got a 2nd helping of the chicken, while I had been refused it when I had asked in my incoming flight!
After the movie I slept a couple of hours, and we landed soon after in Singapore. Immigration was smooth, our luggage came quickly and we were soon on our way back to home sweet home.
Except for better lounge-to-gate access at Delhi airport, I don’t think I found anything lacking in this experience, and Air India’s delivery was very good. Will certainly continue on Air India back to India.