Actually, the last 36 hours I will never forget and this is for a few reasons. First of all, I must have eaten something that was tainted because I spent the first 24 hours in my hotel room. I cancelled my side trip to Nepal because I was so ill. After ingesting what seemed like an entire pharmacy, I forced myself out of my room to capture some of Delhi before my flight to Thailand.
Below, you will see images of Old Delhi. The streets are about as raw as you can get. I have been to some very poor and underdeveloped countries, but India surprised even me.
After hiring a bicycle rickshaw to take me around Old Delhi’s market, I saw a few temples and historic monuments and then made my way to the airport.
The airport itself looks like your run of the mill large international airport. I have been on hundreds of flight segments in my life, and I am telling you now that the New Delhi airport provided me with the worst experience of my entire traveling life.
When I arrived at the airport, they would not even let me through the front door as my paper printout did not say today’s date on it. I tried to explain that my flight day had been moved up but in order to enter the airport, I needed to boot up my laptop to show the guard my email confirmation. Following that, there was apparently a MAJOR problem with my carryon luggage. I travel with a small camera bag and a small laptop bag where ever I fly, but for the Air Asia staff in Delhi, apparently it weighed too much! They actually made me put it on the scale! I was appalled as I have never been asked to weigh my carryon baggage. Even after opening my baggage and showing the staff my multiple lenses and telling them I am a travel photographer and writer, they would not budge. I gave all of my leftover rupees to my driver as a tip, so I had to walk halfway across the airport to an ATM to get more cash as the airline refused a credit card payment for overage weight.
Once I paid for my overage weight on my carryon bags (again another first), I proceeded to the security checkpoint. What else could go wrong? Apparently they were just getting started! When I arrived at security, they notified me that I needed a special tag to be put on my luggage in order to pass through security. This information would have been very useful to me if the counter staff had done their job before I walked all the way to security. After security has scanned my bags twice, searched them thoroughly and put a blue stamp on the special “security baggage tag”, I was free to walk to the gate.
At boarding time, my passport was checked as I passed through the gate by a member of the Air Asia staff, again halfway down the ramp and then once I reached the walkway to the airplane is when the real fun started. There were two members of the “Crack Delhi Airport Security” waiting to check the “security baggage tags” to make sure that everyone had the counterfeit-proof blue stamp. To my dismay, one of the paper tags seemed to have been torn off while walking to the gate. Papers tear??? I must be a security threat! The voices of the guards rose as they searched me for the tag, thank god it was just under the strap of my bag. Who knows what they would have done to me if I had lost it.
I will say again, this was the absolute worst experience of any airport I have ever flown through. A lot could be done by the staff of the airport and the desk staff to make flying through easier and more enjoyable.
I have to say, the manager of the Air Asia counter was very helpful and friendly, probably doing what he could given the obviously ridiculous rules that only exist at this one single airport. I have flown with Air Asia many times and will continue to do so as I don’t think it was the airlines fault. That being said, this airport really needs to get their act together.
For those of you that regularly read my blog, you know that I do not often complain, so this says a lot about this experience.
Anyways, sorry to ramble on… Enjoy the images!