Sleeping at New Delhi International Airport
Trip Start Jun 05, 2011
196Trip End Feb 28, 2013
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Where I stayed
IGI Airport Arrival Hall
1813 miles / 2917 kilometers - 4 hours
Accommodation: Indira Ghandi International (IGI) Airport (free)
Best Laid Plans Change
We had it all figured out. Giving ourselves ample time to get to airport by 10:30AM for our 12:35 flight to New Delhi;7 AM alarm set, pack final things, leisurely breakfast at 8, and have front desk order taxi for 9:30 to take us to convenient airport link train-stop a few blocks away at Makkasan.
It was raining buckets when we awoke and showed no signs of letting up. All the better that we ordered a taxi, we thought. As we were having breakfast an apologetic front desk girl came over to tell us that because of the rain, no taxi would come. They have enough business in this weather we supposed. We were happy to be in an area where we had another option so we got our umbrellas out and walked the 10 minutes to the subway, cars passing us and often splashing a wall of water.
We easily found the Air IndiGo check in desk and passed though passport control without delay. The Bangkok departure terminal is loaded with restaurants and duty free shops with selection galore. We had plenty of time to browse. We purchased two bottles at the duty free store and will worry about finding a place for them in our checked luggage while we wait in Delhi for our flight to Leh.
Only a 4 hour flight to Delhi
The long line through immigration moved fast. We had left "address in India" blank on the disembarkation form since we had none. The ornery immigration agent, with red hennaed hair, insisted on one. Dave blurted out, "How about Holiday Inn" which seemed to satisfy him.
It didn't take us long to spot our first wiggling head, yes we have arrived in India. Dave said he momentarily thought he had walked into a purchasing conference at General Motors. I didn't get the joke but Dave assured me his former colleagues would have.
When we exited customs clearing, into the receiving area where a small group of orderly people held up signs with names and excited family and friends picked people up, it was calm, a wonderful change from the chaotic free-for-all with taxi and tour touts vying for our attention 20+ years ago. Stepped up security has eliminated anyone without documented justification from entering the arrival area.
Sleeping in Airports
Our 5:35AM departure onward to Leh meant we would need to check-in around 3:35AM. We decided to hang out in the airport rather than leaving for such a short stay at a hotel. We were told that we couldn't enter the domestic departure area because our ticket was for next day departure and it closed at midnight.
I was a little disappointed by the lack of facilities in the arrival hall. It has ATM, a few shops, cafes, and car rental desks. "Tourist Information" desks were set up to sell tours mainly. Brochures on transportation, train & bus schedules, for example, would have been nice. A map of India would have been appreciated.
We were told if we exited the arrival hall, we would NOT be allowed back in. And we could NOT get into the Departure hall on the upper level. We resigned ourselves to wait where we were. A looong wait from 3:30 pm arrival to 5:35am departure to Leh.
We tried several Indian dishes at two of the restaurants and for a while we were absorbed by watching the colorfully dressed people passing by, especially the elegant saris and salwar kameez in gorgeous color combinations.
Briefly, I chatted with a Dutch woman who was waiting for her husband who was on mission to find a place where he could print a copy of his itinerary in order to get past security into the departure level. An hour and a half later he returned and was fit to be tied. Apparently he finally got the copy after a lot of frustrations and running around. He made no time for pleasantries and they left for their flight back to Holland.
Luckily, Dave had the hotel desk print copies of our flight confirmation, something we rarely do. Apparently this is a recent requirement.
We moved to some hard plastic chairs against the wall and managed to find a place in our to-be-checked luggage for the liquor. I managed to catch a few cat naps but sleep eluded Dave. He wanted to keep a close eye on our luggage.