When we went to India, we arrived in Mumbai Airport (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport). This airport is really impressive. Be prepared to walk, this is truly an impressive airport.
When I came here 6 years ago, the airport used to be called Sahar Airport, and it was un-impressive. The design and architecture of this airport now is very impressive. The airport is spacious and comfortable but let me warn you.. you will walk and walk and walk a substantial distance from the gate to the Immigration area. I estimated that I had to walk at least a 1/4 of a mile..
Immigration is where the fun starts.
If you don’t know what you are doing (and I’m one of those people), you are guaranteed to go to the wrong lines. In India, you have Indian Nationals, OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) and Visa Holders (me!).
Each of the above has a separate line and you can easily spend an hour on each of these lines as I had to do on two of the lines. The OCI Line for my daughter and the Visa line for me. Of course her line was pretty efficient, but the fun was on my line. I was redirected to the “special” line for Visa Holders.
BTW, you should make sure you print out your e-Visa as this paperwork is absolutely essential.. Otherwise you will not be able to enter India! We almost lost this paper copy of my e-Visa in Newark, as it fell out of our passport folder.. Luckily, I picked it up from the floor at Newark Airport!
In each of the visa lines, there are plenty of stations for visa processing, BUT only a few are actually manned.. Maybe this was a slow work day?
On my e-visa line, after waiting 45 minutes for the 2 manned stations, I finally got to the counter. My visa was in order.. but of course, they wanted to take retinal scans as well as fingerprint me. Security is a great thing when things work well. I realized quickly that the fingerprint scanner was not working well at all. I was asked to put wax on my fingers to get a better read.. of course the container that the agent gave me didn’t have any wax!
After about 10 minutes of sweat (mine), somehow, I was stamped on my paper e-Visa and allowed to enter India! Both hands were fingerprinted and a retinal scan was done as well.
To get to your baggage, you nave to exit thru the Duty Free Shop. Onward to Baggage Claim!
We get our bags, and I decide to get some local currency.. Bad Idea! Remember the word de-monitization. There were limits on how much US Currency I could convert. I could only convert $40.
Finally we get out and we need to two floor up to get our ride.. Elevators are a commodity. It took us about 45 minutes as we had to wait among my fellow traveler’s as we patiently waited for the two elevators.
In retrospect, I was really impressed with the size and comfort level of the airport. The inefficiency of the immigration lines need to be addressed. When you see this airport you see the efforts that the Indian Government has made in making the Airport comfortable.
Just make sure you are wearing your walking shoes!