Lately, I have been taking domestic flights a lot in India and then here are a few lessons that I consolidated from these experiences. Some of these are my mistakes and some are from the experiences of my friends. But very handy to be aware nevertheless.
Not carrying change for Ola/Uber cab: Reach the airport early and ensure that you carry cash change even if you have booked Uber or Ola cabs with online payment options. Indian cab drivers are not always highly professional and anything can go wrong for payment. Sometimes their mobile app crashes, sometimes you may accidentally select cash option. And not carrying the exact change is a huge crime in face of these cab drivers.
Not doing a web check-in: Now, I know that many airlines are making it tougher to do that illicit web check-in by charging for a seat choice but do this whenever you can. This is because you never know when the queue starts moving as slow as a snail. Especially when a shortage of staffs in the airlines ends up affecting your boarding. And hey, make use of that airport boarding pass vending machine which is available at the major city airports.
Traveling with heavy luggage: The trolley will help me at the airport. Right? Wrong! What about the time when you need to shift from the cab to trolley? What about unexpected stairs or crowd in some places. Travel light to feel free.
Using earphones at the Boarding Gate: Flights are getting delayed all the time. Most airlines are least bothered about punctuality. Reasons vary from bad weather to combining two domestic flights in one(due to lack of passengers at certain timings). The more you get into the reason, the more you will feel despair. So, let’s not get there. The key point is that keep your ears open for announcements at the airport. Do not risk wearing an earphone and missing on something important. Especially, at the boarding gate.
Carrying fragile items: No matter what the boarding counter attendant tells you. Be sure about wrapping up your fragile items very well before checking them in. Typically with bubble wraps or your clothing. Point in question – Duty-free shopped items.
Carrying the water bottle or spices: Do you carry a water bottle or not? Often domestic flights charge you insane even for water. But then they wouldn’t let you bring your own water. The solution is to carry a small empty bottle in your cabin bag and fill it in the boarding area. If you happen to buy any spices, please pack them off in the check-in bag. You don’t want to see the beautiful fragrant red chilly packet being dumped into a garbage can at the boarding security check.
Sitting next to tall people: Domestic flights have recently become affordable to Indians. So, many of them do not follow the flight etiquettes very well yet. It does not matter if there is a stranger sitting next to you, if he is too tall to fit, he would nudge you the whole journey unapologetically. If you are the taller one, resist the temptation to spread out too much into your neighbor’s seat. But if you are the victim, the only solution is to switch seats or else stay away crumpled in your seat the whole journey.
Wearing thin clothes: A domestic flight will be very cold to sit in, any time of the year. I guess they want to ensure it is too cold, rather than even mildly hot for some. A scarf or a jerkin is a minimum requirement to travel through these domestic flights.
Jumping the queue: Whether it is a boarding ticket counter, security check or a boarding gate, the queue is always chaotic. And don’t mistake me, it has nothing to do with too much crowd. Even if the queue is short, people will be in a hurry all the time. And they will not hesitate to push and pull. Either just go with it or have enough time on hand to let the pushy ones go ahead of you. Better away than in the middle of chaos.
Recharging at the airport: As of now, the power banks are allowed in cabin bags. And it is always better to carry one. If not, you have to fight for an available charging plug at the airports. So few plugs and so many takers. Needless to say that there are hardly any seating arrangements close to plug points, so be prepared to stand and keep holding the device till you have enough charge to manage with it.
Eating at the airport: Government is taking steps to regulate prices of commodity and eatables at airports. Until that happens, be ready to spend about 4 to 5 times the normal price. Better yet, carry your own snack if you can.
Shopping the at airport: The first question that comes to mind is whether they are overcharging for commodities at the airport. At the international duty-free terminal, this is not a concern. But for the domestic flights, it is not wise to purchase from the airport unless of course, you are hunting for the last minute souvenir.
Using toilets: Hygiene has improved in most airports in recent years, but there are still a few where you will cringe before using. But it is any day better to use it on the airport rather than using it over the flight. Carry your own sanitizers, hand wash, and tissues to be sure.
Not having lounge access: As you might already know, several credit cards get you access to airport special lounge services at all major airports. Waiting is so much comfort in the lounge. Make sure to use these services if at all you are stuck in waiting at the airport. The quality of most lounges is top-class and it is an oasis of facilities amidst chaos and poor hygiene otherwise seen at airports. A major reason is also that the crowd is much less here.
Let me know if this was helpful. And please do not spoil the picture of Indian Domestic airports in your mind purely going to this blog. There are several good aspects including the special help available for kids and elders. Be your own judge and leave a comment to express if you have faced any of these.