Imagine you’re lost, trying to find out which door to enter through to board your flight, now that there are a multitude of them. Or, maybe your companion is feeling faint and he needs a wheelchair and you can’t spot the counter of the airline you’re flying. All you need to do is walk into the airport manager’s office to get assistance, right? Not quite. Not in the new domestic terminal of the Chennai Airport, anyway.
The airport manager’s office, which used to be easily accessible on the ground level of the Kamaraj and Anna terminals, is now nestled on the first floor inside the iron-and-glass edifice that is the new terminal. While people using the arrival floor (ground) have no access at all to the office, those entering the departure floor (first floor) have no chance of contacting the manager without going through security.
People who are not passengers literally cannot enter the terminal even to make enquiries because the CISF security guards do not let them pass. “It was very disturbing. I had come here last week and wanted to escort a friend’s cousin inside because he had sprained his ankle while alighting from the taxi. When I asked the security guards to allow me to speak to the manager, they rudely refused and asked me to stop blocking the line. There was no visitor entry at that time either,” said Sajan S, a resident of Vadapalani.
Incidentally, the rather stiff-upper-lip attitude of the security guards came under the scanner when they apparently refused to allow aides and visitors of Ministers V Narayanaswamy and Jayanthi Natarajan to enter the terminal’s VIP lounge last week. Though they didn’t make a fuss about it, sources said there was some dissent in airport ranks when evangelist Paul Dhinakaran allegedly entered with a couple of aides ahead of his flight to Coimbatore.
Similarly, non-passengers who were earlier welcome to share suggestions and complaints would routinely enter the old manager’s office, after the shift to the new terminal, this privilege has become almost non-existent.
Having got a earful for being inaccessible, an AAI official from the manager’s office said, “The way they treat passengers and their accompanying visitors is almost as if they are suspected militants. They really need to listen to what people are saying and at least alert us to come out and meet the people when they ask for us.” The best solution would be to possibly have an assistance kiosk close at the entrance to help when the occasion arises.
Defending their attitude, a CISF guard said they would rather be extra strict than afford a security lapse.