International flights use the Indira Gandhi International Airport (tel.
11/329-5434), about 38 kilometers (23 miles) southwest of Connaught
Place, the city center. Domestic flights use Palam Airport (also called the
national or domestic airport), which is near the international airport. Palam
has two terminals: the Airbus terminal for Indian Airlines airbuses serving
Bangalore, Bombay, Calcutta, Hyderabad, and Madras, and the Boeing
terminal for other Indian Airlines flights and private-sector domestic carriers.
When you purchase or reconfirm any domestic-departure ticket, find out
which terminal you should use. For the private-sector domestic carriers, use
the extreme right entrance at the Boeing terminal. If you take a taxi to the
airport, most drivers are clueless about the appropriate departure terminals.
Flying times: 16 hours from New York, 18 hours from Chicago, and 20
hours from Los Angeles.
It is vital to reconfirm your flights at least 72 hours before departure. Since
there are rigid security procedures, check in no later than 60 minutes before
flight time for domestic flights and 3 hours before international flights, and
expect tight security at all airports. Do not pack a pocket knife in your hand
luggage. Even golf clubs are not allowed as hand luggage. Also remove the
batteries from your camera or any electronics (except your computer) and
pack them into your checked luggage. If you hand carry a computer, you
will usually be asked to turn it on during the security check. For many flights,
checked luggage must be identified on the tarmac before boarding.
Touts at the airport and even individuals at certain hotel booking counters
inside the airport will try to trick you into booking hotel rooms. They may
even insist that any prior booking is invalid. Ignore them. If you do need a
room, go to the Government of India Tourist Office counter.
Major international carriers that use Indira Gandhi International
- Air Canada (tel. 11/372-0014 or 11/372-0043);
- Air France (tel. 11/331-0407 or 11/331-7054);
- Air India (tel. 11/331-1225);
- Alitalia (tel.11/331-1019);
- British Airways (tel. 11/332-7428 or 11/332-9906);
- Cathay Pacific (tel. 11/332-1286 or 11/371-9631);
- Gulf Air (tel. 11/332-7814 or 11/372-1141);
- Japan Airlines (tel. 11/332-4922 or 11/332-7608);
- KLM (tel. 11/331-747);
- Kuwait Airways (tel. 11/331-4221);
- Lufthansa (tel. 11/332-7609 or 11/332-7268);
- Malaysian Airlines (tel. 11/332-4308);
- Qantas (tel. 11/332-1432);
- Singapore Airlines (tel. 11/332-6373);
- Swissair (tel.11/332-5511);
- United Airlines (tel. 11/335-3322 or 11/332-9027).
Indian Airlines is the national domestic carrier. The entry of
privately owned domestic carriers into the market has forced
Indian Airlines to improve its service, but Indian Airlines flights
are still subject to delays, and some scheduled departures are
cancelled without explanation. Many of the new carriers are
struggling to survive. Check with your travel agent, tour
operator, or the Government of India Tourist Office for the
latest information on private carriers and flight schedules.
Currently, fares for all carriers, including Indian Airlines,
are about 40%-50% higher than air-conditioned first-class tickets
on trains to the same destinations, but travel by air is much
For domestic flights, get your tickets when you purchase your
international ticket to the subcontinent if possible. Some
carriers are not allowed to sell their tickets outside India. Be
certain tickets and not just reservations are confirmed. Indian
Airlines is notorious for overbooking to important destinations,
and you can be stranded with no recourse. Never schedule
back-to-back flights; plan enough time for unexpected delays.
BETWEEN THE AIRPORT AND TOWN
The trip between Delhi's airports and the city should take about
30 minutes if you arrive before 9 AM or after 8 PM. At other
times, traffic near the city center can increase the time to an
hour. Most hotels provide complimentary airport transfers if
you are staying in a suite or on an executive floor. All hotels,
however, will provide airport transfers for about Rs. 500 to Rs.
1000, depending on their location.
No Western-style limousines are available in India. If you want
a Mercedes Benz to transfer you to and from the airport, make
arrangements with your hotel or travel agency. It will cost
about Rs. 3000-Rs. 4000 each way.
This is the most convenient way to get to your hotel. Taxi
drivers are famous for overcharging and rigging their meters, so
use the prepaid taxi service offered at each airport. This service
is available at a designated counter outside the baggage-claim
area and inside the arrival terminal. Unfortunately, hucksters
have also set up similar services. Make certain that you go to
the counter operated by the police. Your destination and
amount of luggage determine the rate, which you pay in
advance at this counter. Your receipt includes your taxi's
license-plate number. When you leave the terminal, drivers and
touts will converge on you and offer "assistance." Avoid them
and wheel your own baggage cart if you have one to the line of
taxis outside the terminal. Taxis are black with yellow tops. If
you have trouble, head to the police-assistance booth, which is
also near the terminal exit. Once you get into the taxi, don't give
the driver the payment slip until you reach your destination. If
the driver demands more rupees, complain to the hotel
doorman. A taxi from the international airport to the city center
should cost about Rs. 200; from the domestic airport, about
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