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Old 24th July 2022, 22:08   #1
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Default Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

Introduction

This is a brief account of my experiences at two airports in India - the lesser known Tiruchirappalli (code TRZ) versus the bigger Hyderabad (Shamsabad) (code HYD). The intent here is to showcase how a smaller airport, although short on style, can be a surprisingly pleasant and hassle-free experience.

Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-trz_parking1.jpg

Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-trz_gate.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 24th July 2022 at 23:31.
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Old 24th July 2022, 22:23   #2
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Default re: Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

How did I get to use a lesser known Tiruchirappalli Airport?

I was in town on work, and had to go to Hyderabad at short notice. I knew that this airport was connected to Hyderabad by an ATR72 in the evening, but when I checked, I realised that the late evening ATR72 had made way for a morning service which was an A320. I booked myself on the morning departure as it made better sense to board at TRZ than go by road/ rail to Chennai and then fly out to Hyderabad.

Small yet significant information on the Tiruchirappalli Airport

For the uninitiated, Tiruchirappalli Airport in Tamil Nadu has apparently been functioning since pre-Independence times to cater to a mail service to/fro Colombo. Commercial flights started after independence. From what I know, there was a time in the 80s when this Airport would serve three commercial jet planes a day of the then Air Lanka to Colombo, but would have just one Indian Airlines Avro HS748 service to Chennai a day. Even today, this airport services more international flights than domestic - of the approx. twenty flights a day, six are domestic connecting Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, while the rest are international, connecting Colombo, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Some of the international services are daily while some of the Air India Express ones are on fewer scheduled days in every week.

Last edited by vigsom : 24th July 2022 at 23:40.
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Old 24th July 2022, 22:38   #3
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Default re: Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

Experience at Tiruchirappalli Airport

I took an autorickshaw to the airport, and realised on arrival that they aren't allowed inside the airport gate; got off at the gate, walked in, and was pleasantly surprised to see a beautiful parking, and an even more beautiful terminal against the morning sun. However, I was shocked to see a serpentine queue of passengers waiting to get into the terminal. Reason : There were two or three international departures lined up around that time and only two security personnel to check passengers and let them in. Although I was there two hours prior, I felt that this queue might play spoilsport to those arriving in late for baggage drop.

My fears were allayed as I was in the terminal in a mere 15 minutes, which was very good considering how long the queue was. Post that, my baggage drop, Security and move to the gate was another 20 minutes. This, despite the fact that the security check area was rather small.

The visual treat aka parking at Tiruchirappalli Airport
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-trz_parking1.jpg

Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-trz_massiveparking2.jpg

Terminal Building against the morning sun
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-trz_terminalmorningsun.jpg

Queue outside
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-trz_queueatentry.jpg

Pre-Baggage drop screening and belting
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-trz_bagband.jpg

Check-In and Baggage Drop Area
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-trz_checkinarea.jpg

Cafe before moving up to the gate
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-trz_gateareacafe.jpg

Passage to the new gate area
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-trz_newholdingarea.jpg

Gate Area
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-trz_gate.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 24th July 2022 at 23:34.
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Old 24th July 2022, 22:51   #4
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Default re: Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

Flight from Tiruchirappalli to Hyderabad

The aircraft assigned for this service was an A320ceo (the conventional engines and not the neo) that had just come in from Singapore. There was a new crew assigned for this flight from TRZ, who would fly to Hyderabad and onward to Delhi too. It was good to be on board an older A320 after a long time, and on-board service was good and quick. The aircraft had to taxi down the runway, make a 180 degree turn and then take off. While on board the aircraft, I could also see the new terminal building under construction.

Arrival Hyderabad

Rather uneventful and mundane, except that I managed a shot of a Saudia aircraft in its new livery.

The A320ceo
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-a320_ceo.jpg

Tiruchirappalli Airport - new terminal under construction
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-trz_newterminalunderconstn1.jpg

Inside the aircraft - wasn't too happy to see some seatback bits exposed as the fabric velcro had come off
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-a320ceo_inside.jpg

At the ramp at Hyderabad (Shamshabad) - note the Saudia aircraft in nice new livery
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-hyd_atramp.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 24th July 2022 at 23:35.
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Old 24th July 2022, 23:12   #5
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Default re: Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

Experiences at Hyderabad Airport

I needed to get a cab to take me to a place called Manoharabad on the Hyderabad - Nagpur highway, and was surprised to see no Uber or Ola accepting the booking despite a healthy amount being estimated. After three trials, I decided to check at the counter of another service provider whose folks were donning green T-Shirts (Quick Ride IIRC). They tried fooling me by showing the SUV fare of INR 3,500 when I knew that the actual fare by a sedan was in the region of INR 2,600. I eventually got my ride from Meru - a Verito diesel that had done some 5,07,000km but was mechanically perfect. No hassles whatsoever, and I had a great ride via the Nehru ORR.

Return to Hyderabad Airport after work

After completing my assignment in Hyderabad, I was back at the airport to experience some hassles, in stark contrast to what I saw in TRZ.

1. Some gates to the terminal were closed so had to do some walking
2. Management of the passenger queue inside the check in/ baggage drop area at Indigo was far from satisfactory - I saw several passengers jumping the queue and moving ahead since they were late for their flight(s)
3. Security Check - Saw many bags that would be diverted off the main belt to the loop line, where a CISF representative would ask for the bag to be opened to check for every electronic item inside.

TIP : When packing, please keep all electronic items on the tray. Here's what I do

a) put all chargers and USB drives in one see-through perforated case and put it along with the laptop bag in one large tray
b) Laptop, mobile, headphones in another large tray
c) all metallic items inside the bag

I was told by a security person that as long as the scanner can see electronics and metal items separately, they are fine. It is only when electronics and metals overlap that the bags go off the belt into the loop line.

The gate area is much improved from what I saw a few months back. The bus gate area at the lower level is cramped, as usual.

Approach to the various gates at Hyderabad Airport
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-hyd_dep_airbridgelevel1.jpg

Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-hyd_dep_airbridgelevel2.jpg

Bus Gates
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-hyd_dep_busgates.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 24th July 2022 at 23:37.
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Old 24th July 2022, 23:21   #6
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Default re: Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

The Final Leg

My next sector put me onto an A321neo which is essentially a stretch A320neo with more seating, higher thrust engines and two extra emergency exits.

Here is a clip on the pushback, taxi and take-off


On board, I also experienced some trouble opening a bottle of Cocojal, but finally figured out how to get it right.

How to open Cocojal
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-cocojal.jpg

Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-cocojal_howtoopen.jpg

And, finally, an imperfect landing - way down the runway.


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Old 24th July 2022, 23:28   #7
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Default re: Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

Closing Comments

It sure pays to take a flight out of a smaller airport - shorter time from entry to gate, faster exits, and quicker connectivity to towns closeby. The needle has moved significantly w.r.t air connectivity in India, and will move further. However, discipline is just not exercised after the aircraft has landed - people tend to get up and grab their bags even before the captain's announcement to disarm slides. I do hope this gets sorted out.
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Old 25th July 2022, 05:27   #8
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Default re: Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 25th July 2022, 09:20   #9
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Default re: Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

In general I prefer smaller airports too, they have a certain throwback charm to them. But I've realized that you can't generalize about airport efficiency based on size. Hyderabad is a large airport but I've always thought it's one of the most efficient. Can't recall ever getting stuck there during the process of checking in or security. On the other hand I remember long lines at Jabalpur airport in 2008 (i think) even though there were only about 4 flights a day there! The reason was this absolute idiot in charge of security check who took his job waay to seriously. Insisted on examining almost every bag physically and pulling stuff out.

Bangalore is obviously a large airport, but an example of inefficiency. The security staff there seem to take pleasure in delaying the whole process. Delhi on the other hand, much larger, more traffic, but more efficient. Goa - small but always a nightmare.

So, all depends on the staff and how the airport is run.
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Old 25th July 2022, 09:50   #10
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Default re: Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

Small airports for me any time. Since the last 10 years or so I have developed a dislike for flying because of chaotic airport conditions during peak hours. People are always jostling to get ahead in the queue - baggage screening, security check, grabbing some idly-sambhar, boarding, de-boarding, every experience feels like some competition and I find it exhausting. I also like walking straight to the aircraft. Standing in a bus with non-functional AC until they pack you like sardines is the worst part of flying.

--End of rant--
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Old 25th July 2022, 10:45   #11
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Default Re: Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
However, discipline is just not exercised after the aircraft has landed - people tend to get up and grab their bags even before the captain's announcement to disarm slides. I do hope this gets sorted out.
Some habits never change.

People just don't understand that just grabbing their bags doesn't mean they alight before the others in the rows ahead of them.

This behavior only inconveniences the fellow passengers and the air hostesses who have to run to them and ensure that they are put back in their seats, like school children.
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Old 25th July 2022, 11:53   #12
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Default Re: Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

Totally agree with you that smaller airports are easy to get in and out. The Hyd airport trip needs some planning. I start at least 3 hours to the airport before my flight. I think for the passenger behaviour, there is only one solution.

In India, we don't change, so I think the aircraft designers have to. Why can't they just have the entire fuselage of the plane open up fully (like Ferrari doors) and all passengers can jump out right away? It will solve the problem of passenger urgency as soon as a flight lands!
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Old 25th July 2022, 12:22   #13
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Default Re: Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

I wonder why they didn't allow the Auto Rick inside Trichy airport. I clearly remember getting off at the departure gates at Trichy airport, but that was several years back.

At Hyderabad, there is a separate queue for Hand Baggage passengers only. That is so convenient. Walk in, scan your boarding pass from your mobile, put your bags on X Ray, and off you go to the gates post security, right there. Super convenient process, and I wish other airports can replicate that too.
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Old 25th July 2022, 14:33   #14
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Default Re: Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

Quote:
Originally Posted by am1m View Post
Goa - small but always a nightmare.
Absolutely. And probably the only airport in the country (as far as I'm aware) that is shared between commercial operators and the Navy.
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Old 25th July 2022, 16:06   #15
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Default Re: Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)

My experience has primarily been with large airports such as HYD, DEL, BLR, BOM etc in India. I can only recall one bad experience which was at Delhi Terminal 3 in 2020 where it took us well over an hour to get through security for some reason; everything seemed to just be slow (no such thing during my last visit in April 2022). Otherwise, Hyderabad is always quick and pleasant, and Bangalore and Mumbai were decent too. Delhi is also usually pleasant in Terminal 3; Terminal 1 isn't the best in terms of efficiency but I haven't really had any bad experiences. I've never had the opportunity to visit Terminal 2.

My experience with smaller airports has been very different though. Jabalpur for example; the security check was NEVER done within a reasonable timeframe (at least during 2008-2011 when I had travelled a number of times). Baroda airport (before the expansion) seemed to be quite inconsistent in its experience, but everything has become much more streamlined now. Pondicherry was a pleasant experience with absolutely no hassle, while Goa was nothing short of a nightmare. It has been faster after arrival though, since it's a lot less walking and waiting for luggage.

So, according to my experiences, larger airports have been more consistent, but it is difficult to state whether it is them or the small airports that are better.

I like larger airports because I often spot interesting aircraft such as this: the last Air India 747-400 I ever saw (also visible is the tail of a British Airways Boeing 787-8).
Airport Experiences | Small airport (Tiruchirappalli) vs Larger one (Hyderabad)-air-india-747.jpg

Last edited by GForceEnjoyer : 25th July 2022 at 16:31. Reason: Typo.
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