Monday, April 7, 2014

Kempegowda International Airport - An Experience, Bangalore

I have always loved the elegance of the Bangalore Airport - KIAL (Kempegowda International airport. The glass ceiling makes way for all natural light during the day while the nights are well lit, unlike various airports when the lighting just seems inconsistent.In numerous visits what has worked for me is the spaciousness, the lighting (both natural and generated) and the cleanliness.

This view only got renewed when I got the privilege of spending a day at the airport, exploring the new offerings that are now in place for a discerning traveler. For this specific day, the corporate office of KIAL organized for journalist passes which provided us with special access to the airport terminal. We did get through special lines meant for the airport crew and team but I must make a mention that, "At no point in time was the security compromised. We did go through the same elaborate security check process as would anyone at KIAL."

Post its inauguration in May 2008, the airport recently underwent an expansion to increase its capacity to support 18 million passengers per year. With this expansion, KIAL has not only achieved increase in capacity but has also given travelers numerous reasons to arrive in early to the airport and spend time experiencing a wide array of services that have now been introduced. While it was exciting, it was

For travelers with lots of time on hand:
On the international departure side of the airport, 'Bar 380' is the new and swanky bar. It offers the best of views of the one and only airport runway and the Bangalore landmark 'Nandi Hills'. The name 'Bar 380 Degrees' is an ode to the first A-380 which is expected to make its first landing at the Bangalore airport in the near future. Going by the theme, the menu presented is in the form of a passport with a lovely listing of international food and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). I tried the 'BIAL French fries', 'Bruschetta', 'fish and chips' and a lovely 'fresh watermelon juice. My pick of the lot was the good old 'Fish and Chips' and the fresh watermelon juice. Pricing here definitely intrigues me as it busts the age old myth that, "Pricing at airports are really unreasonable and sky high."

Clockwise from the top: Menu for the day, Coaster and Passport style menu at Bar 380

Sampler Platter

Known to have one of the highest international traffic in the country, the airport has a fabulous duty free shop which boasts of a lovely collection of duty free goods like alcohol, perfumes and a lot more at prices better than US, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong airport; to name a few. If your question is - Did I get to buy liquor from the duty free shop? My answer is  - 'No, as a boarding pass is mandatory'. But, how I wish....

Unlike most airports, the emphasis here is on serving freshly prepared food and beverages to travelers. Keeping this in mind, in addition to 'Bar 380' KIAL has also introduced 3 other restaurants - 'Noodle Bar', '7 Tawas' and 'Malgudi Tiffin Center'. '7 Tawas' offers North Indian food like samosa chaat, kathi rolls and more while 'Noodle Bar' offer Chinese food where one gets to assemble their own noodles for instance. At both these restaurants, you get to see the food being prepared right in front of you. When can you grab a grub? Anytime of the day or night - It operates round the clock.

Masala Chaas @ 7 Tawas

Chicken Tikka Kathi Roll

Busy work schedules sometimes allow no time for a relaxed spa treatment in the regular course of life. So when at the airport with time available before your flight takes off, it might be a good idea to indulge in a relaxing spa treatment at the O2 spa.

O2 Spa

By this time, it felt like I wouldn't be able to eat anymore. But the signature offering at the airport is 'Malgudi Tiffin Center' (MTC) was yet to be visited. Located on the domestic side of the terminal, this restaurant has a feel of the refurbished house shown in RK Laxman's 'Malgudi days'. Specializing in the cuisine of South India's Coastline covering Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, this restaurant is a must visit for its sheer delicacies. 

The food arrived and I was all hungry again. A look at the thali and I knew 'It was a trap!' 'A food trap'; a plate full of food that looked downright delicious. I got to try the 'Gongura Kodi (Chicken)', 'Mangalore Fish Curry' and 'Mutton Varutharacha Curry' with an assortment of accompaniments like 'Malabar Paratha, 'kallappam', 'iddiappam', 'sannas' and 'rice'. Suddenly, I couldn't stop eating for its sheer deliciousness. For dessert there was 'Palada Payasam' and the meal was finally rounded off with a glass full of 'cold badam milk'.
Non-Vegetarian Thali

Vegetarian Thali

MTC opens early at 5:30 AM for breakfast and operates all through till 10:30 PM serving and catering to travelers delicious courses of meals. A breakfast and any other meal at MTC will cost around Rs. 350 and Rs. 900  plus taxes for two, respectively. Totally worth the experience.

For travellers with not much time on hand:
The airport very thoughtfully has also set up express counters at both - international and domestic sections of the airport terminal. For continental stuff, there is 'Urban Food Market' which serves pastries, sandwiches, pizzas, burgers and more. It's an apt outlet for those who want something quick - to go.

For the Indian fare there is Malgudi Tiffin Express where you can 'Grab-N-Go' some south Indian delicacies like pakodas, bajjis, rice varieties, some tea or coffee; makes for a perfect accompaniment and an easy way to kill time on flight.

For the non-travelers:
Are you visiting the airport only because you love to drive down the best road in Bangalore? Yes, the very same newly opened stretch of road between Hebbal to the airport? Then there is a lot of grub for you as well - CCD, Cafe Noir, Hatti Kappi, subway and more. And guess what! For all of this stuff, you just need a parking space for your vehicle. No air ticket or no boarding pass required. Again, open round the clock. :)

Signing off:
RendevouzNon-Travelers - Enjoy your drive and some grub available outside the airport complex.
Travelers - Bon Voyage! And, do include the airport experiences in your travel itinerary .

Address: Terminal 1 of Kempegowda International Airport

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