I had to fly to Chennai from Bengaluru in India on 15th August 2018. My flight was scheduled to depart at around 11 am from Bengaluru's Kempegowda International Airport. I had made an online booking through Air India's website for my scheduled flight. However, my flight was delayed and the re-scheduled departure was now at 3 pm. I had plenty of time to check out my maiden visit to Bengaluru's Kempegowda International Airport. As usual, I started off from home at 7 am to travel by public transport BMTC bus to Kempegowda Bus Station in Central Bengaluru. BMTC is the flagship public transport carrier in Bengaluru and operates intra-city shuttles extensively in Bengaluru. BMTC has also made special arrangements for air travelers to connect to Bengaluru's Kempegowda International Airport from Central Bus Station located at Kempegowda Bus Station.
BMTC operates dedicated air-conditioned shuttles titled 'Vayu Vajra' to the airport on a round-the-clock basis. My shuttle from Kempegwoda Bus Station operates on route number KIAS-9 to Bengaluru's Kempegowda International Airport via Shivananda Circle, Mekhri Circle, UAS College, Hebbal, IAF bus stop to finally reach the airport. The shuttle was ready to depart from the bus bay at 7.30 am. I quickly got in and settled in my seat. The crew collected the ticket fare and it was around INR 235/- to the airport. The bus was packed in the morning as it was a weekend holiday along with the celebration of India's Independence Day falling on the same day.
Entering The Airport
The shuttle made a smooth journey in the early morning to the airport as the traffic was less. We soon made it to the airport at around 8.25. am and it took us nearly an hour to reach the airport from Bengaluru's Central Bus station. I got off from the BMTC shuttle which parked the bus opposite to departure gates at the airport's BMTC bus terminal. I could witness an early morning crowd at the Departure hall of the airport. I waited my turn to get inside the terminal after verification of my e-ticket with the identity card. As soon as I entered the departure hall, I quickly rushed to Air India's economy waiting in line to get my boarding pass. After waiting for about 20 minutes in the line, my turn to present the identity card and e-ticket came up.
The ticketing agent quickly scanned the e-ticket and informed me that I need to wait till 9 am to get the final status of my flight. I had no choice but to leave the counter. At first, I sensed that there might be a delay in issuing the boarding pass though my flight was on time as per the display screen. I soon spotted the Cafe Coffee Day outlet in the corner of the departure hall. I had to wait for about ten minutes in the queue to place my order and soon I was sipping a cup of hot coffee.
I entered Air India's boarding gate lane for economy class passengers at around 9 am. Yet again I had to wait for about 15-20 minutes to arrive at the ticketing counter. I presented my e-ticket and identity card at the counter and my ticket was scanned. This time the scan was successful and I was issued a boarding pass for my trip to Chennai and as requested I was allotted a window seat in the last row of the Airbus aircraft. After collecting my boarding pass, I headed to the security check area located on the first floor. After the security check I rushed off to my boarding gate to view the status of my departure and it was not yet updated. As I had plenty of time ahead of the scheduled departure at 11 am, I headed to have some yummy breakfast.
Breakfast At The Airport
The restaurant selling the breakfast on the mezzanine floor was crowded too. I had to wait again for my turn to pay cash and order for breakfast and 15 minutes passed off without any hassle. I had ordered yummy idli vada and masala dosa along with a cup of hot filter coffee. I relished and enjoyed the breakfast at the airport's restaurant.
Soon it was time to head to the departure gates and I could see that all the passengers were waiting at the boarding gate to get the final status of the flight departure time. However, at around 10.45 am I along with several passengers received an SMS alert informing me about the delay in departure of my flight and the re-scheduled time at 3 pm. Many passengers were anxious and at 11 am an official announcement was made regarding the delay in departure. Some of the passengers intended to get on to another connecting flight while some had to cancel the plans.
I was feeling a bit relaxed after the official announcement was made. I was happy that I had plenty of time to spend my first time at the airport. The aircraft crew informed the passengers that the lunch was made available at around 12.30 pm only for the Chennai-bound passengers. I quickly glanced through the boarding hall and found a display board leading to the 'Above Ground Level' lounge. Since this was my first time at the airport, I decided to try the lounge and have lunch before the scheduled departure at 3 pm.
Lunch At The Lounge
'Above Level Lounge' is located on the top floor of the boarding hall. One can gain entry to the lounge through the elevators and staircase. As soon as I entered the lounge floor, the reception desk was abuzz with a long queue of passengers who wished to visit the lounge. I had to wait here for another 15 minutes to make the payment at the reception desk. The payment was successful and I opted for the non-alcoholic beverages and veg food option. The lounge was busy with many passengers as it was a weekend holiday. I headed to a lounge chair to keep my backpack tucked into it safely so that it is easier for me to have lunch. Upon arrival, I was greeted with a choice of mango or orange juice as a welcome drink. I opted for orange juice and it was very refreshing to start off my lunch course.
Soon I made a quick tour of the lounge area and food spread. The lounge had an excellent buffet arrangement with a wide variety of North Indian and South Indian cuisines. The lounge also had a live counter catering to dosa and paratha requests by the guests. I also had a look at the starters which were offered to the guests as a special dish on the occasion of Indian Independence Day. A special pastry made of tri-color with sweets was offered to the guests. I quickly grabbed spring rolls as a starter and tasted the pastry along with sweets. It was tasty and had an interesting aroma due to the freshness.Next, I headed to opt for main course lunch. The following items were available to the guests
- Welcome drink
- A choice of paratha/naan
- Vegetable Salad
- Vegetarian Gravy
- Paneer Dish
- Basmati Rice
- Fried Rice
- Curd Rice
- Choice of freshly prepared dosas
- Rose milk/Sweet Lassi
I opted for a naan, vegetarian gravy, paneer dish, fried rice, papad, curd rice, sweets, and rose milk. The lunch was wholesome and I enjoyed the food at the lounge. Since it was a special day, the ambiance was vibrant with a festive spirit and guests had ample time to spend at the lounge with a wide variety of food at the lounge. After my lunch, I had some more time before the scheduled departure time at 3 pm. I headed to recliners to take a nap and read a newspaper. I spent some time relaxing at the lounge and also got a good view of the busy departure hall.
The lounge also has a flight departure display screen. I noticed that my boarding gate for the Air India flight to Chennai was announced with the scheduled departure at 3 pm. I quickly grabbed my backpack and rushed to the boarding gate.
Final Departure From Bengaluru
I could spot many passengers bound to Chennai already waiting at the gate. Since my seat was located in the last row of the flight, the last row passengers were called first to the departure gate. Soon we could spot the arrival of our Air India flight specially arranged from Chennai, (as informed by the airline staff). The boarding gates were opened and I was the first person to board the flight. I settled in my seat with a good view of the apron of Bengaluru's Kempegowda International Airport.
Soon the flight was full of passengers with the exception of up to five seats which remained vacant due to last-minute cancellations. The flight was one time and left Bengaluru at 3 pm. The weather outside was gloomy with few spells of rain showers witnessed at Bengaluru and there was no sunshine. We made it to Chennai within 40 minutes and landed in Chennai at 3.45 pm. The flight was delayed for about five hours but I had sufficient time to enjoy and relish the food at the airport's lounge.
Have you visited an airport lounge?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Varun Dambal (author) from Bangalore on May 16, 2021:
Thanks for the comments
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on May 16, 2021:
Varun, you have made a detailed review. Interesting reading. Thanks.
Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on May 16, 2021:
Thanks Varun for the detailed review. I have never tried this "above level lounge" but the way you describe the offerings, it sounds good. My normal routine at Bangalore airport has always been to grab a quick snack or even a meal at "Malgudis" and push off. Now I guess I will explore a bit more. Thanks for sharing.
Liz Westwood from UK on May 16, 2021:
This is a detailed and interesting account of your time at the airport. We have used airport lounges twice when we had the option as a free offer. It was an interesting experience.