Indian Airport Security: Overmanned yet ineffective

Forty-seven cases of disappearance of gold were reported from (the Custom’s vault at) IGI Airport having a total quantity of 67.40 kg between April and October 2016.. ET

So that like one theft every four days over the six month period totaling to ~200 crore from a single airport.Similar admissions were made in Jan 2014, April 2014, Dec 2014, June 2015 and now every 4th day in 2016. God only knows if we collect the data from all the airports of India how many thousands of crore will the figure add up to. So this is not an isolated incident or period of mayhem, but systematic theft most likely in collusion with the customs authority.

This is when Indian airports have one of the highest concentration of security personnel. Most international airports you can walk from car-parking to security to aircraft seat with a maximum of 1-2 human contact but it will take a dozen security personal interactions (irrespective of your race, religion or ethnic profile).

Firstly at the airport entrance a guy will check your ID & ticket (but has no means to verify the authenticity of your claims) This might be followed by a random baggage check (but I am not counting it as it is alleged to be random)

(2) Then Indian airports don’t accept digital check in on your phone/tablet. Also unlike Frankfurt airport, there is no automated baggage drop off. So you need to visit the check in counter/baggage drop off. Unfortunately the queue will be 30+ min even in Bangalore airport which is one of the newest airport in India and had the luxury of having the state of the art processes.

(3) Then at the security scan there will be one guy at the hand-baggage line. His job is to ensure that you have attached a small tag to every bag and give you token for the bag you deposited

(4) Most airports have an automated process of passing through the metal detectors. Unless the door frame machine detects something or you have not been flagged, you can just walk over and collect your check-in bag. But in India, every passenger & staff has to be physically frisked. Then he will physically stamp your boarding pass and give you blessings to fly.

(5) Wait, your security scan is not over. A guy will personally collect your token (step 3) and hand you your bag back. His job is to stamp the tags on each and every bag. If by chance you miss his blessings, you will be asked to repeat the step 3 to 5 again.

(6) At the immigration, similarly you will a guy whose job is segregate foreign passport holder, Indian passports with ECNR and Indian passports without ECNR. Probably India is the only country in the world where even a citizen with passport still requires emigration checks.

(7) Then a passport officer who will check your passport, visa, return tickets etc. Same to what you have in any international airport.

(8) a guy at the exit of passport office to physically check if your passport was stamped with the flight date or not. Apparently, he cannot observe what happened just 5 meters back in a queue.

(9) then at a boarding gate, an airline official will scan your boarding pass (some airports abroad have automated it but most have not.. so won’t crib)

(10) Another guy just 2m away checking if you have the right ticket. Apparently there is some trust issue between two organizations hence the need of additional manpower. What is more that he will again check the stamp in your bag. I haven’t seen it anywere

(11) Now the icing on the cake. Another guy will check your tickets at the other end of aerobridge. Guys it is a 5m long tube, are they seriously expecting teleportation?

(12) Many domestic airlines do a milkrun. i.e. they fly a big loop dropping/picking up passengers in the meantime. So every halt means somebody will wake you up, ask you to produce your boarding pass and identify your bags. Can’t they check with the passenger manifest and disturb only those guys who are not in their designated seats?

No security can be fool proof, but is Indian solution to create jobs for policemen or to improve the security. What is has achieved is that the boarding & alighting time for India is probably the highest in the world.

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2 thoughts on “Indian Airport Security: Overmanned yet ineffective

  1. Pingback: Human touch at Srinagar airport | e-Nagar

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