Long KIA queues as metro airports on high alert

The queues at the country's third busiest airport are widespread with passengers forced to stand for long hours at the baggage and security screening gates. (File image for representation)

Just recovering from the fog and Aero-India related flight disruptions, the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) here is witnessing long queues yet again, but for a different reason: Elaborate security checks triggered by a high alert after the Indo-Pak aerial showdown. 

The queues at the country's third busiest airport are widespread with passengers forced to stand for long hours at the baggage and security screening gates. Stressed by this, many travellers are taking to social media to vent out their frustration. 

Ananth Sampath, a passenger observed that he had to take off his shoe and belt at the security check. “I have not seen this in India before. Guess they need to buffer additional time at the airports. One hour is not enough,” he tweeted. 

The stress levels have gone up not only for passengers, but also for the airlines and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). “Tickets too have become more expensive due to cancelled flights,” noted another passenger, Mathew Thomas. 

The airport operator, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) had a response to the harried commuters, articulated in this tweet: “We are sorry for the trouble you had to go through. Strict security measures are due to high alert at all metro airports.”

On Saturday, the Centre had directed all airports and airlines in the country to enhance the existing security measures. Issuing the alert, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) had marked it to senior police officials of all states, in-charges of security at all airlines and airports, and officers of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). 

The alert applied to all civil aviation installations such as airports, airstrips, airfields, air force stations, helipads, flying schools, and aviation training institutes. Twenty specific enhanced security measures were cited to be in operation until further orders. 

Enhanced screening of passengers meant 100% full pat-down search at pre-embarkation security checkpoints. The BCAS directive also required enhanced random screening of the airport staff and visitors at the main entrance to the terminal building. 

Even before the alert, long security queues have been an issue at KIA. BIAL had introduced the Automatic Tray Retrieval System (ATRS) to speed up the screening process. Smart lanes with ATRS were designed to return empty trays automatically to the preparation area for passengers to place their bags and belongings. 

To reduce waiting time and congestion, families were also allowed to stay together and be screened together. KIA has 19 pre-embarkation gates for domestic passengers and six for international travellers.

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