Have travel plans over the upcoming long weekend around Independence Day? If it involves a flight, be prepared to reach the airport well in advance. "Attention Flyers: Due to enhanced security arrangements, flyers are requested to reach Delhi Airport minimum 4 hours in advance for all domestic flights and 4 hours in advance for all international flights," Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, which is operated by Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), tweeted on its official Twitter handle on Wednesday. Another tweet read that "the entry to meters and greeters area will be barred with effective from 10th August to 20th August 2019. Any inconvenience caused is regretted".
That essentially means that no visitor passes will be issued for 10 days starting Saturday and flyers have to schedule a longer waiting time at the airport. Previously, you could walk into the airport an hour before the scheduled departure of domestic flights, and 3 hours for international flights.
Further, the entry to meters and greeters area will be barred w.e.f. 10th August to 20th August 2019. Any inconvenience caused is regretted. [2/2]— Delhi Airport (@DelhiAirport) August 7, 2019
This development comes on the heels of the August 6 advisory issued by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) to the state governments as well as national and private airport operators, directing them to step up security in the wake of the revocation of Article 370 - which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir - earlier this week. The aviation security agency added that "civil aviation has emerged as a soft target for terrorist attacks".
According to reports, the first advisory warned Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Cochin, Nagpur and Chandigarh airports that they may be targetted, while the latest advisory prescribed more stringent security protocols to be followed at airports over the next three weeks. For instance, flyers should be prepared for intensive random security checks of their vehicles, including by bomb disposal and dog squads. "The random checks would be done for at least 10 per cent of the vehicles till August 31," read the advisory, adding that the screening will be conducted at least one km away from the airport terminal or "as per availability of space for such barriers/Naka/vehicles checkpoints, which shall be sufficiently away from the airports".
Furthermore, passengers will reportedly be subject to a 100 per cent ''full pat-down'' search at the pre-embarkation security checkpoint while enhanced screening and protection of hold baggage is also on the cards, IANS reported. Parking will be banned for all vehicles in front of the terminal buildings.
Airlines like IndiGo and Vistara have also taken to Twitter to inform their customers of the new rules. "#6ETravelUpdate: Due to enhanced security measures owing to Independence Day, passengers are advised to report at least 3 hrs prior departure to avoid any hassle," IndiGo tweeted. Vistara tweeted a similar alert.
Clearly, you can no longer afford to rush into the airport an hour before the boarding gate closes, assuming that a printout of your boarding pass will let you zip through.
With PTI inputs