Drive, Don’t Fly

Savie Karnel and Sanchita Sen
27 May 2008

Two MiD DAY reporters set out simultaneously from Bangalore for Chennai, one by plane and the other by bus, to check out the relative merits of air and road travel. Savie Karnel, who flew from the Devanahalli airport, took 7 hours to reach central Chennai, while Sanchita Sen, who boarded a bus, took just 40 minutes more. Lesson: The long ride to the new airport takes the joy out of short haul flights. Passengers spend a lot of additional money, and save little or no time

If you suspected the long drive to the new airport would make your short haul flights way too expensive and time consuming, you were right.

MiD DAY did a reality check yesterday and found that a flight to Chennai would save you about 40 minutes, but cost you about Rs 4,300 more than if you took a bus.

We set out from Koramangala, which we thought was a good representative location to start from. It wasn’t as far flung on the southern periphery as Electronic City, or as close to the airport expressway as Hebbal.


Our destination was central Chennai. We booked two tickets, one on a private bus, and another on a Kingfisher flight. We began our journey simultaneously at 1.30 pm.

As we file our report from a hotel in Chennai, we bring you some lessons:

The distance to the airport is too much of a bother if you are in central or southern Bangalore, and are planning a trip to places such as Chennai. You have to worry about too many things: get on to cabs and buses, load and unload your baggage several times, and subject yourself to security checks and several other formalities. The new airport has other glitches. Its public address system is an abysmal failure, and the ground staff are still finding their feet.

Here is a detailed account of how our parallel journeys went.

The race begins

1.30 pm: Savie and Sanchita meet at Koramangala
1.45 pm: They wave goodbye to each other at Madivala, Hosur Road.

Sanchita’s journey

2.00 pm: Sanchita’s bus leaves for Chennai. Savie gets into a cab and heads for Devanahalli.

2.55 pm: Bus crosses Tamil Nadu border and enters Hosur
3.45 pm: 15-minute break at a Krishnagiri food joint
6.30 pm: 10-minute halt for tea at Vellore
8.30 pm: Bus reaches terminus at Koyambeedu in Chennai.
8.34 pm: Auto drivers try to fleece her, but a Tamil helps her fix the fare to Egmore at Rs 120
9.10 pm: Sanchita arrives at Hotel Marina Towers, Egmore

Savie’s journey

2.00 pm: Cab leaves for Devanahalli
3.56 pm: Arrives at airport. Cab ride has taken nearly two hours
4.10 pm: Goes to the airline counter for baggage check-in and boarding pass
4.16 pm: Proceeds for security check, and waits for flight announcement. Scheduled take-off: 5.20 pm.

Reporting time is 4.20 pm and boarding 4.50 pm

4.52 pm: Asks Kingfisher ground staff about departure and is told “Wait for the announcement!”
5.00 pm: Starts getting anxious and asks airline executive at gate to the tarmac. He replies, “Wait for the announcement. Boarding will be from Gate 7”
5.10 pm: Sits down near Gate 7. Announcements are faint, and not clear.
5.12 pm: Walks up to announcement desk. No help again.
5.16 pm: Notices a passenger walking towards Gate 7. Asks ground staff about flight status and is told, “We just began boarding.” Other passengers follow, but no announcement is made
5.20 pm: Boards the BMTC Volvo bus to the aircraft, and is kept waiting for 15 minutes
5.40 pm: Enters the aircraft
6.00 pm: Pilot says he is ready, but ATC clearance is delayed because of air traffic congestion
6.15 pm: The flight finally takes off. It is late by 55 minutes
7.20 pm: Lands at Chennai airport
7.32 pm: Takes a pre-paid taxi to Egmore
8.30 pm: Reaches Hotel Marina Towers and checks in
9.10 pm: Sanchita walks in, meets Savie

Cost of bus travel

Auto fare from Koramangala to Madivala: Rs 15
ABT Travels ticket to Chennai: Rs 390
Auto fare from Koyambeedu bus terminus to Marina Towers, Egmore: Rs 120

Cost of air travel

Cab fare from Madivala to Devanahalli: Rs 700
Kingfisher ticket for Chennai: Rs 3,888
Taxi fare from Chennai airport to Egmore: Rs 250

Difference in price: Rs 4,328
Difference in time between air travel and bus travel: 40 minutes

Source : The Mid-Day

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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