As per the Times of India, the “left luggage” facilities for transit passengers at the Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, which were closed well before the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, still remain closed.
Airport operator GVK promoted, Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL) had closed down the luggage rooms, where transit passengers could leave their luggage behind and go about their business around the city, citing high security threats to the airports. MIAL has now decided not to re-open the luggage rooms inside the terminal building.
Mumbai is the primary gateway for many international passengers to and from India. The economic capital of India, Mumbai is also headquarters to many of India’s airlines like Air India, Jet, and Kingfisher. Mumbai airport has one the highest proportion of transit passengers in India. The lack of a “left luggage” facility is most felt here.
MIAL claims, “It is difficult to ascertain the contents of a bag inside the luggage room. We discontinued it due to security reasons”. It is a legitimate concern. But, then I ponder; transit passenger bags are already security screened, and as a double precaution, the bags can be screened again prior to being placed in the left luggage room.
The time line provides some clues. The luggage room at domestic terminal was discontinued three months ago, the one at the international terminal was pulled down when part of it was used for reconstruction. It is well known that Mumbai airport has a space constraint, and is this one of the real reasons ? After all, the left luggage facilities do not bring in revenue commiserate with the space they use.
The security threats have provided the airport operator, GVK promoted, MIAL, legitimate cover for the non-availability of luggage room facilities, which poses a problem for transit passengers who have a significant time to spend between their flights. Most of them are unable to leave the airport. since they are forced to carry their luggage along.
MAIL claims that Mumbai airport would reopen the luggage room, but there is no definite time line, and for sure it does not seem to be happening any time soon. As per information, there are plans to make luggage rooms outside the terminals, once the revamp of the international terminal is complete.
As per the plans, the passengers would be required to drop their bags at the collection centre of the airline, from where it would be transferred to the room. The luggage would also be screened before it is deposited there.
MIAL sources indicate that they have issued a letter of intent to the vendor who would take care of this facility in the future, and that there are plans to do the same at domestic terminal. At domestic terminal, luggage rooms are likely to be located near the car parking.
In the meantime, I advise Mumbai transit passengers to contact their arriving and departing airlines. There is a provision of leaving the luggage with the airline.