Mistrust and suspicion lengthen even short distances in Jammu Kashmir. This is one of the biggest ironies of our over-ambitious political world. For example, Srinagar International Airport, Sheikh-ul-Alam Airport, and Dal Lake, the famous tourist area, are not very far from each other. We took about thirty minutes (about 15 kilometers) to cover this distance when we landed in Srinagar on October 19, 2017. However, three days later when we wanted to take a return flight, the same journey took about two hours. Most of the time we were waiting in the queues. Finally, we had to request to the security personnel for queue jumping that was allowed after careful browsing of our tickets.
Boarding the flight from the airport was a big hassle and time consuming process because of multiple security checks. Here is the lowdown on the security checks:
Security Check 1
Before entering into the airport, passengers have to show their tickets and identity cards to security personnel for manual checking.
Then, they have to place their luggage into an X-ray machine for screening and wait for frisking in the gender-specific queues. Finally, the driver and the vehicle in which passengers are going to the airport are checked thoroughly.
Security Check 2
After successful completion of the security check one, the passengers load their luggage into the vehicles and get into the vehicles again and then proceed to the airport. At the airport, again all luggage, including checked and hand baggage, go into the airline-specific X-ray machine. At this level cameras and laptops remain in their cases. The passengers are frisked again.
Camera tripods are not allowed in the hand baggage for flights starting from Srinagar. For example, we brought a tripod as hand baggage in Jet Airways’ Delhi-Srinagar flight on October 19, 2017. However, when we returned by Jet Airways’ Srinagar-Delhi flight on October 22, 2017, the same tripod was not allowed in hand baggage. We had to request for a fragile tag and give it to the airline to store it in the cargo hold. It was delivered separately at our final destination, Lucknow. That means it was not placed on the conveyor belts installed at the airport.
Security Check 3
Hand baggage, including electronic items -cameras and laptops, go into X-ray machine once again. The passengers are frisked again. Then, the electronic and any other items that raise doubts in the mind of the security personnel handling the X-ray machine are checked manually.
The visitors have to display each item of the luggage in question for the manual inspection. In case of big professional cameras, the owners have to switch on the cameras and the live view screens. For extra lenses, they have to attach them to the cameras one by one and switch on the cameras and live view screens. When the inspector is satisfied, s/he will stamp the luggage tag and let the visitors go for the next step
Security Check 4
During this stage, the passengers have to identify their checked baggage. After successful baggage identification, the passengers are permitted to enter into the boarding gate area.
Security Check 5
Finally, when the passengers enter the respective boarding gates to board the flights, the passengers are again frisked before entering the airplane. The security personnel stamps the tags after completion of the frisking.
Very Important Tips
All passengers boarding a flight from the Srinagar Airport shall leave their hotels / or any other starting destinations at least four hours prior to the scheduled flight departure time. If the starting point is close to Dal Lake, four hours are enough. If the starting points are far off, calculate the time accordingly. Because of elaborate multiple security checks, the vehicle queues extend up to two kilometers or more before the airport.
The road has only three lanes. Two of these are open for common persons and one is earmarked for the VIPs.
The road is guarded by several security personnel equipped with sophisticated weapons and communication devices. The passengers need not be afraid of them. In case of emergency and delays despite of leaving the starting point in time, the passengers can show their valid air tickets and identity cards to the personnel on duty and request for queue jumping and lane switching, from the lane for the common persons to the lane for VIP for speeding up the process. So that they do not miss their flights.
Auto rickshaws are not allowed in the airports. So do not take an auto for the airport travel. Do take taxis or car rentals.
Happy, Safe, and Timely Boarding!