Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Night(mare) of terminal touts

Dum Dum: Touts lying in wait to pounce on you, taxis geared to fleece, trolleys that can't be used and toilets that need cleaning. Calcutta airport at night is a shameful blast from the past.

Two passengers who passed through the international terminal at night last week - one was returning from Singapore and the other was on his way to Turkey - realised how little has changed in the four years since the integrated facility opened. The duo share their experiences with Metro.

Trolley touts

"Trolley neben, sir (Would you take a trolley, sir)?" they offered.

"No," said the passenger, who had just arrived on a Singapore Airlines flight.

It was around 11pm.

" Niye nin, sir (Take it, sir)!" one of the touts continued to plead.

None of the men had identity cards on them. The passenger would have thought they were porters had the paid service not been discontinued long ago.

When he shooed them away, the trio turned their attention to other people. Four years ago, this was a familiar sight. The modus operandi of offering "help" for cash is the same, only the timing of the touts seems to have changed.

Taxi trap

The passenger had barely stepped outside Gate 4A when a man asked: "Taxi lagbe (Need a taxi)?"

Barely five metres away, the passenger, who was then trying to book an Uber cab, was approached by another driver. He quoted Rs 600 for a ride to Kasba, pointing to his taxi illegally parked right in front of the arrival gate.

Pick-up pain

"Please come to Gate 4A," the passenger requested his Uber driver over phone. "We are not allowed to pick up people from anywhere but Gate 2A," he replied, pointing out that the passenger would otherwise have to pay Rs 100 as parking fee.

Unlike airports in the other metros, the integrated terminal still does not have a separate app-cab pick-up point for international passengers.
07/11/17 Telegraph