Is This Farewell?

Bags and trolleys on a luggage cart at the airport
Bags and trolleys on a luggage cart at the airportPhoto: Shutterstock

Let me begin this month's column by wishing every one of you a very happy new year! My wife and I have made it a ritual to take time off together at the end of every year. We say that it's how we wrap up a year that's been and build momentum towards the one ahead, but the truth is that it's just a wonderful excuse to holiday together! I do hope that all of you find some time for the things that make you happy, too.

My travels over the last few years have involved transits through several airports in India and abroad, including the ones that are often the subject of much admiration and critical acclaim. And yet, until very recently, my favourite airport in the world was the one at home in Chennai. Before anyone accuses me of hometown bias, let me clarify that I'm fully aware that the Chennai airport is hardly impressive. Yes, Dubai is an experience unto itself, Frankfurt is massive, Changi is astounding, and the new terminal at Bangalore could easily pass off as a breathtaking hanging garden, but there is one thing that Chennai still had going for it­—a luggage weighing scale that could be used free of charge as soon as you entered the airport. Walk in, weigh your bag, and you immediately know whether you did your luggage math right. If needed, you had the opportunity to reorganise and spread the weight at leisure or enough time to make peace with the fact that you would soon be (further) lining the coffers of your chosen airline.

Yes, some airports have a "Service" where you can pay to have your luggage weighed, but that has never made any sense to me

Unlike a suave business traveller, I'm usually battling to stay within airline-imposed luggage restrictions. It's not a high-fashion problem but rather a "reality" issue. On most of my trips, I carry heavy motorcycle riding gear, parts and accessories, tools, supplies and often some camping equipment, too. And while I realise this is largely a "me" issue, going by the number of people I see with large bags in every check-in line, I suspect that most air travellers have their own version of a similar problem too.

When going through Chennai's newest international terminal recently, I couldn't help but notice that my trusted weighing scale had vanished. Yes, some airports have a "service" where you can pay to have your luggage weighed, but that has never made any sense to me. As luggage allowances grow smaller and wait times and lines at airports grow longer, it only leaves me with more time to worry whether my wallet is safe on a morning when I should be excited about many other things.

I don't know about you, but I'm usually trying to spend as little time as possible at an airport. So, I don't need gigantic lanterns, expansive (and expensive) food courts or the world's fastest hand dryers. All I wish for is the return of the humble weighing scale at the door.

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