Bangalore's new and modern Kempegowda International Airport is the busiest in South India and third-busiest in the country, behind Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai. The city had originally been served by smaller HAL Airport since the 1940s, but as Bangalore grew into the tech capital of the country (now nicknamed the Silicon Valley of India), it needed a bigger and more adept airport to take on the crowds. Kempegowda International opened in 2008 with one single multi-level terminal that had the capacity to serve 11 million passengers per year.
A 2013 expansion increased its capacity to 25 million, but already, there are more passengers passing through per year than the airport is designed to handle. Bangalore's airport facilitates the arrival and departure of more than 600 flights per day. Tourists flock to the area to visit the elaborate temples, palaces, and pristine national parks of South India. There are more than 30 airlines to choose from, coming from and going to 46 domestic destinations and 21 international destinations.
Bangalore's airport is currently the second fastest growing airport in the world, with nearly a 30-percent jump in air traffic in the second quarter of the 2018-2019 financial year. Having been open for only a decade, Kempegowda International Airport is rushing to keep up with demand, already doubling its passenger capacity just five years after opening. A second terminal is now in the works and will ultimately double the airport's capacity again by 2021, almost tripling it by 2030. When Terminal 2 is finished, all domestic flights will fly in and out of Terminal 1, exclusively.
The design of the new terminal is rooted in sustainability and will offer travelers an airy garden ambience, whereas the white and silver walls symbolize the technology that Bangalore is now known for.
Airport Code, Location, and Contact Information
Kempegowda International Airport (BLR) is named after the founder of Bangalore, Kempe Gowda I. It's further away from the city center than HAL Airport—about 25 miles (or 40 kilometers) from the city center as opposed to six miles. BLR is located north of the city in Devanahalli. Driving into the center typically takes an hour, but can take two hours during peak travel times.
- Website: www.bengaluruairport.com
- Flight Tracker: www.bengaluruairport.com/flightInformation/arrivals
- Map: goo.gl/maps/n1RRH2DPd58L51VV7
- Phone Number: +91 1800 425 4425
Know Before You Go
For now, domestic and international gates at BLR are all housed under one roof. The single-terminal layout is much simpler and easier to navigate than other airports of its caliber (think about John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City: only slightly busier and designed with a whopping six terminals). Domestic and international both share the same check-in hall and behind the ticket counters are 20 departure gates. Airlines at Kempegowda International include Air France, British Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, and dozens more.
BLR is a hub for IndiGo, AirAsia India, Alliance Air, GoAir, and Star Air. It's also a focus city for Air India and SpiceJet.
With all gates, shops, and dining housed in one building, there's no need for an automated people mover at BLR. It does, however, have a seperate terminal for Hajj pilgrims, which covers an area of 16,000 square feet and can accommodate 600 passengers at a time. Until 2018, men and women were screened separately at BLR, but thanks to a new, more cohesive screening system, everyone gets screened together, which has reduced waiting times significantly.
Kempegowda International Airport often experiences fog, especially early in the mornings and in the evenings, from November to February. If traveling during these times, be prepared for flight delays or cancellations.
There are three parking lots at BLR: a two-wheeler lot, one budget, and one premium. P1, located on the west side of the airport, is dedicated entirely to motorbikes, seeing as they're such a major means of transportation here. Parking a two-wheeler in P1 costs 20 rupees an hour or 120 rupees for the day. Parking a car in P2, the budget lot, costs 100 rupees an hour for the first two hours and 50 rupees per hour after that, up to 500 rupees for the day. P3 is the premium lot. It's located closest to the terminal, adjacent the taxi lot, and costs 100 rupees for the first hour and 50 rupees for every hour after that.
There is no daily maximum.
Alternatively, passengers can be dropped off and picked up for free outside the airport terminal, as long as vehicles don't stop for longer than 90 seconds. However, any non-passenger who wishes to enter the airport must purchase a visitor ticket, which is good for up to two hours and costs 100 rupees ($1.41 USD). Visitor tickets are sold curbside near the Arrivals Hall.
BLR is about a 40-minute drive from the city center. Most tourists take taxis or public transportation, but those who do drive should take National Highway 44 out of the city and drive south about 12 miles before exiting at the airport, which is well signposted.
Public Transportation and Taxis
A metered taxi from the airport to the city center costs around 800 rupees one way. Karnataka Taxi, MegaCabs, and Meru Cabs are the official taxis that service the airport and you can find them just outside the terminal in the designated taxi area. You can keep the cost down by opting for a non-air conditioned trip.
Ride share apps like Uber and Ola operate from the airport as well and have dedicated pick-up zones. The Uber Zone is located behind Cafe Coffee Day and the Ola Zone is near P2 parking, just beyond the bus stop. The fares are slightly cheaper than regular metered taxis.
Taking a taxi, however, is the most costly option. Many people prefer to use Vayu Vajra, the airport shuttle bus service provided by Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), instead. These Volvo buses are scheduled to depart every 30 minutes, around the clock, and offer 11 different routes from the city. The cost is 170 to 300 rupees one way, depending on the distance. There's also the Flybus, which transports passengers from the terminal to Mysore and Manipal.
Note that auto rickshaws (commonly known as tuk tuks) are not permitted inside the airport. Passengers may be dropped off at the entrance to Trumpet Flyover on National Highway 7 and take a shuttle bus (10 rupees) to the airport.
Where to Eat and Drink
As to be expected, Bangalore's airport is just too modern and sophisticated to limit itself to the standard airport fare. Rather than fast food and grab-and-go sandwiches, have a real culinary experience at La Tapenade Mediterranean Cafe, opposite Gate 33, La Alta Vita, an Italian trattoria opposite Gate 12, or 7 Tawas, serving up authentic South Indian food opposite Gate 35. Quick eats include Taste of India, opposite Gate 9, Street Foods by Punjab Grill, opposite Gate 14, or Noodle (Asian), opposite Gate 35.
Wash your food down with a cocktail from Bar 380, adjacent Gate 37, or a cup of hot chai from Chai Point in arrivals.
In addition to the airline lounges of Kingfisher Airlines, Jet Airways, Air India, and Oberoi Group—all of which can be accessed by members and passengers of said airline—BLR also has two Plaza Premium Lounges and Above Ground Level Lounges apiece. The former, located in both domestic and international areas of the terminal, accepts select Air India and Jet Airways passengers, Priority Pass cardholders, select American Express and other credit card holders, and paying passengers. It offers a wide variety of food and beverages, bar, business center facilities, showers, massage and spa.
The latter, also offered in both domestic and international areas of the terminal, is a stylish and spacious lounge that offers value-for-money buffet dining, a bar, and business center. It can be accessed by Priority Pass cardholders, MasterCard Club Members, Diners Club cardholders, and paying passengers.
Wifi and Charging Stations
Wifi is available at Kempegowda International Airport, but can only be accessed by holders of an Indian mobile phone. Once you're registered, you will be prompted to enter a password that is sent via text message. If you don't have a local number, you can use one of the computers at the free-to-use internet stations located throughout the terminal. Power stations, with eight outlets apiece, are located at every gate.
Airport Tips and Tidbits
- Porters can be hired to carry luggage. The charge is 200 rupees for domestic and international departures, and domestic arrivals. It's 300 rupees for international arrivals.
- A left luggage facility is provided in the arrivals area. The cost ranges from 250 rupees for up to 12 hours to 2,500 rupees for up to 120 hours. Maximum duration of storage is five days.
- Note that you may need coins to access some restrooms at the airport.