Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA)
AddressShamshabad, Gollapalle Khurd, Telangana 501218, India
The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport is one of two airports in Hyderabad, India, and the only one that's capable of receiving international flights. It sees more than 20 million passengers annually, making it the eighth busiest airport in India. Many tourists use it as a gateway to the state of Telangana and its capital city, which is east of Mumbai and south of New Delhi.
Since opening in 2008, the airport has seen an increase in passengers of about 14 percent per year, on average. It's currently operating overcapacity, which is why the government is planning a billion-dollar expansion to double its size. Soon, it will be able to accommodate 40 million passengers per year, the same as Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, which is the second-largest in the country. The expansion plan also includes a metro rail link and a mega convention center that is slated to be India's largest.
For now, though, the facilities at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport are humble but sufficient. It has a single integrated domestic and international terminal, 92 check-in counters, and an Airport Village located outside the arrivals hall, which has food and beverage counters. Despite its small size, Hyderabad's airport is famously eco-friendly. In fact, it was the first airport in its category to win the ACI Asia-Pacific Level 3+ Airport Carbon Accreditation for carbon neutrality. Additionally, the 1,500-acre village that is currently being developed adjacent to the airport is being promoted as India's first smart, greenfield airport city.
Airport Code, Location, and Contact Information
- Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), named after a former Indian Prime Minister, is located 19 miles southwest of the city center. It's about a 30-minute drive from Golconda Fort, Indira Park, KBR National Park, Birla Mandir, the famous Buddha Statue, and downtown.
- Website: https://www.hyderabad.aero/traveller.aspx
- Flight Tracker: https://www.hyderabad.aero/flight-information.aspx
- Map: https://g.page/rgiahyd
- Phone Number: +91 40 6654 6370
Know Before You Go
RGIA has two runways, one cargo terminal, and a single passenger terminal. International flights arrive in and depart from the western side of the terminal, while the eastern side is reserved for domestic flights. Rajiv Gandhi International Airport's simplistic rectangular shape makes it a breeze to navigate. A cruise down the center of it will reveal ample shopping and dining options surrounded by the nine gates that occupy the perimeter.
There are 26 passenger airlines that fly in and out of RGIA, including British Airways, Emirates, IndiGo, and SpiceJet. Major international destinations include Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Abu Dhabi. The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport also services eight cargo airlines and is home to India's first modular, integrated cargo facility, which features a Pharma Zone that provides a temperature-controlled environment.
It may not be India's largest or busiest airport (not even in the top five, in fact), but Rajiv Gandhi International is surprisingly high-tech. In 2019, it launched the country's first biometric face recognition facility for domestic flights, which eliminates the need for passengers to show boarding passes.
The parking lot at Rajiv Gandhi International has space for 3,000 vehicles and can accommodate both short-term and long-term parking. It's located just outside the terminal and features a go-kart course for some pre-flight fun. Rates vary depending on vehicle size, but the first 15 minutes are always free. After that, cars pay 50 rupees ($.70 USD) for the first half-hour and up to 300 rupees ($4.22 USD) for 24 hours. Motorbikes pay 30 rupees for the first two hours and 100 rupees for 24 hours. The rate for multi-day parking is 200 rupees for every 24 hours. There's a valet parking service available at the departure level, too.
Driving in India is not the simplest of feats. Tourists primarily stick to taxis, buses, and other forms of transportation. However, the trek from downtown Hyderabad to RGIA takes about 35 minutes via National Highway 765. After about 5 miles, you'll see signs to Airport Approach Road.
Public Transportation and Taxis
One of the easiest ways to get to the city center from the airport is to take a prepaid taxi. Opt for the licensed Meru and Sky Cabs, which can be found in the parking area outside the terminal. Fares are not fixed and can range between 500 to 1,000 rupees, depending on the distance. Expect a 25-percent surcharge for night rides. You may also call an Uber or Ola if you're able to connect to the airport wifi on your phone. With these, drivers will collect you at the dedicated pickup zones, which are signposted.
Alternatively, Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) operates a public bus—called the Pushpak Airport Liner Express Bus Service—that transports passengers from the airport to about 20 destinations around the city. It's luxurious—air conditioning!—and costs between 100 and 250 rupees, depending on the distance. The buses run from 3 a.m. until midnight.
Where to Eat and Drink
The dining options at RGIA include a food court, grab-and-go quick bites, and sit-down restaurants and bars. In domestic departures, there's Network Bar, a cocktail lounge; Monsoon Bar, serving up Indian and Mediterranean cuisine; Taste of India; and Indian Paradise—all of which have comfortable and quiet seating areas. The Island Café & Bar offers a similar atmosphere in the international departures area. There, you'll also find Bikanervala, a food court offering traditional Indian sweets and popular dishes, as well as Tiffin Express, Dosa Factory, and a number of coffee kiosks for your caffeine fix.
How to Spend Your Layover
It isn't too often that you're able to turn a boring old layover into a bonafide thrill ride, but thanks to RGIA's go-kart course (located in the car park area), you can. Prices range from 335 to 700 rupees, depending on the "level," or how many laps you take.
For a more relaxing experience, you can have a nap and a shower at the Plaza Premium Transit Hotel, located below the Airport Village opposite the car park. Rates are based on hours of use. Leave your bags at the 24-hour left luggage service, whose counter is outside the arrivals hall.
RGIA has three Plaza Premium lounges that are located in both domestic and international departures as well as the arrivals hall. The international lounge is open 24 hours, while the domestic lounge is open from 4.30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Facilities include a business center, buffet and drinks bar, showers, massage, and first aid. You may purchase single-use passes for the two departures lounges, and may pay at the door (or hold a membership card, of course) for all three.
Wifi and Charging Stations
Wifi is free for the first two hours, but only those who have an Indian cell phone number are able to receive a PIN number via text to use it. There's also an on-demand entertainment service that allows passengers to download movies at designated hotspots. Passengers shouldn't have a problem locating a charging point in the airport, either.
Airport Tips and Tidbits
- RGIA is a popular pit stop not just for flyers, but for folks passing through on the ground, too. In fact, visitors can even purchase a ticket to the airport and explore the Airport Village area as a guest.
- Hyderabad is one of only four cities (including Mumbai, Bangalore, and Navi Mumbai) that has CarterX, a convenient door-to-door baggage transfer service that will transport heavy luggage between the airport and your hotel so you don't have to.