The 'VIP culture' at Chennai airport is soon to come to an end, following increasing requests for unauthorised facilitation of passengers inside terminals. According to a report by the Times of India, some passengers manage to get special facilities within the airport premises even though they are not entitled for it. Some others are said to have used airport staff as escorts to speed up the boarding process.
Inside sources say that these requests are taking a toll on the staff administration as a number of employees are being engaged to perform these extraneous duties. According to sources, rules specify that ministers, MPs and state governments are allowed one escort inside the terminal. The protocol officer or the escort is issued an entry pass. However, celebrities, actors and corporate heads and even retired bureaucrats use the services of ground staff like ground handlers, trolleymen to guide them through the checks inside the terminal.
The debate over special facilities started when last month a retired officer was escorted by an airline staffer to the boarding gate. In fact, he and his relatives were allowed to board the plane fore anyone else started boarding the plane. An official said, "Since the staffers have security clearance they be at any part of the terminal to 'assist' these travellers. The passengers are often met at the aerobridge and are escorted through the immigration and customs check."
It is said that though rules are in place against the practice, earlier attempts to stop it had been a failure. This is the reason why Airports Authority of India official 'Meet and Greet' facility did not become a success. An official said, "The AAI service issued passes for escorts and allowed limited access inside the terminal but since the airport staffers have more access the system did not take off."
The official further added, "Authorised people can bring their escort staff with passes. In fact CISF was put in charge of security to prevent unauthorised entry, which was prevalent when police was incharge."