Busy Airport Essay

For the product series by Apple Inc., see AirPort. For other uses, see Airport (disambiguation).

An airport is an aerodrome with extended facilities, mostly for commercial air transport.[1][2] Airports often have facilities to store and maintain aircraft, and a control tower. An airport consists of a landing area, which comprises an aerially accessible open space including at least one operationally active surface such as a runway for a plane to take off[3] or a helipad,[4] and often includes adjacent utility buildings such as control towers, hangars[5] and terminals. Larger airports may have fixed-base operator services, airport aprons, taxiway bridges, air traffic control centres, passenger facilities such as restaurants and lounges, and emergency services.

An airport with a helipad for rotorcraft but no runway is called a heliport. An airport for use by seaplanes and amphibious aircraft is called a seaplane base. Such a base typically includes a stretch of open water for takeoffs and landings, and seaplane docks for tying-up.

An international airport has additional facilities for customs and passport control as well as incorporating all of the aforementioned elements above. Such airports rank among the most complex and largest of all built typologies with 15 of the top 50 buildings by floor area being airport terminals.

In warfare, airports can become the focus of intense fighting, for example the Battle of Tripoli Airport or the Battle for Donetsk Airport, both taking place in 2014. An aerodrome primarily for military use is called an airbase (or "Air Base") or air station.

Landside and airside areas[edit]

Airports are divided into landside and airside. Landside includes areas such as check-in, parking lots, public transportrailway stations and access roads. Airside includes all areas accessible to aircraft, including runways, taxiways and aprons/ramps. Passage between landside and airside is tightly controlled at all airports. To access airside, one must go through Security, and if applicable, Passport Control too. This applies to everyone, including staff.

Most major airports provide commercial outlets for products and services. Airports may also contain premium and VIP services. The premium and VIP services may include express check-in and dedicated check-in counters. In addition to people, airports move cargo around the clock. Many large airports are located near railway trunk routes.

Air traffic control presence[edit]

The majority of the world's airports are non-towered, with no air traffic control presence. Busy airports have air traffic control (ATC) system. All airports use a traffic pattern to assure smooth traffic flow between departing and arriving aircraft. There are a number of aids available to pilots, though not all airports are equipped with them. Many airports have lighting that help guide planes using the runways and taxiways at night or in rain, snow, or fog. In the U.S. and Canada, the vast majority of airports, large and small, will either have some form of automated airport weather station, a human observer or a combination of the two. Air safety is an important concern in the operation of an airport, and airports often have their own safety services.

Terminology[edit]

The terms aerodrome, airfield, and airstrip may also be used to refer to airports, and the terms heliport, seaplane base, and STOLport refer to airports dedicated exclusively to helicopters, seaplanes, or short take-off and landing aircraft.

In colloquial use, the terms airport and aerodrome are often interchanged. However, in general, the term airport may imply or confer a certain stature upon the aviation facility that an aerodrome may not have achieved. In some jurisdictions, airport is a legal term of art reserved exclusively for those aerodromes certified or licensed as airports by the relevant national aviation authority after meeting specified certification criteria or regulatory requirements.[6]

That is to say, all airports are aerodromes, but not all aerodromes are airports. In jurisdictions where there is no legal distinction between aerodrome and airport, which term to use in the name of an aerodrome may be a commercial decision. Aerodrome is uncommon in the United States.

Infrastructure[edit]

Smaller or less-developed airports, which represent the vast majority, often have a single runway shorter than 1,000 m (3,300 ft). Larger airports for airline flights generally have paved runways 2,000 m (6,600 ft) or longer. Many small airports have dirt, grass, or gravel runways, rather than asphalt or concrete.

In the United States, the minimum dimensions for dry, hard landing fields are defined by the FAR Landing And Takeoff Field Lengths. These include considerations for safety margins during landing and takeoff. Heavier aircraft require longer runways.

The longest public-use runway in the world is at Qamdo Bamda Airport in China. It has a length of 5,500 m (18,045 ft). The world's widest paved runway is at Ulyanovsk Vostochny Airport in Russia and is 105 m (344 ft) wide.

As of 2009[update], the CIA stated that there were approximately 44,000 "... airports or airfields recognizable from the air" around the world, including 15,095 in the US, the US having the most in the world.[7][8]

Airport ownership and operation[edit]

Most of the world's airports are owned by local, regional, or nationalgovernment bodies who then lease the airport to private corporations who oversee the airport's operation. For example, in the United Kingdom the state-owned British Airports Authority originally operated eight of the nation's major commercial airports – it was subsequently privatized in the late 1980s, and following its takeover by the Spanish Ferrovial consortium in 2006, has been further divested and downsized to operating just Heathrow now. Germany's Frankfurt Airport is managed by the quasi-private firm Fraport. While in India GMR Group operates, through joint ventures, Indira Gandhi International Airport and Rajiv Gandhi International Airport. Bengaluru International Airport and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport are controlled by GVK Group. The rest of India's airports are managed by the Airports Authority of India. In Pakistan nearly all civilian airports are owned and operated by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority except for Sialkot International Airport which has a distinctions of being the first privately owned public airport in Pakistan and South Asia.

In the United States commercial airports are generally operated directly by government entities or government-created airport authorities (also known as port authorities), such as the Los Angeles World Airports authority that oversees several airports in the Greater Los Angeles area, including Los Angeles International Airport.

In Canada, the federal authority, Transport Canada, divested itself of all but the remotest airports in 1999/2000. Now most airports in Canada are owned and operated by individual legal authorities or are municipally owned.

Many U.S. airports still lease part or all of their facilities to outside firms, who operate functions such as retail management and parking. In the U.S., all commercial airport runways are certified by the FAA[9] under the Code of Federal Regulations Title 14 Part 139, "Certification of Commercial Service Airports"[10] but maintained by the local airport under the regulatory authority of the FAA.

Despite the reluctance to privatize airports in the US (despite the FAA sponsoring a privatization program since 1996), the government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) arrangement is the standard for the operation of commercial airports in the rest of the world.

Airport structures[edit]

Airports are divided into landside and airside areas. Landside areas include parking lots, public transportationtrain stations and access roads. Airside areas include all areas accessible to aircraft, including runways, taxiways and aprons. Access from landside areas to airside areas is tightly controlled at most airports. Passengers on commercial flights access airside areas through terminals, where they can purchase tickets, clear security check, or claim luggage and board aircraft through gates. The waiting areas which provide passenger access to aircraft are typically called concourses, although this term is often used interchangeably with terminal.

The area where aircraft park next to a terminal to load passengers and baggage is known as a ramp (or incorrectly, "the tarmac"). Parking areas for aircraft away from terminals are called aprons.

Airports can be towered or non-towered, depending on air traffic density and available funds. Due to their high capacity and busy airspace, many international airports have air traffic control located on site.

Airports with international flights have customs and immigration facilities. However, as some countries have agreements that allow travel between them without customs and immigrations, such facilities are not a definitive need for an international airport. International flights often require a higher level of physical security, although in recent years, many countries have adopted the same level of security for international and domestic travel.

A growing number of airports are installing solar photovoltaic arrays to offset their electricity use.[11][12] The National Renewable Energy Lab has shown this can be done safely.[13]

Some airport structures include on-site hotels built within or attached to a terminal building. Airport hotels have grown popular due to their convenience for transient passengers and easy accessibility to the airport terminal. Many airport hotels also have agreements with airlines to provide overnight lodging for displaced passengers.

"Floating airports" are being designed which could be located out at sea and which would use designs such as pneumatic stabilized platform technology.

Products and services[edit]

Most major airports provide commercial outlets for products and services. Most of these companies, many of which are internationally known brands, are located within the departure areas. These include clothing boutiques and restaurants and in the US amounted to $4.2 billion in 2015.[14] Prices charged for items sold at these outlets are generally higher than those outside the airport. However, some airports now regulate costs to keep them comparable to "street prices". This term is misleading as prices often match the manufacturers' suggested retail price (MSRP) but are almost never discounted.[citation needed]

Apart from major fast food chains, some airport restaurants offer regional cuisine specialties for those in transit so that they may sample local food or culture without leaving the airport.[15]

Major airports in such countries as Russia and Japan offer miniature sleeping units within the airport that are available for rent by the hour. The smallest type is the capsule hotel popular in Japan. A slightly larger variety is known as a sleep box. An even larger type is provided by the company YOTEL.

Premium and VIP services[edit]

Airports may also contain premium and VIP services. The premium and VIP services may include express check-in and dedicated check-in counters. These services are usually reserved for First and Business class passengers, premium frequent flyers, and members of the airline's clubs. Premium services may sometimes be open to passengers who are members of a different airline's frequent flyer program. This can sometimes be part of a reciprocal deal, as when multiple airlines are part of the same alliance, or as a ploy to attract premium customers away from rival airlines.

Sometimes these premium services will be offered to a non-premium passenger if the airline has made a mistake in handling of the passenger, such as unreasonable delays or mishandling of checked baggage.

Airline lounges frequently offer free or reduced cost food, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Lounges themselves typically have seating, showers, quiet areas, televisions, computer, Wi-Fi and Internet access, and power outlets that passengers may use for their electronic equipment. Some airline lounges employ baristas, bartenders and gourmet chefs.

Airlines sometimes operate multiple lounges within the one airport terminal allowing ultra-premium customers, such as first class customers, additional services, which are not available to other premium customers. Multiple lounges may also prevent overcrowding of the lounge facilities.

Cargo and freight service[edit]

In addition to people, airports move cargo around the clock. Cargo airlines often have their own on-site and adjacent infrastructure to transfer parcels between ground and air.

Cargo Terminal Facilities are areas where international airports export cargo has to be stored after customs clearance and prior to loading on the aircraft. Similarly import cargo that is offloaded needs to be in bond before the consignee decides to take delivery. Areas have to be kept aside for examination of export and import cargo by the airport authorities. Designated areas or sheds may be given to airlines or freight forward ring agencies.

Every cargo terminal has a landside and an airside. The landside is where the exporters and importers through either their agents or by themselves deliver or collect shipments while the airside is where loads are moved to or from the aircraft. In addition cargo terminals are divided into distinct areas – export, import and interline or transshipment.

Support services[edit]

In the USA, aircraft and passenger Boarding Bridges Maintenance, Pilot Operations, Commissioning, Training Services, aircraft rental, and hangar rental are most often performed by a fixed-base operator (FBO). At major airports, particularly those used as hubs, airlines may operate their own support facilities.

Some airports, typically military airbases, have long runways used as emergency landing sites. Many airbases have arresting equipment for fast aircraft, known as arresting gear – a strong cable suspended just above the runway and attached to a hydraulic reduction gear mechanism. Together with the landing aircraft's arresting hook, it is used in situations where the aircraft's brakes would be insufficient by themselves.

In the United States, many larger civilian airports also host an Air National Guard base.

Airport access[edit]

Many large airports are located near railway trunk routes for seamless connection of multimodal transport, for instance Frankfurt Airport, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, London Heathrow Airport, Tokyo Haneda Airport, Tokyo Narita Airport, London Gatwick Airport and London Stansted Airport. It is also common to connect an airport and a city with rapid transit, light rail lines or other non-road public transport systems. Some examples of this would include the AirTrain JFK at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Link Light Rail that runs from the heart of downtown Seattle to Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, and the Silver Line T at Boston's Logan International Airport by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Such a connection lowers risk of missed flights due to traffic congestion. Large airports usually have access also through controlled-access highways ('freeways' or 'motorways') from which motor vehicles enter either the departure loop or the arrival loop.

Internal transport[edit]

The distances passengers need to move within a large airport can be substantial. It is common for airports to provide moving walkways and buses. In 2007, ThyssenKrupp installed two high-speed walkways in Terminal 1 at Toronto Pearson International Airport. They connect the international gates in the newly opened Pier F, located at one end of the pier, with the rest of the terminal. One walkway serves departing passengers travelling towards the gates and the other serves arriving passengers travelling towards the terminal. The Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport has a tram that takes people through the concourses and baggage claim. Major airports with more than one terminal offer inter-terminal transportation, such as Mexico City International Airport, where the domestic building of Terminal 1 is connected by Aerotrén to Terminal 2, on the other side of the airport.

History and development[edit]

The earliest aircraft takeoff and landing sites were grassy fields.[16] The plane could approach at any angle that provided a favorable wind direction. A slight improvement was the dirt-only field, which eliminated the drag from grass. However, these only functioned well in dry conditions. Later, concrete surfaces would allow landings regardless of meteorological conditions.

The title of "world's oldest airport" is disputed, but College Park Airport in Maryland, US, established in 1909 by Wilbur Wright, is generally agreed to be the world's oldest continually operating airfield,[17] although it serves only general aviation traffic. Bisbee-Douglas International Airport in Arizona was declared "the first international airport of the Americas" by US president Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943. Pearson Field Airport in Vancouver, Washington, had a dirigible land in 1905 and planes in 1911 and is still in use.

Hamburg Airport opened in January 1911, making it the oldest commercial airport in the world which is still in operation. Bremen Airport opened in 1913 and remains in use, although it served as an American military field between 1945 and 1949. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol opened on September 16, 1916, as a military airfield, but only accepted civil aircraft from December 17, 1920, allowing Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia—which started operations in January 1920—to claim to be one of the world's oldest continually operating commercial airports.[18]Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota, opened in 1920 and has been in continuous commercial service since. It serves about 35,000,000 passengers each year and continues to expand, recently opening a new 11,000 foot (3,355 meter) runway. Of the airports constructed during this early period in aviation, it is one of the largest and busiest that is still currently operating. Rome Ciampino Airport, opened 1916, is also a contender, as well as the Don Mueang International Airport near Bangkok, Thailand, which opened in 1914.[19] Increased aircraft traffic during World War I led to the construction of landing fields. Aircraft had to approach these from certain directions and this led to the development of aids for directing the approach and landing slope.

Following the war, some of these military airfields added civil facilities for handling passenger traffic. One of the earliest such fields was Paris – Le Bourget Airport at Le Bourget, near Paris. The first airport to operate scheduled international commercial services was Hounslow Heath Aerodrome in August 1919, but it was closed and supplanted by Croydon Airport in March 1920.[20] In 1922, the first permanent airport and commercial terminal solely for commercial aviation was opened at Flughafen Devau near what was then Königsberg, East Prussia. The airports of this era used a paved "apron", which permitted night flying as well as landing heavier aircraft.

The first lighting used on an airport was during the latter part of the 1920s; in the 1930s approach lighting came into use. These indicated the proper direction and angle of descent. The colours and flash intervals of these lights became standardized under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In the 1940s, the slope-line approach system was introduced. This consisted of two rows of lights that formed a funnel indicating an aircraft's position on the glideslope. Additional lights indicated incorrect altitude and direction.

After World War II, airport design became more sophisticated. Passenger buildings were being grouped together in an island, with runways arranged in groups about the terminal. This arrangement permitted expansion of the facilities. But it also meant that passengers had to travel further to reach their plane.

An improvement in the landing field was the introduction of grooves in the concrete surface. These run perpendicular to the direction of the landing aircraft and serve to draw off excess water in rainy conditions that could build up in front of the plane's wheels.

Airport construction boomed during the 1960s with the increase in jet aircraft traffic. Runways were extended out to 3,000 m (9,800 ft). The fields were constructed out of reinforced concrete using a slip-form machine that produces a continual slab with no disruptions along the length. The early 1960s also saw the introduction of jet bridge systems to modern airport terminals, an innovation which eliminated outdoor passenger boarding. These systems became commonplace in the United States by the 1970s.

Airport designation and naming[edit]

Further information: List of airports

Airports are uniquely represented by their IATA airport code and ICAO airport code.

Most airport names include the location. Many airport names honour a public figure, commonly a politician (e.g. Charles de Gaulle Airport), a monarch like in Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, a cultural leader such as in Liverpool John Lennon Airport or a prominent figure in aviation history of the region (e.g. Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport), sometimes even famous poets (e.g. Allama Iqbal International Airport).

Some airports have unofficial names, possibly so widely circulated that its official name is little used or even known.[citation needed]

Some airport names include the word "International" to indicate their ability to handle international air traffic. This includes some airports that do not have scheduled international airline services (e.g. Albany International Airport).

Airport security[edit]

Main article: Airport security

See also: Airport security repercussions due to the September 11 attacks

Airport security normally requires baggage checks, metal screenings of individual persons, and rules against any object that could be used as a weapon. Since the September 11 attacks and the Real ID Act of 2005, airport security has dramatically increased and got tighter and stricter than ever before.

Airport operations[edit]

Air traffic control[edit]

A "controlled" or "towered" aerodrome has an operating control tower that is responsible for overseeing the safe, orderly, and expeditious flow of air traffic. Pilots are required to maintain two-way radio communication with air traffic controllers, and to acknowledge and comply with their instructions. Nontowered airport have no operating control tower and therefore two-way radio communications are not required, though it is good operating practice for pilots to transmit their intentions on the airport's common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) for the benefit of other aircraft in the area. The CTAF may be a Universal Integrated Community (UNICOM), MULTICOM, Flight Service Station (FSS), or tower frequency.

The majority of the world's airports are non-towered, with no air traffic control presence. However, at particularly busy airports, or airports with other special requirements, there is an air traffic control (ATC) system whereby controllers (usually ground-based) direct aircraft movements via radio or other communications links. This coordinated oversight facilitates safety and speed in complex operations where traffic moves in all three dimensions. Air traffic control responsibilities at airports are usually divided into at least two main areas: ground and tower, though a single controller may work both stations. The busiest airports also have clearance delivery, apron control, and other specialized ATC stations.

Ground Control is responsible for directing all ground traffic in designated "movement areas", except the traffic on runways. This includes planes, baggage trains, snowplows, grass cutters, fuel trucks, stair trucks, airline food trucks, conveyor belt vehicles and other vehicles. Ground Control will instruct these vehicles on which taxiways to use, which runway they will use (in the case of planes), where they will park, and when it is safe to cross runways. When a plane is ready to takeoff it will stop short of the runway, at which point it will be turned over to Tower Control. After a plane has landed, it will depart the runway and be returned to Ground Control.

Tower Control controls aircraft on the runway and in the controlled airspace immediately surrounding the airport. Tower controllers may use radar to locate an aircraft's position in three-dimensional space, or they may rely on pilot position reports and visual observation. They coordinate the sequencing of aircraft in the traffic pattern and direct aircraft on how to safely join and leave the circuit. Aircraft which are only passing through the airspace must also contact Tower Control in order to be sure that they remain clear of other traffic.

Traffic pattern[edit]

Main article: Airfield traffic pattern

At all airports the use of a traffic pattern (often called a traffic circuit outside the U.S.) is possible. They may help to assure smooth traffic flow between departing and arriving aircraft. There is no technical need within modern aviation for performing this pattern, provided there is no queue. And due to the so-called SLOT-times, the overall traffic planning tend to assure landing queues are avoided. If for instance an aircraft approaches runway 17 (which has a heading of approx. 170 degrees) from the north (coming from 360/0 degrees heading towards 180 degrees), the aircraft will land as fast as possible by just turning 10 degrees and follow the glidepath, without orbit the runway for visual reasons, whenever this is possible. For smaller piston engined airplanes at smaller airfields without ILS equipment, things are very different though.

Generally, this pattern is a circuit consisting of five "legs" that form a rectangle (two legs and the runway form one side, with the remaining legs forming three more sides). Each leg is named (see diagram), and ATC directs pilots on how to join and leave the circuit. Traffic patterns are flown at one specific altitude, usually 800 or 1,000 ft (244 or 305 m) above ground level (AGL). Standard traffic patterns are left-handed, meaning all turns are made to the left. One of the main reason for this is that pilots sit on the left side of the airplane, and a Left-hand patterns improves their visibility of the airport and pattern. Right-handed patterns do exist, usually because of obstacles such as a mountain, or to reduce noise for local residents. The predetermined circuit helps traffic flow smoothly because all pilots know what to expect, and helps reduce the chance of a mid-air collision.

At extremely large airports, a circuit is in place but not usually used. Rather, aircraft (usually only commercial with long routes) request approach clearance while they are still hours away from the airport, often before they even take off from their departure point. Large airports have a frequency called Clearance Delivery which is used by departing aircraft specifically for this purpose. This then allows aircraft to take the most direct approach path to the runway and land without worrying about interference from other aircraft. While this system keeps the airspace free and is simpler for pilots, it requires detailed knowledge of how aircraft are planning to use the airport ahead of time and is therefore only possible with large commercial airliners on pre-scheduled flights. The system has recently become so advanced that controllers can predict whether an aircraft will be delayed on landing before it even takes off; that aircraft can then be delayed on the ground, rather than wasting expensive fuel waiting in the air.

Navigational aids[edit]

There are a number of aids available to pilots, though not all airports are equipped with them. A visual approach slope indicator (VASI) helps pilots fly the approach for landing. Some airports are equipped with a VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) to help pilots find the direction to the airport. VORs are often accompanied by a distance measuring equipment (DME) to determine the distance to the VOR. VORs are also located off airports, where they serve to provide airways for aircraft to navigate upon. In poor weather, pilots will use an instrument landing system (ILS) to find the runway and fly the correct approach, even if they cannot see the ground. The number of instrument approaches based on the use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) is rapidly increasing and may eventually be the primary means for instrument landings.

Larger airports sometimes offer precision approach radar (PAR), but these systems are more common at military air bases than civilian airports. The aircraft's horizontal and vertical movement is tracked via radar, and the controller tells the pilot his position relative to the approach slope. Once the pilots can see the runway lights, they may continue with a visual landing.

Taxiway signs[edit]

Further information: Taxiway § Taxiway signs

Airport guidance signs provide direction and information to taxiing aircraft and airport vehicles. Smaller aerodromes may have few or no signs, relying instead on diagrams and charts.

Lighting[edit]

Further information: Taxiway § Taxiway lights, and Runway § Runway lighting

Many airports have lighting that help guide planes using the runways and taxiways at night or in rain or fog.

On runways, green lights indicate the beginning of the runway for landing, while red lights indicate the end of the runway. Runway edge lighting consists of white lights spaced out on both sides of the runway, indicating the edge. Some airports have more complicated lighting on the runways including lights that run down the centerline of the runway and lights that help indicate the approach (an approach lighting system, or ALS). Low-traffic airports may use pilot controlled lighting to save electricity and staffing costs.

Along taxiways, blue lights indicate the taxiway's edge, and some airports have embedded green lights that indicate the centerline.

Airport Apron[edit]

Both shielded and unshielded cable are listed in the specifications for the power cables on an airport apron ramp.[21][22]

Weather observations[edit]

See also: Surface weather observation, Weather station, Automated airport weather station, and Automatic weather station

Weather observations at the airport are crucial to safe takeoffs and landings. In the US and Canada, the vast majority of airports, large and small, will either have some form of automated airport weather station, whether an AWOS, ASOS, or AWSS, a human observer or a combination of the two. These weather observations, predominantly in the METAR format, are available over the radio, through automatic terminal information service (ATIS), via the ATC or the flight service station.

Planes take-off and land into the wind in order to achieve maximum performance. Because pilots need instantaneous information during landing, a windsock is also kept in view of the runway. Aviation windsocks are made with lightweight material, withstand strong winds and are lit up after dark or in foggy weather. Because visibility of windsocks is limited, often multiple glow-orange windsocks are placed on both sides of the runway.[23]

Safety management[edit]

Sample infrastructure of a typical airport. Larger airports usually contain more runways and terminals.
Airport distribution in 2008
Birds eye view of the Kolkata Airport Terminal 2
Commercial jets wait for the "7am hold" to pass before departing from John Wayne Airport, Feb 14, 2015
Terminal structures at Sheremetyevo International Airport
The apron from the top floor observation room, Halifax International Airport, Canada
The Kharkiv Airport in Sokolniki, Ukraine (1924).
An automated weather system.
"FLF Panther" airport crash tender in Germany

Airport is a complex of buildings and runways for take-off, landing and maintenance of civil aircraft. It has facilities for passengers. It is interesting to see how the movement of so many planes is tracked in perfect order. The one at Kolkata is known as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Airport. Few days back we were taken from school to see this airport.

School bus dropped us at the domestic terminal. We formed a queue and entered the airport, trying not to come in the way of passengers. The ambience was very impressive. The lounge was brightly lit and tastefully decorated. Huge screens displaying the arrival and departure of flights greeted us at different spots.

It was a busy time of the day. There were a large number of people with baggage in tow, some standing in queue before ticket counters, some proceedings towards different numbered gates. There were many children also. We heard voices at short intervals announcing the arrival, departure or delay of flights and at times asking passengers to proceed towards a particular gate for security check.

There were counters of various airlines with smartly dressed men and women who were answering the queries of passengers, weighing their baggage and issuing boarding passes. The gift shops in the airport were well stocked with books, toys, chocolates and knick-knacks. We came across a florist with large varieties of flowers, a saree shop selling traditional bangles, sarees, and numerous snacks counter.

The assortment of snacks on display drew our attention. They had almost everything starting from pizzas, burgers, doughnuts, sandwiches to wafers, juices, tea, coffee and soft drinks. We also saw airhostesses of Jet Airways, Air Deccan and Air Sahara. One pilot even stopped over to talk to us. He answered all our questions with a smile.

He explained how he flew the plane with a control stick. He also told us that the experience to soar high among the clouds was unmatched. He left by asking us to go to the viewing gallery to see the take-off and arrival of planes. We saw numerous X-ray machines scanning the baggage of passengers. Then we went to see the security checks being done. Security personnel frisked every passenger and then stamped his boarding pass.

Our next destination was the viewing gallery. We could hardly contain our excitement as we raced up the stairs. The viewing gallery had sound-proof glass on one side and rows of chairs for people to sit and watch. A bus dropped passengers near the aircraft, and then they proceeded to climb the stairs leading into the aircraft. We saw the lights flashing on the tips of the wings of the plane.

The door of the aircraft closed and the plane started to move towards the runway. Just short of the runway it stopped and a light came on the front of the plane. We could faintly hear the rumbling noise of the aircraft engine. The plane started to move again, this time with more speed. The speed kept on increasing and when it was in the middle of the runway, the plane started to climb up and was off the ground.

After a while it appeared like a giant bird in the sky. After spending a day in the airport my interest to travel by air piqued. I hope my wish is fulfilled soon.


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