Mumbai is a major Indian hub for international flights and the busiest single-runway airport in the world. The airport is divided into two terminals, which aren’t connected. Thus, it is critical to know where your flight is operating from. So let’s find out how long you need to connect through this active airport on your next trip.
Despite New Delhi being the official capital, Mumbai is considered the financial hub of India, making it a key city for European and Middle Eastern airlines. The airport even beat Gatwick a few years ago to become the busiest single-runway airport in the world.
Get all the latest aviation news right here on Simple Flying.
All international flights depart from Terminal 2 of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport. This means that all foreign connections will be within the same terminal, allowing for speedy transit. The minimum time needed to transit would be just one hour, assuming you have all your boarding passes and your bags are checked through.
Still, it would be wise to leave at least two hours for a smooth transit. This is to provide for any delays on your inbound flight (Mumbai is notorious for its congested airspace) as well as long queues at the security check.
The procedure for transit between international flights is quite similar to that of Delhi Airport. Passengers should follow the signs for international transfer after landing on their inbound flight. The transit area contains numerous airline desks in case you don’t have your boarding pass for the next flight.
Once you have your boarding pass, you’ll need a clear a security check. After security, head upstairs to the main departure terminal. Altogether, the process is quite smooth, taking little time and only hindered if there are many people in the security queue.
It should be noted that your bags must be checked through to your final destination for airside transit. It is not possible to pick up your bags and check in again without going through immigration.
If you’re booked on two separate tickets, you will need to clear immigration to check in for your next flight. Clearing immigration, picking up your bags, and finishing customs can take a while, depending on the number of people in the terminal. It’s best to leave at least three hours if you’re planning a landside international transfer. Luckily, no terminal change is required, all you have to do is head upstairs to check in once again.
As mentioned earlier, Mumbai Airport is home to two terminals, Terminal 1 (T1) and Terminal 2 (T2). T1 is exclusively used for domestic flights, while T2 is used for all international flights as well as a number of domestic ones. The two terminals are five kilometers (3 miles) apart and aren’t connected, requiring a taxi ride.
The older T1 is used mainly by low-cost carriers, such as IndiGo, GoAir, and AirAsia India. Full-service carriers, Air India and Vistara, as well as SpiceJet, use the newer T2 for their domestic operations. However, some domestic IndiGo flights now also depart from T2, further complicating matters. Checking the terminal number on your tickets is vital if you have a domestic connection in Mumbai.
If you do have to go from T2 to T1 (or vice-versa), it’s important to take a longer layover. While five kilometers may not seem like much, Mumbai traffic can make this journey long. The only option to move between the terminals is to take a taxi. Be warned that you will be flooded by locals who will offer taxi services, but it’s best to ignore all of them. Instead, you can either book an Uber or go to the prepaid taxi stand outside the airport to get a taxi.
The journey between terminals is usually quick, around 10 minutes, although it could take longer depending on traffic. To account for the road journey, it’s best to take at least a three- to four-hour layover between flights. From personal experience, I’d recommend booking all your flights within T2 to ensure the connecting experience is painless. Be sure to check your terminal numbers while booking flights, and if you do have to switch, prepare for the terminal change in advance.
Terminal 2 of Mumbai Airport was recently renovated to upgrade the aging infrastructure of the airport. The airport now offers all the comforts expected from a major international terminal, a large duty-free, food courts, lounges, airport hotels, and more. The architecture within the airport is stunning, too, making it a treat to walk through.
Aside from the great display, the airport also offers lots of options in terms of shopping and food. The airport also houses a Priority Pass lounge on the international side if you do have access. It’s safe to say that your transit experience through the airport will be fine once you’re airside.
Plenty of prospects
Mumbai Airport is currently the second-busiest airport in India, only behind New Delhi. The airport is constrained by its size and location, putting it in a similar situation as Heathrow and slowing further development. However, the site is expected to continue growing its passenger numbers as more and more airlines begin servicing the airport. The city’s popularity and economic importance ensure that Mumbai will remain a hub airport for the years to come.
Mumbai suffered a significant downturn in passenger traffic for nearly two years due to the impact of the pandemic. Notably, the country implemented stringent restrictions on international arrivals, with only some exceptions in place. India finally reopened its borders for general traffic in March this year, seeing a surge of passengers fly in to meet friends and family. With such a significant Indian diaspora across the continents and India being a tourism stronghold, there is plenty of pent-up demand for travel to the country. As a result, Mumbai is presently considerably busy connecting both foreign and local passengers.
There have been recent developments when it comes to domestic connections. Earlier this year, the site revealed a transfer facility for those connecting with domestic flights. This move seeks to reduce congestion and transit time.
Mumbai Airport is intent on meeting requirements in this next chapter. It’s also determined to do so responsibly. Just this month, the facility announced that it now runs 100% on green energy sources. This move comes at a time when we are seeing international opportunities, with the likes of IndiGo launching new services from the airport. We can expect further developments heading into 2023.
Have you transited through Mumbai Airport over the years? How was your overall experience? Let us know in the comments below!