Andaman Airport – An Island Airport With A View
For most people traveling to Andaman, the introduction to the islands is the Port Blair International Airport. At present this is the only airport in Andaman which is shared for both civil and defense operations.
The airport is named after the national leader and freedom fighter Veer Savarkar who served a double imprisonment in the iconic British penal settlement in islands, the Cellular Jail. So, the Veer Savarkar International Airport is your gateway to the Andaman – an ideal tropical island experience. It’s the only airport in the region.
It is a small airport located about 2km south of Port Blair, the capital of Andaman. Although a designated international airport but international flights don’t land here. Most foreign tourists traveling in Andaman come via mainland India. An international section is under construction beside the airport and is likely to be available in 3 years. A second airport is coming up in Diglipur, South Andaman but it’s not official yet.
Getting to the islands is quite a unique experience for many as the geography of the region ensures an enigmatic view of the islands. The flights circle the island region giving you a good view of the islands that you will be visiting before landing there. This view might vary as it will depend on the direction of your landing. People flying from Calcutta will get a good glimpse of the deltaic sunderbans for miles followed by a vast stretch of calm blue ocean which ultimately culminates into the beautiful island views. This provides glimpses of many islands and as you lose altitude to touch down at the Andaman airport you realise the extent of the tropical forest that surrounds the area.
Finally, when you touch down at Port Blair, the capital of Andaman, the airport awaits you with innumerable possibilities.
What To Expect at the Arrival Section?
The Veer Savarkar International Airport is quite small having only 3 conveyor belts where you can get your luggage. Upon arrival you need to get your luggage from one of the 3 belts and proceed through security to exits. Foreign tourists need to check in at immigration counter where your passport number and signatures are taken. For Indians the process is just like any other indian airport and as you don’t need any permit to travel.
Facilities in the Arrival Section
- No big eateries are available at the airports arrival section. There’s only a small shop where you can get mineral water bottles and some light refreshments.
- In case of medical supplies you can check the medical stores which lie near the exit gate, outside the airport.
- The airport has an ITNT section near the exit gate where you can get important tourist information regarding Andaman including tourist maps and guide maps like Go2Andaman maps with all major public transport and emergency helpline details.
- You can get easy transport facilities near the exit gate where a number of auto rickshaws and taxis are available. These public transport here is quite safe and affordable. You don’t need to bargain much as the rates are generally normal. For easy maneuvering and calculation of fares it is best to check google maps and calculate the distance covered using that.
- Major airlines like Indigo, Spicejet, GoAir etc, have their information counters at the exit gate where you can get any information related to Andaman or flights.
So, those are things you can expect upon arrival at the Andaman airport.
What To Expect at the Departure Section?
When the time comes to go back to the mainland and bid adieu to Andaman, you enter the departure section of the Andaman Airport. Here things are quite organized and a good amount of security checking is done in order to restrict any illegal transfers of corals, rocks, stones or any marine species.
Generally the queues are quite long and the number of check in counters are few. So make sure to reach early if you are catching an early morning flight. There’s an extra baggage counter where your baggage is checked. Carrying any kind of corals, shells, stones or other marine items is strictly prohibited and these items are discarded if found in the luggage or in the hand bag.
The airport is quite noisy with heavy winds blowing all the while so the announcements often go unheard. Be vigilant and keep an eye out for your boarding announcements. There are some self check-in kiosks available at the airport which you can use to get the boarding pass.
Facilities in the Departure Section
- The departure section has clean drinking water fountains.
- A good number of clean washrooms are available.
- There are souvenir gift shops which sell different kinds of jewelleries like necklaces, earrings, shells, showpieces, wall hangings and other items.
- You can get light refreshments like chips, nuts, tea and even some patties at the small eating counters found here
These are the basic facilities that you get at the departure of the Andaman airport.
About Andaman Flights
As of now the airport is operational till the evening so flights are restricted to morning and afternoon slots only. The last flight leaves at 6.40pm and the earliest flight starts at 5 am in the morning.
Although flights are available from most Indian cities, direct flights are only available from Calcutta and Chennai owing to their proximity to Andaman. Flights from these 2 cities are more frequent and take about 2-3 hours of traveling time. The southern states, specially, cities on the east coast of the country have more flights to Andaman than any other part of India because of their proximity.
So, most tourists use the Calcutta-Port Blair or Chennai-Port Blair transit to visit the islands. The fares depend on the distance traveled and the season of traveling. In the peak season of December-March the prices are quite high. The lowest it gets is during the monsoon season as most tourists avoid that time because of the unpredictable nature which doesn’t let them travel.
Do’s & Don’ts
Andaman being a fragile island with rare flora and fauna, there are certain things which you need to keep in mind while visiting. These specific sets of do’s and don’t will help you differentiate what you can do and you can’t at the airport.
- Carry your essentials like passport, visa, ids and guard it safely.
- Make arrangements of your own reading material in case you are stuck at the airport. Unlike other airports they don’t have bookstores here
- Unlike other airports it’s not a citadel of shopping and eating. So make sure you carry your own refreshments and do most of the shopping beforehand.
- In case you purchase any shell or coral material please carry them in your hand bag and keep the receipts intact. You need to show the receipts alongwith the material in order to establish that you have purchased them.
- As it is a tropical island which receives a fair share of rainfall all through the year, people are advised to prepare for the rain. So always wear clothes accordingly and carry umbrellas, raincoats and sunglasses.
- All through the airport there are big posters showing that you can’t carry shells, corals or any marine species. Please follow that and don’t carry any shells, corals, or marine creatures with you
- The airport is a defense airport as well so photography is strictly prohibited. Please keep this in mind and don’t take any photographs at the airport.
- Don’t wear any woolen clothes or cold clothes while traveling to the airport as the weather is never cold here. Even in winter it isn’t cold so no woolens are necessary.
So, there you go, your complete guide to the Veer Savarkar International Airport, in Port Blair – your first stop in Andaman and certainly your last.