The third busiest airport in India, Chennai Madras International Airport is located in Tirusulam, just 4.3 miles (7km) south of Chennai in southern India. The airport is a bustling portal for visitors to India's southern states: Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karkataka and Kerala.
Already handling more than 12 million passengers each year, the airport is currently expanding to double its capacity by mid-2012. Passengers flying in to Chennai International Airport should be prepared for organised chaos with crowds of touts, taxi-wallahs and beggars milling around. Despite this daunting introduction to India however, Chennai International Airport is a popular airport, with flights available to dozens of major airports in Asia and Europe.
The airport is located 4.3 miles (7km) south of Chennai's city centre
Getting to the city
Airport taxis: Always use prepaid taxis to get into the city from the airport; it's the safest way to ensure that you reach your destination without being overcharged. Numerous taxi companies have counters in the arrivals section of Chennai International Airport: use Aviation Express, as they have the best reputation, and sometimes offer you a choice of vehicles (either the wonderful old Ambassador cars, or newer Toyota Innova minivans). Make sure you have small notes or coins on you for a tip. Expect to pay INR 350-450 for the 30-minute trip into town.
Auto-Rickshaw (Tuk-Tuk): If you want to dive right into India's most exhilarating transportation experience, three-wheeled auto-rickshaws are also widely available to get you into town from the airport. Be warned that they are really uncomfortable if you have a lot of baggage with you, and you're almost certainly going to have to negotiate a price with your driver (they won't use the metre) before taking off. Try for INR 200, and don't go above INR 300.
Bus: There is also a public bus stop located right outside the gates to Chennai International Airport. Bus No. 18A operates between 5am and 10pm, making frequent trips into the city. Make sure you tell the driver where you're going, so they can help get off at the right stop. Expect to pay about INR 20 for the 45-minute trip. Bus No. 18B (INR 35) operates along the same route as 18A, but is air-conditioned, and generally less full.
Train: If you leave Chennai International Airport, walk through the gate, down Great Southern Trunk Road, and go through the underpass running beneath National Highway 45 - you'll find yourself in Tirusulam Railway Station. From there, you can get to the city (Egmore Station) every 20-30 minutes by train. Train stations in India can get very hectic, so it's probably advisable to buy your tickets from the rail service counter at the airport. The trip between the stations should take about 25-30 minutes, costing INR 12 (for 2nd class, not recommended if you have baggage) or INR 100 (approx. for 1st class).
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Car rentals are provided by Avis, Hertz and Budget. You'll find their desks in the arrivals area. You will need an International Drivers' Permit to rent a car - but it really, really isn't recommended, especially if you've never driven in India before.
Always use prepaid taxis to get into the city from the airport; it's the safest way to ensure that you reach your destination without being overcharged. Numerous taxi companies have counters in the arrivals section of Chennai International Airport: use Aviation Express, as they have the best reputation, and sometimes offer you a choice of vehicles (either the wonderful old Ambassador cars, or newer Toyota Innova minivans). Make sure you have small notes or coins on you for a tip. Expect to pay INR 350-450 for the 30-minute trip into town.
Transfer between terminals
Chennai International Airport is comprised of Anna International Terminal (AIT), Kamaraj Domestic Terminal (KDT), and a cargo terminal. A link building connects the international and domestic terminals, while different areas of the terminals are accessible via aerobridges and pedestrian walkways.
Money and communications: There are ATMs dotted throughout Chennai International Airport, as well as currency exchange offices in the arrivals hall, the departures hall, and the International Terminal.
Luggage: There is a lost and found office in the baggage reclaim area. Luggage trolleys are free to use, and porters can be hired to help you heft your bags, if necessary.
Conference and business: There's a Communication Centre located in the arrivals hall, offering internet browsing, video phones, and photocopying, fax and conferencing facilities.
Other facilities: Other facilities at Chennai International Airport include airline lounges, medical facilities, retiring rooms, vending machines, TVs, a rail reservation counter, and basic access and facilities for disabled passengers.
Wi-Fi facilities: Wi-fi connectivity is available in the terminal buildings, provided free of charge.
Information: A government-run Tourist Information Counter is located in the arrivals area, providing great information (including maps, brochures, etc.) about Chennai and the greater Tamil Nadu area, as well.
Food and Drink: The range of restaurants, bars and cafes at Chennai International Airport is rather under-whelming, being largely comprised of snack kiosks and vending machines. Of course, these independent establishments might well turn out some excellent fare, but the safest best would be to grab something in one of the airline lounges, such as Air India's Maharaja Lounge, located in the International Terminal.
Shopping: Shopping is not an area in which Chennai International Airport excels; however, there is a duty-free shop located in the International Terminal, and numerous kiosks selling newspapers, magazines, and basic travel accessories.
There is short- and long-stay parking available for 500 cars and buses at Chennai International Airport. The parking lot is located right outside the terminal buildings, and the fee is INR 25 per two hours (or part thereof).
There is a departure tax of INR 700 for passengers leaving Chennai International Airport; however, this fee is usually included in the price of your air ticket.
Flights to Chennai Madras International Airport are available on Cathay Pacific, Air India, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Air Asia, British Airways, Gulf Air, IndiGo, Jet Airways, Oman Air, Singapore Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines, Kingfisher Airlines, SpiceJet, and Thai Airways International.
Chennai Madras International Airport has free wifi access in the terminal buildings.
The airport has a Communication Centre in the arrivals hall with copy and fax services, video phones, internet terminals, and conference rooms.
Chennai Airport Taxis: the taxi fares above are intended as a guideline only.