MAA Chennai Airport Immigration Chaos

When you enter a country, Immigration is your first impression and we have to ensure it is a stellar experience. I passed through Chennai (MAA) immigration today (May 31’2022) and it took me about two hours. The time frame is okay as long as things are organized. It was utter chaos and an unfortunate situation. 

What is the problem? 

The pictures captured here are a great representation of what happened today at the Chennai airport. Currently, passengers can choose any lane and a lot of people start yelling at each other because folks cut through lines.

Checking at some of the other twitter posts, things are the same across the country. We can’t blame the officers at the immigration check-point either as they are severely understaffed. They also did not care about what was happening. 

What should be done to fix this? 

I do not think this is a hard problem to solve. Also, problems are good because it provides an opportunity to excel. 

  1. Adding more personnel at the counters.
  2. There needs to be an officer who direct passengers into specific immigration lanes (let us copy from the States) – and not let people go where they want to. Also, the officers should ensure that people do not cut through lanes.
  3. India Entry – Create an India Entry system and invest in automation. Why do we need frequent travelers to go through the same immigration lanes? We can take some lessons from the Global Entry program in the US (shamelessly copy and make it better) – Ask passengers to pay more and fund the automation. 
  4. Prioritize Indian Passport Holders. Create a sense of pride in holding an Indian passport.
  5. Have a 30 day plan to make the experience seamless. 

It is okay to make mistakes. However when you keep repeating the same mistake over and over it no longer is a mistake, but a screw-up. One more thing I do recommend is to ensure all government officials excluding Prime Minister , Chief Ministers or 1000 people, everyone else pass through the same immigration lane. This way folks in positions of power know the real problems. With Internet penetration and digital revolution, we have come a long way and this is something we are proud of as a Nation. We have hundreds of thousands or millions of people traveling. Let us copy best practices from across the globe and create a stellar immigration experience when someone enters India. 

Thank you for reading.

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