The standard security and immigration template across airports in India has been to provide exclusive queues for business and first-class travellers. The underlying logic is clear. Mostly business people would pay for the premium cabin travel and they would arrive later than the tourists due to work commitments. Hence, the special queues help them go through the security theatre quicker and be at the gate in time for the flight.
Since they usually pay 4-5 times the normal economy traveller at least, they sure should get value for that money in terms of priority access and this is the norm in a lot of places. However, ever so often so, someone comes along with a more idealistic equalising viewpoint and then this pack of cards falls apart. Two years ago, the special security screening for premium passengers was withdrawn and then restored.
Now, it seems the Immigration authorities have taken a similar view at Delhi Airport. Immigration thinks that there is no need for special queues for business class passengers when economy passengers face heavy queues. Apparently, only crew and diplomats will now get priority clearance.
This move is ill-reasoned and I don’t see why an equalisation is being applied. And the apparent belief is that if Delhi will settle in with this move, the separate counters at Mumbai and other airports will also go away. What needs to be done is to move to a technology initiative where at least residents/Indian Passport holders can just pass through immigration with a smart card or scanning their passport.
Ultimately, airports which do not have separate processes for premium passengers do not leave a great image in my head. Like New York JFK or any other American airport, where I’ve queued up for two hours after some very long flights in Business & First Class more than once to get through immigration checks.
If you’re flying abroad from Delhi, come ahead of time now. This move won’t mean that the Economy queues go shorter. It just means they go longer because even premium passengers would join in. I’d have imagined more officers would sit in to clear the flights quickly, unfortunately, all this means is you wait longer.