Bedlam at BIA’s main entrance, but "it doesn’t happen all the time"


By Suresh Perera

There was virtual chaos at the main porch entrance for outbound passengers at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in the evening of Sunday, April 3 as a lone security officer helplessly struggled to control the wave of passenger traffic. "In the absence of a semblance of order, all the passengers, with their luggage to boot, were clamoring to elbow their way into the terminal", a Sri Lankan passenger complained. "There was bedlam as a result".

There was only one security officer on duty at the entrance and the poor man cut a sorry figure as he desperately attempted to control the crowd, she said.

Caught up in the disorder, he tried to partly shut the door, but this created a bigger mess as the passengers, in their haste, could not manoeuvre their luggage, she said. "As that option didn’t work, he was forced to reopen it".

"There should have been more security officers to ensure order", the passenger suggested. "Surely, one man cannot handle a big crowd when there are too many flights around the same time"."I am unaware of this particular incident, but it does not happen all the time", a senior BIA official assured.

When there are several flights departing around the same time, particularly during night time, there is a heavy influx of outbound passenger traffic, he explained.

"We ensure there are enough men on duty to handle departure passengers and the second door is also opened if there is a steady flow to enter the terminal", he said. "But perhaps, there are times when something goes amiss".

He said that the problem is complicated by visitors who use the same entrance to enter the lobby to see passengers off. "This adds to the volumes in terms of numbers".

"When we finally reached the check-in area, there was another long wait as the SriLankan Airlines staff on duty appeared to be so inexperienced as they kept on pecking on the system", the passenger asserted.

"They were painfully slow", she complained. "It was so frustrating".

"The end result of this mess up was that by the time we reached the departure area, the flight was on call", she said. "We nearly missed the plane".

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