Old Mar 1, 10, 4:36 am
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The Mumbai Airport Transfer Guide (Domestic to International and vv)

The official airport website

Transfer between the two terminals is neither easy, nor hard but there are some things you need to be aware of. I will start with the facts worth knowing.
  1. Transfer time is at least 2 hours but more likely 3 either way. Don't risk anything less.
  2. The ‘terminals’ are in fact two airports 4,8 km apart.
  3. The Domestic Airport has two terminals 1A and 1B.
  4. 1A is the terminal used by IT
  5. 1B is the terminal used by almost everybody else
  6. There is a free shuttle bus between Domestic and International that runs every 30 minutes
  7. You are allowed on the shuttle bus based on time between transfers. If you have a lot of time and the bus is full you will have to wait for the next one.
  8. They have transfer desks at the bus waiting area where you can check your bags in. They are not always manned however.
  9. The bus driver will always ask you for ‘a contribution’. There is no need to pay him but a couple of Rupees will make his life a little easier.
  10. You cannot take trolleys on board of the bus. They will go in the loading area. There have been reports of stuff being stolen on the short ride although I have never had any problem. If you are worried, make sure you lock the bag. Small backpacks etc you can take with you.
  11. Going from Domestic to International, the bus drops you off landside at International near Gate A (JET) and does not go any further, even if it is another 500 meters to gate D (CX and others)
  12. You will need your passport and boarding card (or itinerary or e-ticket) for every checkpoint and of those there are a lot.
  13. The Domestic Terminal is quite new and not that bad.
  14. The Domestic Terminal 1A has a Clipper Lounge that is free for IT First customers or status holders with King but access can be bought for only 300 rupee (5 Euro). This lounge is land side so before check in or customs. This means you can use it even if you are way too early to check in for your flight.
  15. Airlines do not allow you to check in at the airport earlier than 4 hours before departure.
  16. Security will give you a very hard time if you want to enter either terminal longer than 4 hours before departure.
  17. You don’t need to remove your shoes for security here. However, everyone is scanned manually. That takes a while.
  18. If you have a long transfer it might be tempting to choose a hotel. That maybe a good idea for transfers over 8 hours but for shorter transfers you need to consider the time it takes to get to your hotel, to check in, to check out, to get back to the airport, check in for your flight etc. The better hotels are freakishly expensive (over EUR 150 per night) and that maybe a bit much for 4 hours of sleep.


After collecting your luggage you have two options; turn left or turn right. Turning left will take you landside and you will need to get a taxi to the Domestic Terminal. This can take a while (serious traffic problems) and is not free. The bus is. For the bus you need to turn right. It is all very clearly marked. This will get you to the bus waiting area.

There are a lot of people here to attend to your needs. They also check your travel documents and transfer times. I found them very friendly and helpful.

If it is busy and you have a long transfer time they will let you wait for a later bus that will get you to the Domestic terminal. I found that telling them you are meeting friends there may help you to get on the first bus out. Lying about taking an earlier flight will only work if there actually is one, since they seem to know all the schedules by heart. Bribing them surprisingly does not (always) work. They kindly refuse the money although I have heard other stories.

The bus is a very old coach that is perfectly comfortable for the short ride. Depending on traffic (both from other airport vehicles and planes) the ride can take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes. They stop at 1B first and 1A second. If you are at the second stop keep an eye on your luggage from the window.


Once you get to the terminal you can simply walk in. There was no guard on duty to check your papers. If you are too early for check-in go to the Clipper Lounge. It is just before the security check on the left hand side. It is a perfectly comfortable lounge. Free for IT First or Rp 300 for everyone else.

They will also help you to check in for your flight, if you don’t have bags to check. I found the service excellent.

The terminal itself is not large and easy to navigate. Keep an eye on your gate though, since they can keep changing it up to the last minute. There are hardly any shops but plenty of eateries.


I have no information but maybe someone else can add this.


The bus waiting area here is to the right of the baggage belts (if you face them).

You will have to report to the staff with your itinerary. Here they are very strict about transfer times and are under orders to keep passengers at Domestic until 4 hours before departure. My strategy here is always to lie that I am changing to an earlier flight but that I need to be at the International Terminal to do so. Make sure you know of an earlier flight.

Before you get on the bus there is another check by the army. They are very annoying in their persistence to keep you at the Domestic terminal as long as possible.

One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of flights leave BOM early in the morning. So even if you arrive early in the evening at domestic they will insist that you need to wait since your flight is not until tomorrow. The only way to win this argument is to get very insistent that you either have a business meeting at the international airport or that you are changing your flight. Confusing them with a lot of information also works and try to throw in a meeting with a government official.

The bus leaves every half hour or so (times are indicated) and the story here is much the same as for International to Domestic. The bus drops you off landside, same as the pax simply getting to the airport from town.


Getting into the terminal can be a long process. You need to get passed the army guard to get into the building. Despite there being 4 gates, they all lead to the same hall so if your ‘gate’ has a very long line it can be wise to check out the others.

Check in is much the same as in most airports although in India everything always seems to take longer.

After check in you have to clear customs which goes surprisingly quickly but after customs there is the security/baggage check which is unsurprisingly slow. The whole process take from 45 minutes on a good day to 90 minutes on a bad day.

Once in the terminal there is very little shopping to do but a lot of good eating options including Burger King and PizzaHut and a couple of small Spa’s. The lounges include a Clipper Lounge (not sure if you can buy access here too), BA Galleries and Emirates. Have not seen others.


If you can avoid it, do so! If not, here are the tactics.

To enter the International Terminal you are once again stopped by an army representative. He will start physically pushing you outside shouting "too early, flight not until tomorrow, wait outside!". Don't be intimidated. You will have to go through the same drill as described for catching the bus at the domestic terminal. Bluff, be confident, tell them you need to speak to the airline representative to change your flight and generally confuse the poor man with too much information.

However, if you manage to get into the building itself you are not yet safe. You need to collect a boarding pass. Most airlines will simply not check you in early, especially not if you have bags. If you are lucky you have checked in online or you can use a kiosk. This will not help if you need to check your bags of course. Since I never travel with hold luggage I have no strategies for you other than to never travel with hold luggage

So if you managed to get a boarding pass and sorted your baggage problem you can try to pass customs. These are the people who are actually there to stop you getting into the terminal but since it is always very busy they seldom do. If they do give you a hard time it always helps to indicate that you have a business meeting in the Clipper Lounge set up. Look like you are going to make a fuss, they hate that.

Hope this little guide to one of the most annoying airports in the world helped. I know a lot of people are intimidated by it. Feel free to offer suggestions on how to improve it.

Last edited by henkybaby; Mar 1, 10 at 7:42 am
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