As the second-busiest airport in India behind Delhi's Indira Gandhi and the secondary hub of Air India, the airport has historically been very crowded, although modernization projects such as the construction of the new T2 have made movement much easier.
Two former names of the airport, Santacruz and Sahar, have their basis in the areas of the city the airport rests on. Domestic activity has historically been centered on the terminal at Santacruz (T1), while international activity is in the terminal at Sahar village in Andheri (T2).
The airport consists mainly of two terminals (for Domestic & International purposes) - both terminals use the same airspace but are 4 km apart.
Mumbai has excellent connectivity with most of the major cities around the world, including, New York, London, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur to name a few. If you are flying from Europe it is generally cheaper to fly from London, and there are many frequent flights available. All domestic sectors are linked to Mumbai, making it busiest hub in the country.
Many international airlines such as British Airways, Delta, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines fly into Mumbai. Low-cost carriers such as Air Asia also fly to the city.
- T1 - Most domestic flights. Served primarily by IndiGo.
- T2 - International and some domestic flights. Served by Air India and Vistara, as well as by all foreign airlines.
The airport is 28 km from downtown; still lies in the heart of the suburban city. Take a prepaid coupon taxi to minimize hassle. Never pay more than ₹450-₹600 for a prepaid taxi. This amount should suffice to arrive at the southernmost point of Colaba, the main tourist district. While it is possible to take metered taxis to a destination, it is always a safer bet to take the prepaid taxis, in order to avoid the use of a longer, indirect route to increase the fare! While it is not mandatory to pay extra charges for luggage, a tip of ₹50-100 will be appreciated. Be careful with the main prepaid counter on the left upon leaving the terminal. The ₹100 bill and the ₹500 bill were very similar at one point of time. The old ₹100 is still valid, but the old ₹500 is not, so inspect the bills being paid with and being received.
There are many prepaid taxi offices lined up near the airport's exit. If one offers a high rate, search for a fair fare at other offices. Go to the taxi office and purchase a coupon to give to the driver. The coupon will have the taxi registration number written on it; only enter that taxi. Do not accept a lift from someone claiming to be a taxi driver as they may charge much higher prices to tourists. The charges will depend on the general area you need to get to and will include all tolls to be paid. Most premium hotels will organize their own cars, which is a much better alternative.
While most drivers should not have any problem delivering you to major hotels and intersections, do not assume your driver will be familiar with lesser-known hotels. Before departing, indicate the full address of your destination, thus avoiding delays.
It is possible to take a bus/taxi/auto to Vile Parle Station and take a local train from there. This may require walking 200 m to the intersection of the road to find an auto. Travel first class to avoid hassle. Do not try this during the morning rush. It's a good option in the evening, since it's off-peak direction then.
In any of the above cases, if you do not have a pre-booked vehicle (either by the pre-paid counter or an arrangement with the hotel), please use public transport only on the basis of the meter reading. If a driver insists on agreeing on a fare before boarding the vehicle, insist using the meter.
In order to take a taxi from the airport to a hotel, pay cash (rupees). There are prepaid taxi dispatch desks nearby, but they accept only cash, and only rupees.
A common scam directed at tourists is when a taxi arrives at the airport, a man will remove luggage from the trunk, put it in a cart, transport it towards the terminal and along the way ask for a ₹500 baggage fee. There is no baggage fee, so decline to pay and push the cart without assistance.
Paid parking is available at the airport. The charges are ₹60 per four-hour block for cars. Longer-term parking is available in a "premium" area but it is expensive, costing up to ₹600 per day.
Whileis planned to served the airport directly, for now stops at Airport Road. It is not directly connected to the airport, so while it might make for a cheaper taxi ride, it is still inconvenient.
A free shuttle bus runs between T1 and T2 for those who have a valid ticket. As the terminals are far apart and separated by runways, the bus has to go outside the airport and drop passengers at the departure complex. You will need to re-clear security, when changing terminals, have a long enough layover, as the transfer process can take hours. Going from Domestic to International requires leaving the airport and re-entering through International Departures.
Eat and drink
Café Coffee Day has a considerable presence at the airport.
There are ATM terminals in the international arrival area and many money-changers near the exit.