Cheapest Airport Transfers: Chennai airport (MAA): Rs 5 onwards!

Reaching city centre or your hotel or home from airport can sometime get very expensive. Reasons could be many. Such as
  • Airport could be far from city (like BIAL)
  • No public transport to airport, forced to take Taxi
  • Expensive airport parking fees make taxi even more expensive
  • New visitors not familiar with their options or reasonable fare can get conned by taxi drivers
In this series, I am planning to publish a series of posts, suggesting cheaper options to reach your final destination from airports. Beginning with Chennai airport and will try to cover more airports in days to come. Please share tips related to airports in your city, so that I can compile and share as a post. (Will give credit if your tip off is used)
Cheapest way out from Chennai Airport
Thankfully Chennai airport is within city limits. Sometimes when I book tickets on a sale, my return ticket cost will be as low as Rs 1500-1700. If I have to spend several hundreds on airport transfer, the entire trip economics go for a toss. So I always look for cheaper ways to reach airport,even if it is not the most convenient one. Below are the list of options.

Cheapest Option 1: MRTS from Thirusalam Railway Station
You will have to walk about half a km from arrival point. Take underpass and cross the road to Thirusalam railway station. Operational from about 4 AM till midnight. From Tirusalam, you can take local train to Tambaram or Chengalpet in one direction and Chennai central/beach station on the other. Fare is Rs 5/10 only.  Go as far as you can and take a bus/auto/ola for the last few miles. This is my most preferred option, except while hauling heavy luggage or when arriving/departing at a time during which trains do not operate.

Cheaper Option 2: MTC City bus
City buses stop right on the main road opposite the airport. You need to know which direction your destination is, to avoid boarding wrong bus. If you're not sure of exact bus number, take any bus that goes to Guindy/Saidapet/Kathipara (for destinations north of airport) or to Pallavaram/Tambaram (for destinations South of Chennai airport). From these hubs you can take another bus to your destination. Bus fare is usually Rs 5 onwards, but approx Rs 13 to Rs 17 if you're destination is about 10-15 kms away. You can also buy a Rs 50 all day pass- valid across MTC non-AC fleet.

This link is useful to find out route numbers. There're many other sites and apps as well.
MTC had an airport shuttle that plies between Airport arrival area and Koyambedu CMBT, but I think it is discontinued now. It had a fare of Rs 120 per person and would leave every 30 mins or so. Metro is better.

Cheaper Option 3: Chennai Metro
Chennai metro service to airport is now operational. You might have to change trains at Alandur but still can reach Koyambedu or Vadapalani etc for under Rs 50.  Metro operates 6 AM onwards till midnight

Cheaper Option 4: Uber/Ola
If first 3 options are not preferred (if you have lots of bags or elders or simply prefer a convenient way), you can try Uber/Ola. Under normal conditions a 12-15 km journey from airport can cost between Rs 150-200. More if there's high demand, less if there're some offers etc. On any day Uber/Ola is far more better than airport prepaid taxis which will be minimum 3 times expensive.

Using Ola Share/Uber Pool could save you little more. Uber/Ola drivers might ask you to walk a bit to a spot away from regular taxi pickup point, to avoid confrontation with airport cab drivers or to ensure they don't have to pay parking fee (cars entering airport get 5 mins free time beyond which parking charges apply)

Expensive Option 1: Govt Prepaid taxi (Black n yellow cabs)
The prepaid counter operated by govt runs a fleet of old Ambassadors and AC Swift Dzires. Ambassador fleet is very old, without AC. Their charges are cheaper than fast track and Aviation Express but still nowhere close to normal fares of Uber/Ola. A 20km journey can cost Rs 600+

Expensive Option 2: Fast Track call taxi
Fast Track has a prepaid taxi counter in airport and operates a large fleet of cars. Their fares are bit expensive than Black n Yellow cabs but cars are better. Few guys pretend to help you with your luggage and then expect some tip. A 20km journey can cost about Rs 750.

The same fast track, if you call from nearby Tirusalam Railway station through their call centre can cost you half the airport fare. This is because airport taxis need to pay hefty parking fees and wait all day for customers, the cost of which is transferred to those who decide to book them.

Expensive Option 3: Aviation Express: They are the most expensive taxi service of the lot. They run a fleet of Innovas, convenient if you have lots of bags or lots of people. You will get loads of salutes and respect for the extra money you pay.

Alternate Option 1: Zoomcar/Myles/Revv Self-drive car rentals
Zoomcar has a station half a km from Chennai airport. You can walk in (or they can deliver for extra 300 Rs) and drive out. This option is very convenient if you plan to return to airport within a day or two. Price varies depending on car model, rental duration, kms used, weekday/weekend etc. For a 2 day weekend rental for a small car like Ford Figo, expect an expense of around INR 4500

Few other companies like Myles or Revv can also be considered. Read my comparison of these self drive car rental agencies here on my other blog.
For nearby destinations
1 Mahabalipuram
If your destination is Mahabalipuram, cheapest option will be to reach CMBT or Madhya Kailash and take a bus from there.

Alternatively consider Zoomcar self drive rental stated above. If you don't prefer bus/self drive and prefer to be driven around, book Ola oustation or Fast track/Sarman Cab company cabs.

2 Pondy
Buses to Pondy via GST road are readily available near the airport but frequency is not as high as those plying on ECR. You can try right opposite airport or go to CMBT/Madhya Kailash for more options. Taxi all the way will be expensive. Try self drive or go to Pondy by bus and rent a car locally.

Do you have any other tips/tricks to travel to and from Chennai International Airport? What is your most preferred option? Do comment below.


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