May 23, 2020 7:23:01 am
With domestic commercial flights resuming from Monday after being grounded for almost two months due to the Covid-19 lockdown, there are various restrictions in terms of baggage, arrival time, security check requirements, transport to airport and check-in facilities.
The government has issued a price cap and a floor to keep the fares under control, given that there will be a surge in demand that, if left to market forces, could cause fares to skyrocket.
Here is what you may have to do, take care of, and be prepared to go through as you embark on a flight.
How do you know that those travelling with you are not infected? Quite simply, you don’t.
However, the government has made thermal screening mandatory for all passengers, and everyone is supposed to download the Aarogya Setu smartphone app, which will inform the authorities whether you are coming from a highly infected zone. In case you don’t have Aarogya Setu, its downloading will be facilitated by airport staff right there.
No passenger coming from a containment zone is allowed to fly. Passengers have to sign an undertaking declaring they are not coming from a containment zone, and that they have no symptoms of Covid. If there are multiple passengers on one PNR, one declaration is enough.
How much baggage can you carry?
Only one cabin bag and one check-in bag is allowed. No matter what the pressing reason, do not carry more than one check-in bag. If you do, you will be putting yourself at the mercy of the airline staff.
What about laptop bags? Do they count as one piece of cabin baggage?
You will be allowed to carry a laptop bag or a ladies handbag in addition to your cabin baggage in the flight.
Since no food will be available on the flight, what if you feel hungry?
Passengers can carry dry food items with themselves. But it is advised not to eat inside the aircraft. Remember, in case you have to eat — either due to medical reasons or otherwise — you will be taking off your mask to do so, in the processing endangering both yourself and your co-passengers.
Only web check-in is allowed, which means you don’t go to the counter. So who tags your baggage?
According to guidelines issued by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), all passengers have to do web check-in to ensure minimal human contact at the airport.
Passengers are supposed to take a print-out of the baggage tag at the time of web check-in, and paste it on their baggage. If they do not have access to a printer, they can simply write the ticket PNR along with their name on a piece of paper and paste it on the bag. The system of stamping of boarding passes and the need for baggage tags has already been done away with.
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What about elderly passengers who have difficulty walking? How will things change for them?
To begin with, the elderly have been advised not to take flights because of their heightened vulnerability to the virus.
However, if it is absolutely essential for them to travel, there are provisions for wheelchairs and, at certain airports, golf carts to help them board the flight.
Airport operators have been asked to keep the wheelchairs and golf carts sanitised at all times.
The use of trolleys to carry baggage too is discouraged, but will be available if one really needs it.
There will also be a triage centre at all airports to help people if they fall sick or begin to show any Covid-19 symptoms.
What if a passenger has a connecting flight the following day? Where will she stay?
Hotels across all cities are shut. But passengers are allowed wait in the transit area.
In fact, no one is allowed out of the transit area according to guidelines issued by the government.
Airports will have refreshment kiosks running, which can be availed of.
Are there any other do’s and don’ts?
The process of embarking and disembarking from the aircraft will happen sequentially.
So please do not crowd the boarding gate as soon as it opens.
Also, many people have a habit of jumping up from their seat, snatching their cabin bag out of the overhead bin, and standing in the aisle as soon as the aircraft lands. Please do not do this.
The crew will announce seat numbers, and only those passengers whose seat numbers are called out will be allowed to disembark.
In case you are carrying a disposable mask, you may want to discard it, because you will get a fresh set of mask and shield at the airport.
If you want to discard your mask, you must do so only in designated yellow bins that will be available at all airports.
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