Friday, February 26, 2021

New flying rules catch Telugus off guard in US

Hyderabad: The sudden change in travel rules for those intending to return to India from the US has reportedly left many, especially those from the two Telugu States, stranded at American airports. Amid the scare of a second Covid wave, the new rules have made a negative RT-PCR test, taken 72 hours prior to the journey, a must for adult passengers as well as infants.

Many flyers, who had booked their tickets before the change in rules, were caught off guard at US airports when officials asked them to furnish the test reports even for their children. Ever since, they have been flooding Twitter and Facebook support groups with messages for help. It all began when the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced that from February 22, all passengers, irrespective of age, would need to upload a negative RT-PCR report on the Air Suvidha portal before their journey. Several travellers, who had booked their tickets prior to the release of the notification on February 17, missed taking note of this rule, leading to confusion and many missing their flights.

“My wife and infant son were to travel to India on February 22 by Air India from Chicago as my mother-in-law is critical. But my wife was stopped at the airport and the authorities told her that even infants need to have a negative RT-PCR test. We did not receive any email or message from the airline regarding the updated guidelines. When we contacted the customer service, they told us that the test is not mandatory for children under two years,” Sunil Jampana said.

Several others in Canada, who booked their tickets prior to the notification, faced a similar problem. “Many were stuck at Vancouver airport due to the new requirement of a negative RT-PCR test report for infants. The airline customer care says we are allowed to travel but the Air India counter at IVR says otherwise,” tweeted Prabhanshu Pandit from Canada. The lack of flexibility in proceedings has also irked passengers. 

26/02/21 Donita Jose/New Indian Express

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