Thursday, June 24, 2021

International flyers struggle with travel rules

Panaji: The varying norms surrounding international air travel requiring Covid-negative certificates have added pressure on already hassled travellers.In one such incident, a fully-vaccinated traveller from Goa who had booked a Goa-Delhi-Bahrain trip with a layover of five hours in Delhi, was denied permission to fly onwards from Delhi to Bahrain after airline officials refused to honour his Covid-19 RT-PCR negative certificate that was cleared for travel in Goa by the same airline. Both flights were on a single itinerary.

Stuck in Delhi since June 19, Andrew Gomez had to find accommodation and bear additional financial burdens as he, along with 10 others, wasn’t permitted to board the AI-939 Delhi-Bahrain flight at 11.05pm on June 19.

“If my Covid-negative certificate was accepted by Air India in Goa, there’s no reason why the same airline shouldn’t have let me board in Delhi,” he told TOI.

According to information on the website of the Indian bureau of immigration, all passengers travelling to Bahrain are required to carry a negative RT-PCR report that should be validated and certified by an ICMR-accredited lab and conducted within 48 hours of departure.

Gomez got his RT-PCR test done in Goa on June 17, received the results the next day, and travelled to Delhi on June 19 with the certificate.

Shalini, another passenger who was scheduled to travel on the same flight to Bahrain, was shocked when she was told by the airline’s staff that her negative RT-PCR report was valid only until 8.10pm on June 19. She had arrived at Delhi airport from Coimbatore by 7.50pm, in time to catch the 11.05pm Bahrain-bound flight. “They waited until I reached Delhi and then said I could not board the flight to Bahrain. Why wasn’t I stopped from travelling at Coimbatore itself? Also, it takes at least 24 hours for RT-PCR results to be declared. So, does that mean that passengers who spend exorbitant amounts on international flight tickets should take a gamble and go for an RT-PCR test just a day prior to their travel? ” Shalini said.

24/06/21 Lisa Monteiro/Times of India

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