Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Eight denied boarding, Bengaluru airport staff seek Covid-19 negative certificate not older than 48 hours

Bengaluru: Mechanical engineer Krishna of HSR Layout claimed he wasn’t permitted to board a flydubai flight to Dubai at Kempegowda International Airport on Sunday as the airline ground staff insisted he produce report of an RT-PCR test conducted within 48 hours before departure.

Krishna, who was carrying a negative report obtained within 72 hours, underwent a fresh rapid PCR test by paying Rs 3,000 and tested negative. Yet he was turned away citing the invalidity of the 72-hour report.

No prior SMS alert on the change in test period was sent by the airline, the 52-year-old Bengalurean alleged. Seven others supposed to take the flight, FZ 406, underwent the same ordeal. They were all forced to cancel their Bengaluru-Dubai tickets costing over Rs 30,000 each.

“We received no SMS alert regarding the RT-PCR test validity being reduced to 48 hours for passengers. I came from Dubai to Bengaluru with a test report taken within 72 hours before the journey. I was shocked on Sunday morning when the flydubai ground staff refused to accept my Covid negative report with a validity of 72 hours,” lamented the engineer, who was scheduled to fly on work. He cancelled his one-way ticket and rebooked his trip.

Sources with the Dubaibased carrier said it had been updated on its official portal that travellers from India will have to produce Covid test report within 48 hours prior to departure and all passengers had been advised to thoroughly go though the rules.

“Earlier, the flydubai portal had said the test report needed to be within 72 hours but on November 11, 2021, it was changed to 48 hours and flyers were not alerted. There was no intimation via phone calls or text messages, and we had to find out at the airport gates, which was a bitter experience,” lamented another flyer who was forced to cancel his FZ 406 ticket and return to his Indiranagar residence.

The 43-year-old passenger also alleged that the flydubai ground staff made all those who were carrying reports taken 72 hours earlier undergo a rapid PCR test (based on molecular diagnostic testing) usually conducted for boarding passengers.

“We paid Rs 3,000 each for the test with the belief that they would let us board the flight if we tested negative. But that was not the case,” said the passenger. “If they didn’t plan to allow us, why did they make us pay Rs 3,000 and undergo another test? It is clear harassment,” he added.

16/11/21 Petlee Peter/Times of India

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