Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Bengaluru: Flyers from non-risk countries being forced to pre-book tests

Bengaluru: A Bengalurean attempting to board an Emirates airlines flight in New York on December 7, 2021 was barred from boarding as he had not pre-booked a Covid-19 test to be taken at his port of arrival — Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) in Bengaluru.

The man had not booked a test since rules issued by the Centre state flyers from the US need only an RT-PCR negative report to enter the country. They do not have to undergo a Covid-19 test on arrival since the country is categorised as ‘non-risk’ for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

In a climate where Covid guidelines for flyers, especially international travellers, change by the hour, passengers struggle to stay abreast of the rules. They end up being barred from boarding due to non-compliance. Airlines are largely to blame as they often fail to update their customers.

Pre-booking a Covid-19 test for transit at the port of landing is the latest menace. The passenger from New York is one of many who have faced the menace of unwarranted pre-booking of tests forced on them by airlines. Many have lost ticket money and are suffering mental agony.

“I was scheduled to board Emirates flight EK 202 at JFK Airport to Bengaluru via Dubai, but ground staff in New York refused to allow me to board as they wanted me to prebook a Covid test in Bengaluru,” said added Abhilash (name changed on request), a Sadashivanagar resident. He added: “I tried to explain to them that India has categorised the US as a non-risk nation for Omicron and testing on arrival is not mandatory. But staff refused to allow me to board unless I had a test booking confirmation which I was forced to do.”

When he eventually landed at KIA, he walked out without needing to take the test as his Covid-19 negative report with 72 hours validity was enough, airport authorities here told him.

14/12/21 Petlee Peter/Times of India

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