As India restarts domestic flights today, following a two-month ban, you many have many questions. What are the new rules? Where can I fly? Is it safe to fly? Let’s answer some of these questions.
What are the new rules?
Flying during the coronavirus raises a number of questions, with safety being the top one. To reduce the risk of passengers contracting the coronavirus during travel, the government has laid out several new rules. The process begins even before you reach the airport. Passengers must check-in online and download India’s contact tracing app (Aarogya Setu). Those traveling can only carry a single cabin bag and one checked-in bag.
At the airport, passengers should arrive two hours before their flight and will be subjected to a thermal temperature scan upon entry. Social distancing will be enforced in the airport, to ensure minimum contact among passengers. Shops and food outlets within the airport will be open, however, passengers should avoid crowding. Airlines will also provide every passenger with a safety kit, containing a mask, face shield, and sanitizer.
Onboard, services will be significantly rolled back. Airlines will no longer offer inflight meals, magazines, or shopping. Additionally, all crew on the flight will be wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for safety. It should be noted that airlines will not be enforcing social distancing on board, which means you likely will not have a free seat next to you.
Where are airlines flying?
Following the Civil Aviation Minister’s announcement that flights will resume, several states have resisted this call, fearing a rise in cases. However, since then, all states have allowed a limited number of flights. This excludes Andhra Pradesh and the recently storm-hit state of West Bengal.
Currently, the government has allowed 33% of flights from the pre-lockdown levels. This means cities can expect reduced capacity for the next few months. Flight services have also resumed in highly-affected cities such as Mumbai, although many states are mandating quarantine measures for anyone entering the state.
While flights might be resuming, the question is whether it is safe to travel. There is a general consensus that everyone should avoid any non-essential travel for the time being. However, if you do need to travel, planes aren’t as unsafe as once thought. Cabin air is recirculated multiple times an hour, reducing the risk of any virus transmission.
Along with new disinfection procedures, your chances of catching the virus on the plane are low. However, moving through a crowded terminal in close proximity with so many people still remains a risk. In the end, the decision to fly still depends on your risk appetite.
Will you be taking a domestic flight soon? Are these rules enough? Let us know in the comments below.