Can NRIs start booking flights to India during the COVID crisis?
Here's what we know so far.
“These are unusual times” have become a cliche now but, nevertheless it is real.
Currently, one of the biggest concerns with NRIs is that they are unable to travel back to India, even if it is for good or temporarily.
In our groups, we’re seeing more and more people asking about when flights to India would resume and when can they travel back.
To add to the chaos, India Govt. has paused all visa holders (of other countries) and OCI holders from traveling to India. (Source – Economic Times)
What does this mean to NRIs?
- They have to wait for official news from Govt. of India, allowing to travel back to India.
- They can apply for rescue flights according to the “Vande Bharat” mission.
- They can book flights to India for June/July and hope that the travel ban would be lifted by then.
So let’s look at the third option today.
For those NRIs stranded in USA or other countries, when can they travel back to India at the earliest and how.
When can NRIs travel back to India?
As of now, we do not have an idea on when NRIs and other country visa holders can travel back to India.
To get this news at the earliest, I suggest you follow the official Twitter handle of “Ministry of Civil Aviation – India” here.
This is where the Govt. of India would be updating of any news on international travel or flight availability.
However, rumours are that most international flights to India will start working from June mid. This cannot be confirmed at this point.
Can NRIs start booking tickets to India?
Many ticketing companies and airlines have started to open their bookings online and the nearest possible dates is from May 24th, 2020.
However, companies aren’t giving any guarantee on whether the flights will be available then.
Certain airlines like Emirates aren’t sure when their flights to India will be available again.
So, this means that there are no official or otherwise directions to even airline companies about when flights to India will be available again.
Those websites that have opened booking are probably doing it just as a way to keep business open. The risk of flight cancellation and losing your ticket money is very much possible with them.
Will travel insurance help?
There is a good suggestion from one of our community members for all travellers to India during this COVID pandemic season.
And that is to get travel insurance so that, even in an unfortunate event, like (flights being cancelled etc) you still don’t lose your money.
But just getting any travel insurance may not work.
You need to get “cancel for any reason” travel insurance. Under this type of insurance, you’d ideally get your flight ticket money back (not full though) even if you changed your mind.
These are special travel insurance policies and can be purchased online through a portal like this easily.
- Get covered for flight ticket cost, even in case of cancellation.
- Get covered for any loss, because of the pandemic.
Please check the fine-print and policy details before purchase of any policy. Their terms and conditions are usually very confusing.
So, at this point, we’re really hoping that it becomes safe for travel at the earliest and Govt. take appropriate measures to help NRIs travel back to India.
We’ll be updating more as we know here. Stay tuned.