It is no secret that the stoppage of commercial air travel over the past few months has left a lot of people stranded in India and also left a lot of Indians left stranded abroad. With this in mind, Air India was assigned the task of bringing back Indians from across the globe. Ideally, they are best suited for the mission given their wide-body aircraft portfolio. But Air India has been selling tickets on both legs for many flights, while the costs per seat were arrived at with the assumption that the outward leg would fly empty.
There has been a great rush for Air India’s flights, especially to and from the USA, with flights selling out three minutes after opening bookings. This also has been because a minimal number of flights have been operated in the first month of the repatriation flights mission. Now, the number of Air India Evacuation flights is set to go up. From the UK itself, there will be 32 flights that will be operated to India from June 15 to June 30, using the Boeing 787 fleet of Air India.
Flights from the United Kingdom to India during Vande Bharat Phase 3 (Information as of June 8, 2020, 1100 IST)
Apologies for the colour scheme which was provided by the HCI, London as I was not being able to sum together the routes otherwise in my excel sheets.
AirIndia Flight Booking Online for Vande Bharat Phase 3
For the first few flights that Air India operated on behalf of the Government of India to bring Indians back from the UK to India, the Government asked the High Commission based in those countries to choose who was eligible to go back. In this phase, the flights were too less, and the planning needed to be was much more. So now, Air India has been asked to operate many more flights in June 2020 itself. Due to the much higher number of flights, the embassies won’t be selecting the passengers anymore, but those who want to book these seats will be allowed to book it themselves on the Air India website.
Ticket bookings will begin on June 10, 2020, 10 AM GMT on www.airindia.in. However, there are certain things to remember before you try booking these tickets. You still need to be registered with the High Commission of India in the UK to be able to travel.
- Only those Indian nationals and OCI Cardholders with compelling cases and registered with the Embassy/Consulates will be eligible to travel on Vande Bharat Mission special flights to India.
- Indian Nationals
- Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card holders: Minor children born to Indian nationals abroad and holding OCI cards, OCI cardholders who wish to come to India on account of family emergencies like death in family, couples where one spouse is an OCI cardholder and the other is an Indian national and they have a permanent residence in India, university students who are OCI cardholders (not legally minors) but whose parents are Indian citizens living in India. [Note: The OCI cardholders falling into one of the categories mentioned above will not require any fresh emergency visa].
- Stranded Indian nationals in US, desirous of availing special VBM flights to India, and have not yet registered with the Embassy/Consulate at (https://www.hcilondon.gov.in/news_detail/?newsid=207) are advised to do so at the earliest.
- Permitted categories of the OCI Cardholders in UK, desirous of availing special VBM flights to India, and have not yet registered with the Embassy/Consulate at (https://www.hcilondon.gov.in/page/travel-of-oci-card-holders-to-india-emergency-visa-registration/) are advised to do so at the earliest.
Here is the pricing on the Vande Bharat NSOP flights. If you have an existing ticket with Air India, you will only have to pay GBP 290 for the new booking. But you will have to call and do it, not online.
If you are looking to fly back to India from London/ rest of the UK, you should be ready to book your tickets at 0800 GMT on June 10, 2020. Before that, you would need to register your request with the HCI London as well. And if Air India’s track record is anything to go by, get yourself a lot of patience to go by, and if you have multiple credit cards, keep them along as well. Air India’s website will get slammed at the opening hour, and things will go wrong before they go right. So plan for a few hours in the process.
All the best!
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