With the US restrictions on entry of non-Americans travelling from India kicking in from Tuesday, the last flight heading out from Mumbai was chaotic, with several passengers having tickets claiming that they were refused entry in the flight at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.
The US imposed restrictions on travel from India from May 4 because of the high Covid-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in the country. The last flight for the US from Mumbai was on the intervening night of May 3 and 4. Due to the ban, several flights were cancelled and curtailed.
Maitri Shah, a passenger of the Air Qatar Mumbai-Doha-Chicago flight, said, “We were stranded at the airport Monday night for over 6 hours. The airline eventually denied 50 of us from boarding. Different passengers had emails and got airline officials in touch with the Dallas immigration officer, a member from Seattle Homeland Security and officials from the US embassy stating that our flight was well within the travel ban and could take off, but they refused to accept it. It was terribly sad. People had travelled from Hyderabad, Chennai, Nagpur and Pune to Mumbai for that one flight, after multiple RT-PCR tests, managing children, respecting the lockdown.”
It has been observed that flight tickets were as high as Rs 2.21 lakh for a single journey, and there were instances of flights getting cancelled frequently, resulting in non-availability of tickets.
“My brother had come from the US for the last rites of my mother, who succumbed to COVID-19 last week. He wanted to return to the US urgently as his eight-year-old son was alone, but the flight he booked got cancelled abruptly. Getting another ticket was almost impossible as all flights were packed. We had to pay Rs 2.21 lakh for the single journey and finally got a flight from Delhi,” said Sandeep Darveshi, a Mumbai resident.
When contacted, the MIAL spokesperson she said the decision for allowing to board falls under the airlines. The airline representatives did not comment.