Traveling during Coronavirus pandemic; USA to India
In this blog post, I’m sharing my experience of traveling from USA to India during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
For the last few years, I was staying in Seattle, USA with my wife and away from my friends and family to live my American dream. We always wanted to move back to India, but why? It’s a whole different story!
We initially planned to move back in June/July of 2020 but postponed the move due to Covid-19. We were waiting for international flights to resume and allowed people in need to occupy limited seats on the flights. After evaluating the situation, and keeping safety at the highest priority, we finally decided to travel in September 2020.
Booking Flight Tickets
We booked our tickets in August 2020 under the Travel bubble arrangement between USA and India. We were traveling to Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh from Seattle, Washington, and picked AirIndia over United airlines (the only other Airline operating from USA) due to flight timing, domestic air connectivity in both USA and India, and baggage allowance. Our final itinerary was Seattle -> Newark -> Mumbai -> Indore. We traveled by road to our final destination, Ujjain. Seattle -> Newark was booked with Alaska Airline, rest were AirIndia.
We did the following before our flight as per the current guideline from the Indian Government listed here.
- Covid-19 PCR test at Seattle’s Aurora Testing Site within 96 hours of departure from Newark: https://www.solvhealth.com/city-of-seattle-seattle-wa-gdLDbg
- Filled self-declaration form at New Delhi airport’s website: https://www.newdelhiairport.in/airsuvidha/apho-registration
- We received our Covid-19 test report within 24 hours, post which we filled for exemption from Institutional Quarantine: https://www.newdelhiairport.in/airsuvidha/covid-19-exemption-international-passenger
Our experience at the airport from the entrance to boarding was very smooth at all three airports (Seattle, Newark, and Mumbai). In Seattle and Newark, it’s exactly the same as it was before the pandemic. The only difference was that the people were practicing social-distancing and sanitizing whenever necessary. Kudos to the Airport staff for keeping the airport space clean and sanitized frequently.
Mumbai’s experience was the same with the only difference of temperature check at the entrance of the Airport. In Mumbai, we had to ask people multiple times to maintain social-distance which was very well received by the people.
If you are wondering why we had to enter the Mumbai airport when we had a connecting flight, then the answer is our overnight stay at Mumbai Airport’s Niranta Hotel.
In all the flights, there were minimal in-flight services, which makes complete sense in Covid-19 times. Alaska Airline offered packed snacks, while in AirIndia international flight, one packed and one hot meal were served. In AirIndia domestic flight, packed breakfast was served. There was no in-flight entertainment on all three flights.
We carried home-cooked food and, personal blankets for the journey. We downloaded enough entertainment stuff on our tablets.
Entry experience in India
For us, the entire process after landing in India was very smooth. We were asked a copy of the self-declaration form, while at the state counter, Covid-19 test reports were asked (although it’s not mandatory to have it for entering India, it’s for getting exemption from Institutional Quarantine). Other than this, the entire process is exactly the same as pre-coronavirus times. We were given documents at the state counter to make our onward journey smooth.