Newark to Mumbai AI flight experience | Flights during Corona

 Must read before traveling from the USA to India 

    Newark to Mumbai/Thane AI flight experience

    Recently I had to travel from the USA to India with my 11year old son. A journey I wanted to avoid but could not due to a situation out of my control. 

    I am one of those who are extra cautious in all situations and did not want to take any risk as I was traveling along with my son.

    I started my research about Air travel between the USA to India (Mumbai). I enrolled myself in FB groups which were a great source of information but in spite of a lot of people sharing their experience, there were few points that I found slipped out of the crack. Hence writing this post to capture all the details.

    US-to-India


    Flights from the USA to Mumbai:

    Due to the Covid situation, there are limited flights between the USA and India. On top of it, not all the international airports had flights to major destinations in India.

    In my case, I had to travel to Bhayander (Thane) which is a city adjacent to Mumbai. After some research, I found that only Air India and United are having service between the USA (Newark) to Mumbai.

    I have been following various groups and forums which shared the travel experience during Corona and noticed that rules were changing on a regular basis.

    For example, initially, the person traveling to India had to register with the Indian consulate, this was the time only Air India Flights were allowed into India.

    After few months, United also started its service and the process to register with the Indian Consulate stopped.

    This post captures my experience where I traveled on 9th Oct 2020 from Newark and landed in Mumbai on 10th Oct 2020.

    For me, the tickets were booked by my company so I was not involved. This post covers my journey from Newark airport to Mumbai.

    Before traveling

    To avoid institutional quarantine after landing in Mumbai, I got my Covid test done from Walgreens (it should be done not earlier than 96 hrs before boarding the flight)
    Walgreens mailed me the report so it was available when I landed in Mumbai.

    I also filled the Self-declaration form and Exemption forms on Delhi Airport Air Suvidha site

    As my covid report was not available, the exemption request got rejected but then the authorities accept the email report after landing.

    While filling the forms, I was not aware of the PNR number and seat number, I left PNR blank and entered "Seat not allocated" in the seat number box.

    I took printouts of all the docs in case the mobile dies on me and it turned out to be a good decision.

    Journey begins

    The face mask is a Must!!

    comfortable protective face masls

    We reached Newark airport more than 4hrs in advance. The cab dropped us near the Air India terminal.


    As We entered the airport, the staff gave me a form to fill, it had details of the address where I will be staying in India, the self-declaration reference number, passport number, etc.

    Once the check-in process started, the staff took the temperature, verified the passport, checked the self-declaration form.

    Make sure luggage weight is within the limit, they weighed carry-on bags as well and I had to do some adjustments to meet the 7kg cabin bag limit.

    Good for me there was a weighing machine near one of the entrances and I was able to juggle some of the items.

    I was carrying some food which was causing my cabin bag to be overweight, I took out food and carried it in a separate plastic bag.

    The flight was on time, at the time of boarding again temperature was checked, documents verified and photos taken.

    All the passengers were handed over a face mask, face shield and made to sanitize hands. 

    In the plane, middle seats were left vacant and some of the back rows were completely vacant.

    Note: Grab the empty rows quickly in case you want to lay down during travel.

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    In-Flight

    Snacks were kept on our seats, we settled down and grabbed a bite.
    As the plane took off, we dozed off. There was not entertainment facility (recently I heard it's on, passengers have to carry headphones).

    Hot lunch was also served along with coke and beer.

    Air India being what it is, does not have high expectations on cleanliness but it was bearable.

    After landing in Mumbai, we collected our luggage. As we moved towards the exit, we were asked to download the Arogya setu app (I had already downloaded it in the US but could not register it). In case you do not have an India sim, they will make you sign a form that you will activate it as soon as you reach home.

    Moving forward, the luggage was scanned and we moved to the last leg of the airport process.

    There is a Covid test facility at the airport in case you did not get it done before traveling. I believe it takes 4-5 hours to get results and the cost is around Rs1500. In case you need a lounge facility, you need to pay more.

    There were separate counters for Mumbai, Thane, Pune, etc where the officials checked the docs, confirmed the home address. In case you have not arranged for your own car, there are cab providers at the airport.

    Officials need the car number and driver's name before letting you go.
    Since our flight was the only one around that time, the whole process did not take much time.

    The cab driver took us to a Hotel which was being used as the final verification point to decide if you get home quarantine or institutional.

    The officials asked for printouts of all the docs we filled in Air suvidha, a xerox of passport, and one additional form was given for filling it.

    In case you do not have the copies, the reception has the facility of the printout (Rs5 per copy). Free wifi in the hotel was very helpful in retrieving the soft copies in the mail.

    Officials checked all docs and stamped home quarantine on hands.

    Once the formalities were done, the cab dropped us at home.

    The stamp got washed out in the first bath but we ensured to follow the 14 days of quarantine even though no one was watching us.

    Conclusion:

    The 15hr journey from Newark to Mumbai was tiring but I felt safe on the flight. The food provided by airlines was good for me.

    I was surprised to see no stubborn official, all were very polite and helpful. No Bribe/Tips expected at any point!!

    Do put your queries in the comments section in case you need more details on any point.


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