Flyers cancelling tickets over quarantine worries

Coronavirus: Flyers cancelling tickets over quarantine worries

They want out when they realise it could take up to two weeks to get home after reaching their destination

Upon arrival at the Bengaluru airport, passengers from red zones are asked to choose a category of hotel: budget, mid-range or five-star. BMTC buses then drop them to their quarantine centres. DH PHOTOS BY BK JANARDHAN

Air travel resumed after two months on May 25, but bookings are dicey, given the confusion over quarantining. Last-minute cancellation of flights is another major worry. The good news is that the fares haven’t spiked. But passengers are cancelling their tickets when they realise they may have to stay in quarantine for up to two weeks. A 14-day stay in a five-star quarantine hotel in Bengaluru adds up to Rs 49,700 (at Rs 3,550 a day), and passengers have to factor in the extra cost and time in when they plan their trips. At a budget hotel, two weeks comes to Rs 16,800. (See box for details.)

Adding to their woes are last-moment flight cancellations. On the first day of flights resuming after two months, Delhi reported 80 flights were cancelled, with passengers coming to know of the cancellations only after reaching the airport. Air India has reportedly cancelled 92 flights between May 28 and June 1. 

Many people are not willing to stay in quarantine and spend money on it, so they have cancelled their trips and decided to wait for the rules to change. Passengers must be informed about the quarantine rates for various categories before they start their journey, but it turns out the information isn’t shared in time for them to make informed decisions. 

They have the liberty to choose their category of stay but can’t choose a particular hotel citing proximity to their living location, company
policy or personal preference.  The passengers are given colour-coded coupons around the time of arrival to show where they stay: white for budget hotels, orange for three-star hotels and green for five-star hotels

“We’ve seen a lot of cancellation because of the rules varying from state to state,” explains Nishant Pitti, CEO of ticket aggregator EaseMyTrip. 

Things to remember 

Two days before travel, passengers can web check-in and print out their boarding passes and baggage tags. Digital tickets are also an option now.  No food is served on board, but some airlines provide water. Passengers are not allowed to carry food on the plane either.

What can people do if they are following strict eating schedules? “It’s best if they don’t travel at this time,”
Pitti says. He advises people to book tickets only a day before the travel date, given the spare of flight cancellations. 

Quarantine in Bengaluru

So how much does it cost to be quarantined in Bengaluru? Here are the rates, inclusive of taxes. Breakfast is complimentary at hotels with three, four and five-star rating.

Five-star (Luxury) 

Rs 3,000 per person/day.

Rs 3,700 for twin occupancy

Rs 550 for lunch and dinner.

(Ten hotels listed) 

Three- and four-star (Mid-range)

Rs 1,500 per person/day.

Rs 1,750 for twin occupancy. 

Rs 175 for lunch and dinner.

(27 hotels listed)

Budget 

Rs 1,200 per person/day.

Rs 1,400 for twin occupancy. 

(Breakfast, lunch, dinner included.
35 hotels listed.) 

No spike in ticket rates
Metrolife checked out air-ticket pricing for the coming week.
For May 30, the lowest fares from Bengaluru to Hyderabad and Kochi were around Rs 3,000.
To Jaipur, it costs about Rs 5,000 and goes up to Rs 8,600 for the last flight. Chandighar rate starts around Rs 7,000 and goes up to Rs 10,000.
Bengaluru to Chennai is Rs 2,400 and goes up to Rs 9,800. On June 7, Sunday, the starting fares were similar and the most expensive tickets came to about Rs 10,000 for some cities.

Quarantine a must
On Thursday, the Karnataka government urged the ministry of civil aviation to reduce flights from five states — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Those coming from these states, and Delhi, have to go into 7-day institutional quarantine.

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