It’s been two years of living with the Covid-19 pandemic, restricted to our homes, avoiding travel. But there seem no chances of resuming the normal traveling system. Both countries have been facing problems to start international flights between the USA and India. But India faced a lot of struggles to introduce special flights from the USA to India. And the Indian government has allowed these flights to fly because of specific reasons.
India closed its international borders on 25th March 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. And soon after that, on 7th May 2020, the Indian government launched the Vande Bharat Mission. Till now, about 91 lakh people have taken the benefits of the special flights.
The vaccination drive both in India and the USA is achieving new limits daily. Thus the urge of people to travel between these countries has grown fonder. Thus, giving rise to the question of when will non stop flights from USA to India, and India to the USA will start. And when will the normal traveling begin?
The non-stop flights between the USA and India have been resumed. But the question still stands for the direct flights to Delhi from USA. Or connecting flights that fly between these two countries. Let’s try to find out who can book the USA to India flights and when will normal travel begin?
Did the normal flights between India and the USA resume?
The answer is a big no. The government of India has banned international flights until 31st March 2021. And a few airlines are getting the travel permits only. Air India has a bubble agreement with the government to fly special flights to multiple locations including the US.
Can I book a flight between the USA and India?
For booking non stop flights from USA to India or India to the USA, fulfill one of the following different eligibility criteria:
- A stranded Indian national.
- You must have an OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) card along with a US passport.
- Foreigners having a valid visa and fitting in one of the following categories –
- Foreign business executives who came to India using business visas by commercial or chartered non-scheduled flights. Except for the B3 visa, provided for sports.
- Foreign healthcare researchers, healthcare personnel, engineers, and technicians. Invited to India to give their services in the healthcare sector of the country. This includes working with labs or factories serving the healthcare industry during these times. All you need to have is proof of a registered and recognized health care facility from India. With an invitation inviting you to come and join their team.
- Foreign Managers, Engineers, Designers, and Specialist officers traveling to India on behalf of foreign companies doing their business in India are exempted under this scheme. These businesses include manufacturing units, design units, software, and IT companies, and all the financial corporations, including both banking and non-banking firms.
- Foreign engineers or technical support specialists traveling for operations like installation, fixation, repairs, and maintenance of machines and equipment in the country.
- Foreign engineers and technicians visiting the country for fixation, repairs, and maintenance for foreign-originated machinery. A registered entity must invite these people to India.
- Foreign nationals with a valid business or employment visa to India provided by the Indian Mission/ Posts Abroad. Except for the B-3 visa provided for sports, these visas need to be re-validated from the Indian Mission/ Posts Abroad. And the e-copies or earlier validated visas will not provide you an entry to the country.
Who is eligible for booking flights from India to the USA?
- Indian citizens with valid US visas can book air tickets from India to the USA. As far as the entry in the county is concerned, the airline that will fly you to the country would be responsible to ensure that you face no travel restrictions there.
- Legal permanent residents of the US, citizens of the US, and foreign nationals with valid US visas.
- Seamen holding Indian passports or Seamen holding foreign nationalities (for clearance by the Ministry of Shipping).
From where can I book flights from India to the USA and back?
You can book India to USA flight tickets either from the official airlines’ websites or a trusted travel agency. Till now, Air India is the only airline providing flying services between the USA and India. But then the other travel agencies raised a voice against this monopolistic behavior and got permission to fly as well. Because of this, the ticket booking process has become super smooth and easy.
Which airlines are currently operating between India and US borders?
A bubble agreement is done under the Vande Bharat Mission between the government of India and different carriers who provide their services on the India and USA route.
Bubble agreements or transport bubbles are agreements made between two countries to restore or restart commercial flying services. Air India Express and Air India airlines are currently the biggest flying services provider on the US and India routes. Other airlines that are working hard and providing great services on this route are Air Canada, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and KLM.
When will the normal travel between the USA and India begin?
The long-lasting pandemic has taught us that nothing is going to change overnight. India needs to resume its domestic flights’ connectivity to ensure smooth international travel. According to the latest update, the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Affairs) India, has issued an order regarding the current condition of International travel within the country. This order states that international flights to India and from India shall remain suspended until 30th June 2021.
But the special flights flying under the Vande Bharat Mission and the current air travel bubble will continue to provide their services. For now, India is having an air bubble agreement with 28 different countries. This list contains Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Bhutan, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Kuwait, Iraq, Kenya, Maldives, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Tanzania, UAE, Ukraine, and Seychelles.
What should I do until normal traveling resumes?
Until normal traveling resumes, the special flights flying under the Vande Bharat Mission are the only ray of hope for international travel. But for that, clear the eligibility criteria set by the country you are visiting. Also, follow the traveling guidelines provided by the two nations to ensure a safe and smooth traveling experience.
The approval of Pfizer Drugs shows a new hope to travel enthusiasts and shows the hope that traveling my resume soon. People have been taking the approved vaccination jabs since 13th December 2020. And daily the number of vaccinated people has been increasing significantly. The first doses of the vaccine were provided to the health care workers and then the frontline workers got their jobs. Now the people above the age of I8 in India are eligible for both doses of vaccine.
As the number of vaccinated people is increasing in both countries, and the number of vaccinated people is keen to travel again. There are high chances that you won’t need special flights and a set of restrictions to fly between the US and India.
FAQs or the Frequently asked questions
Is it safe to take a trip to India in the current scenarios?
Well, it’s a mixed deal and depends upon your vaccination condition. Although India has a great Covid-19 recovery rate, precautions are always better than cure. If you have taken both doses of vaccination or are fully vaccinated, then it is safe for you to take a trip to India. Otherwise, we will recommend you wait until you get your vaccinations done.
Can I travel to India with a B-3 visa?
Well, traveling to India with a B-3 visa is not possible currently. But there are high hopes that the government will be soon easing a few restrictions. And more likely you will fly to India with a B-3 visa then.
Which foreign national categories may enter India with an OCI card?
The Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreign division) has permitted a few categories of OCI (Overseas Card Holders) to enter India. Let’s get to know these categories.
- Minor Overseas Card Holders with both parents as Indian Nationals can enter the country.
- It also permitted an OCI Card Holder visiting India because of family emergencies to enter the country after sharing the reason for traveling. These emergencies include poor health conditions of a cardholder family member or the death of one of the cardholder family members.
- Married couples, among which one is an Indian national, and the other is an OCI cardholder.
- Any student holding an OCI Card can enter India. But one parent of such a student should be an Indian National or an OCI cardholder.
How can I stay safe during international travels between the USA and India?
There are a lot of tips and tricks that you could use to ensure your safety during international travels. Let’s know a few of these tips and tricks.
- Always wear a doctor’s approved mask.
- Regular use of hand sanitizers.
- Avoid touching airport surfaces.
- Bring your food to the flight, and,
- Maintain social distancing.
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