Even as the Ministry of Civil Aviation has decided to resume domestic flight services from next week, people still have apprehensions of travelling by air from one state to another amid the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Personal safety, hygiene, and risk of exposure to the virus in public spaces is still a matter of concern as the number of COVID-19 positive cases in India are on a rise.
However, if you are planning to book a flight ticket to travel in the next few days, it is imperative to know the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by the Civil Aviation Ministry. The guidelines have been put in place to ensure passenger safety and decrease the risk of catching an infection.
At the initial stage, passengers have been asked to report to the airport at least two hours before the departure time. It will be mandatory for everyone to wear a face mask at the time of entering the airport till the entire journey.
Thermal screening of passengers will be conducted at the airport entrance. Passengers must mandatorily download the Aarogya Setu mobile app. For those who do not have the app, a self-declaration form has to be given to ensure that the passenger is free of COVID-19 symptoms. Passengers with the ‘red status’ on the app will not be permitted to travel.
All passengers will need to obtain their boarding passes through the web check-in. There will be no check-in counters. They will also be required to download the baggage tag for their check-in luggage, which is restricted to one bag and one handbag.
If passengers wish to access F&B and retail shops at the airport, social distancing norms must be followed within the stores. At the boarding gate, passengers will be provided with a safety kit, which will include a face mask, face shield and a sanitiser.
Once inside the aircraft, passengers will not be allowed to consume any eatables. On-board meal services have been suspended, along with the supply of magazines and newspapers. Water bottles may be provided in the gallery area on the seats.
Operations will start on 1/3 of the approved Summer schedule for domestic routes in a calibrated manner from 25 May 2020 & will be scaled up gradually.
After domestic travel has been eased, we will address the issue of international travel depending on the evolving situation.
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 21, 2020
Passengers have been advised to minimize the use of lavatory in the flight and to avoid any non-essential movement in the aisles. Queuing at the lavatory must be avoided and only one companion for children and the elderly will be allowed.
Apart from the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Airport Authority of India (AAI), several airlines such as Air India, Indigo, Air Vistara, Go Air etc are likely to issue their own SOPs, which are to be followed by passengers.