Well, we travelled to our home country! After mulling over the possibilities and risks, after weighing the pros and cons, after finding all the necessary information and documents needed for the journey and because we had, what we felt, like a compelling reason – We travelled from Stockholm to Mumbai via Frankfurt with Lufthansa Airlines.
I had previously discussed my thoughts on the whole idea of travelling during these unprecedented times here in this blog. Well, back then it was unprecedented, now may be not so much. Now, I felt people and airlines are getting a hang of the situation and are following necessary precautions.
I will hence be providing with most important information, we made sure before our travel, though, I can’t stress enough that please do your own research.
- Flight tickets
All airlines aren’t flying to your home country, hence, make sure that you have a valid ticket from the official airlines website. Book a ticket of airline that have been approved by Indian government under Air bubble agreement. Also follow Air Bubble Europe Facebook group which provides useful information. Group made by Indians about travel between India and Europe
Lufthansa wasn’t flying to India till last month, they had just resumed, so we were not sure if our flight will get cancelled last minute. Print the tickets, boarding pass if necessary. Keep a track of changing regulations of your country and airlines policies, everything changes. Though, I must say after booking the tickets, we also got additional emails from the airline provider reminding us to fill the mandatory documents of Indian government,which was a responsibile thing. I think it is wise to stay with same Airlines as well if you have a layover. We had 3 hours layover at the Frankfurt airport.
- Government documents
These are the most crucial ones. I had debated writing down the exact list we had prepared but decided it is best for you to search for yourself. These regulations and required documents are changing quite often. It is best to keep yourself updated till the date of your departure.
In short, you need a negative covid RT PCR test, need to inform the government about your arrival details well in advance before you arrive on their website, need to make sure if you have to inform the embassy of your country or mission through which you have a layover. Besides if you are availing for exemption from institutional quarantine then you need it to be approved by the government well in advance. Also installing Arogya setu app is important.
Since we were flying to our home country, this part was easy for us. We didn’t require any visa. I could see few non Indians on our flight, so I guess some guests are allowed in India now, though I am not sure under what category.
- At airport experience
Stockholm Arlanda Airport had on desk bag drop. Security was super controlled, one family standing for the check at a time, no crowding. Masks to be worn at all times. We sat on the gate for an hour or so. Boarding happens according to the groups written on your boarding pass. If group is not mentioned then report to the desk, or if you are with toddler, you might have preferential boarding, allowing you to board first. People were sitting away from from each other and generally quiet.
Frankfurt It was a comparatively busy airport, but it is a huge airport, hence you will find open space to rest and eat something. You can remove your mask only for eating or drinking. Before Frankfurt – Mumbai flight, we had an immigration control at the airport as well as documents control at the gate by the flight staff.
- In flight experience
Stockholm – Frankfurt flight had 3*3 seats of which only two were used, keeping middle seat empty. We were provided with sanitizing wipes as we entered. Coffee/tea/ juice cart made a round once and we also got kitkat to munch on. My toddler slept through it luckily because it was a early morning flight.
. Frankfurt – Mumbai flight was not super crowded but not entirely empty either. We got two hot meals like the usual passenger flight. Same rules of masks. Eight hours felt so long with a toddler.
Care we took : Out toddler wore her face shield at airport mostly, not so much in the flight. That part was tricky. We alcohol sprayed our seats and hand rests, buckles for our peace of mind. We wore FFPE2 masks. We were surprisingly comfortable. We changed into fresh masks once we were in the 8 hour flight. We did not opt for colapsable stroller but our toddler sat with us on a baby carrier which had a hip seat. We were so thankful and it helped us.
- At Mumbai airport
Okay! This is where it was a long process. After arrival we did not disembark for nearly 45minutes because few flights had arrived at same time and it was crowded at some check. When they finally allowed us to leave, we were again held in an area for 30 minutes.
Next step was were they checked self reporting forms and boarding pass. They scanned our boarding pass at this point. Then we arrived at the immigration control.
Next step is where arogya setu app gets checked. If you have Indian sim card then you need to show the registration on the app, if you don’t have then you promise to register later on the app.
Then the next step was picking up the bags which were ready for us ( never happened before).
Then came the custom control scans of all bags. Final step was to register yourself at the covid desk. They check all your documents. You inform them additionally about the car details picking you up, give your phone number.
- What next
So we had availed for exemption from institutional quarantine special provision for parents under 10years of age. Hence we could go home but we had to report ourselves at the hotel which would have been our designated institutional quarantine. There they literally stamped our hands saying we were approved home quarantine. We had to submit passport xerox copies and an undertaking that we will send them a COVID RT PCR test after seven days of our arrival in India. We have taken the test and are negative (Phew!).
So now we have seven more days of quarantine and then keeping ourselves safe for the rest of our visit in India.