As India allows permission to a few international carriers to operate to and from the country, stranded travellers can now book their flights, including Air India’s Vande Bharat flights, through travel portals and agents after a gap of four months.
Until recently, all flight bookings were either being done through various foreign embassies or, as in the case of Air India, directly through its booking offices and website.
Since the Ministry of Civil Aviation announced last week that it was entering into bilateral agreements with the U.S., France and Germany to allow a limited number of flights, airlines have cast their net wider and started selling tickets through multiple platforms. These include the Vande Bharat flights being operated by Air India and a few domestic airlines to bring back Indians stranded abroad.
A spokesperson of MakeMyTrip said ticket sales for Air India, Air France, Lufthansa and United went live on its website from July 18.
Air India repatriation flights to the U.S. and Europe have been available from July 18 on most travel portals including ixigo, Cleartrip and Easemytrip.com. Flights to London have been on sale from Monday. “International and Indian airlines flying limited schedules to West Asia sectors including the Emirates, Etihad, Fly Dubai Air India Express are also available to book on our platform,” a spokesperson of ixigo said.
For many complaining about Air India’s poorly equipped website, the facility comes as a welcome relief. Many portals are providing value-added services to address the concerns of the travellers.
“There are two important aspects from a customer’s stand-point. One is availability of information such as regulations at airports, inside aircraft and quarantine norms. The second aspect is providing flexibility with their travel plans because airfares are prohibitive and rescheduling and cancelling tickets is expensive,” said Cleartrip’s Global Head for the Air Business, Balu Ramachandran. Cleartrip offers two products — Travel Safe and FlexiFly — to cater to these needs, he says.
“We have ready reckoners and content repositories with details and links that will help weed out concerns given ever-evolving travel regulations over the last few months,” said the MakeMyTrip’s spokesperson.