Tuesday 16 June 2020 2:59 AM UTC
LONDON June 16: The Malayalees Stranded in UK Whatsapp group, which has been providing advisory guidance to those who are either booked to travel or looking to travel by one of the repatriation flights departing on June 18, 24 and 30, has come out with an advisory guidance. The FAQ was prepared by Dr. Ajay Poonath and Anoop Sasidharan. This is only as a reference point but please note that some of these rules are changing over time.
For the last three weeks the Malayalees Stranded in UK Whatsapp group has been trying to bring to the notice of the government that there are a lot of people trying to get back to Kerala as well as explore the possibility of chartered flights as well.
Many helped the group in their journey and finally three Vande Bharath Mission flights were announced for June 18th, 24th and 30th. On a question on what made them put together this Questions and Answers Sanjay said: “There was a mad scramble on the day of the flight and many people from the group helped others get their tickets and finally we created 3 sub groups. As we can understand we had a lot of questions from the people and based on the information access we had we created this FAQ. Please consider this only as a reference point but please note that some of these rules are changing over time”.
The FAQ was prepared by Dr Ajay Poonath and Anoop Sasidharan. I would also like to spend a minute to appreciate many people in the group who has dedicated their time for others to get tickets or offered help to the Admins. Dr Ajay, Girish, Sajida Mahroof, Tejas Vijayan, Aditya Verma, Unni, Deepa, Ashiq Mohammed, Balagopal (www.ukmalayalee.com), Fawas , Kavi etc. I have been privileged to come across some outstanding people who has been selfless in helping others and Humanity needs this now.
BEFORE AND DURING THE FLIGHT
1. When should I arrive at the airport?
AI has advised that all passengers arrive 4 hours prior to departure.
2. What is the baggage allowance?
Check- in : First & Business class — 2 pieces each weighing up to 32Kg
Economy — 2 pieces each weighing up to 23Kg
Carry on (hand luggage): 1-piece up to maximum of 8 kg (INCLUSIVE OF LAPTOP BAG & LADIES HANDBAG)
Infants : 1 piece weighing up to Max 10 kgs
3. What terminal should I come to?
Terminal 2 at London HEATHROW
4. Will I be able to avail of wheelchair facility?
If a wheelchair/ any other special assistance is required, it should be first communicated to air India via the Manage my booking link on the website. We have been reliably informed that, although it is subject to availability, you will almost certainly get a wheelchair, if mentioned as a part of the booking.
5. What documents do I need to carry?
-Indian Passport/ OCI Card with evidence that you fall under the specified criteria to travel on VBM. -Print out of Undertaking certificate (http://www.airindia.in/USA-CANADA-UNDERTAKING.htm), which is available on the Air India website -If the passenger does not hold the credit / debit card used for payment of the ticket, they should carry a photocopy of both sides of the card ( CVV TO BE CROSSED OUT) which has been self-attested by the card holder, authorizing the use of the card for purchase of the ticket.
This should also contain the names of the passengers and itinerary details for which the booking is made (PNR, e-ticket number, origin, destination, flight number etc.)
6. What are the health checks before the flight?
All passengers will undergo compulsory thermal screening (temperature check) which will be noted before departure. Air India reserves the right to restrict anybody having a high temperature from boarding the flight.
7. What are the protective measures provided?
Air India provides Face mask and a Face shield. They do not provide gloves or any other personal protective equipment (PPE). Middle seat passengers will be provided with an extra gown. Hand sanitisers may be brought by the passengers in accordance with the rules pertaining to on-board carriage of liquids. Other protective equipment should be brought as per personal requirement
8. What are the provisions in terms of food and drinks on the aircrafts?
Air India will provide snack foods like sandwiches, biscuits, fruits, energy bars, juice etc. They will not be providing full meals as is usual on International flights. Water will be available as per demand. Since it is a long journey, it is advisable to carry extra refreshments as per your personal requirement (for example diabetic patients, children etc.)
9. Can anyone accompany the passenger to the check in counter at the airport?
Heathrow airport is enforcing a strict rule against anybody accompanying the passenger. In special cases, for example elderly above the age of 80, one person may be allowed to accompany them. Such cases are advised to reach the airport well in advance.
10. Do I need to register with any other portal before embarking?
It has been advised that passengers need to register themselves with the COVID-19 Jagratha (covid19jagratha.kerala.nic.in) portal and will also be asked to download the Arogya Sethu App as a part of the travel.
11. What are the fees for excess baggage?
Beyond the allotted allowance for check in baggage, a sum of 144 GBP should be paid for an extra bag weighing up to 23kg. if the extra bag weighs up to 32kgs a sum of 222 GBP will have to be paid.
Only 1 piece of hand luggage is allowed, for an additional piece GBP 140 was quoted at the airport.
AFTER THE FLIGHT
1. What health procedures will I be subject to?
All passengers will be subject to thermal screening again and if abnormal, institutional quarantine/ hospital admission will be enforced.
2. What are the current quarantine rules in Kerala?
The guidelines as of 15th June 2020 are
· Asymptomatic passenger may undergo Home (room with attached bathroom) quarantine for a mandatory period of 14 days.
· Those who have people above the age of 70 years at home can only undergo home quarantine if the house has more that one floor and the passengers are restricted to one floor and the elderly to the ground floor. If the house has only one floor the local health authorities (DISHA/Primary Health Centre) should be informed and alternative arrangements will be advised by them.
· For those opting for paid quarantine facilities, each district has released a set of hotels offering this facility. Kindly contact the appropriate hotel and make necessary arrangements prior to travel. Following 7 days of paid quarantine, if the passenger is asymptomatic, they will be allowed to shift to their house and complete the remaining seven days of quarantine at their home (room quarantine)
· Passengers will be tested for COVID only if they develop relevant symptoms (fever, cough, body ache etc during the period of quarantine). Development of such symptoms should be immediately alerted to the local health authorities.
3. What are the transport options available from Cochin Airport?
Passengers are strictly prohibited from using any mode of public transportation(flights, buses, trains, autorickshaws) for 14 days after entry in to the country.
The following options may be availed of from Cochin Airport.
· It is being advised that airport taxis booked after arrival is the best option.
· In any vehicle social distancing with the driver must be strictly followed.
· Personal vehicles are permitted entry in cochin airport for the purpose of picking up passengers.
However, any person (including driver) who accompanies the passenger to their respective quarantine facility should, first inform the local authorities and after dropping the passenger must undergo strict home quarantine for 14 days.
A maximum of only 2 people (including driver) are permitted to accompany the passenger. Social distancing norms are to be followed in this scenario as well.
· The driver of privately owned/ arranged vehicles NEED NOT quarantine themselves if, they merely drive the car TO the airport and leave it so that the passenger may drive themselves back to their respective quarantine facility i.e the driver avoids any contact with the passenger. In such a scenario the vehicle driven by the passenger needs to be thoroughly sanitized following arrival at the quarantine facility.
· Although there where buses arranged by the state government for the purpose of transporting passengers to their respective districts previously, we have not received confirmation that these operations are still on going. We have sought clarity regarding the same and shall update you as soon as we have further information.
· Regarding the query about whether passengers from different households in the same district are allowed to share cabs from the airport, the officials have informed us that this will be decided on a day to day basis by the team of health authorities present at the airport.
1) All the information that is mentioned above has been confirmed with the most reliable authorities, however it is important to note that under the current circumstances, everything is subject to change. We shall try to update any important changes as and when they are confirmed.
2) We understand that there will be apprehensions regarding sending elderly relatives on these flights. We assure you that we will make all efforts to help anyone in need.
3) Although it may seem inconvenient at times, the responsibility of following all the advised guidelines falls on us, as international passengers. The health and well being of our families and our communities depends on it.
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