Vande Bharat Mission Flights – All you need to know
This space will give you all the details that you need to know about the Air India flights operating on Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) from the United States to India. My husband recently traveled back from Dallas, Texas (United States of America) to Mumbai (India). When we were going to book the flights we found all information in bits & pieces everywhere. So we thought to pen down our experience of VBM giving out all the necessary & minute details about his travel.
In this blog, you will find all the details about Booking the Flight, Domestic travel in the US, Documents required, Quarantine span, list of Hotels for Quarantine, etc. I have attached all the links wherever possible. Still, if you have any queries you can certainly mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or just leave a comment below and we will certainly get back to you & help in each & every possible manner.
My husband was on a B1/B2 visa for almost 4 months now. He went there for business purpose. He was about to return in the first week of July but due to the current pandemic, his flights got canceled. So we were constantly looking out for VBM flights so that he can return back to home. We were searching extensively but could not find any details stated in a very apt way. So we are writing this article down to help a layman understand all the norms in an easy manner. This is our personal experience & we are trying to just help the people who need all details. However, certain facts may differ from person to person.
Pre Booking Details
Booking with VBM Repatriation flight:
Firstly, you need to register yourself for Vande Bharat Repatriation Flight over here. In this registration, you need to sign an undertaking giving out all your personal details. Some details ask you to mention the status of your COVID Test. However, the COVID test is not mandatory, so in the drop-down, you can select No if you have not taken the test. The next box you will find is of which test you have taken, even if you have selected no as an answer still somehow this box is compulsory to be filled so just select the option Rapid Antibody. Fill all your required details & read all the things carefully. Take this page screenshot & save in PDF for your reference. Next, submit the form. Over here, you will get your registration number which shall be used at the time of making the bookings, so save this number.
Booking with Embassy of India:
Now, the next step is to file with the embassy of India over here. The purpose of this form is only to collect relevant information for planning purposes by the Government of India. The Embassy/Consulate will inform you about the commencement of flights from the US to India. Incomplete forms will not be considered so make sure to enter all your details correctly. Once you fill this form take a screenshot & save the PDF. After the successful submission of the form, you will receive an email from the embassy for thanking you for registration. You can find this email in your junk. There won’t be any more details, it is just a simple acknowledgment mail. You have to carry this printout along with your filed form with you when you travel.
The Bookings for Vande Bharat Mission Flights
The next step is to regularly check on Air India’s website about the details of VBM evacuation flights. The flights get sold out pretty much quickly. So make sure you do the bookings fast. You may or may not receive the mail about the availability, so I would highly recommend you keep checking about the availability of the tickets on Air India’s website. We did not receive any mail or communication. We had seen earlier & all the dates showed us as sold out. But on 13th July morning, we checked & saw that flight booking was available for the 16th of July. We dint wish to miss out on this chance & hence even in such short notice we booked our flights for him. This can certainly become too quick but make sure that you are ready to fly anytime is what I can say. The flight that we booked was from New York (Newark – EWR) to Mumbai (BOM) scheduled at 12.05hrs. The cost of this flight is $1000.
Domestic booking needs to be made separately. You have to reach the airport before 5hours for a smooth check-in.
Domestic Travel within the United States
We booked our flights through United Airlines. We booked for 15th July scheduled at 12.35 hrs in order to reach early at Newark. It is better to book the flight which reaches early to avoid any last-minute delay, or any flight cancellation, etc. You always have a spare option in case of any difficulties if you book an early flight. The process of check-in was quite simple. We had extra luggage i.e. 32kgs each bag so we were charged $100 extra for each bag above 23kgs up to 32kgs. Would recommend reaching before 3hrs. Domestic airways are operating in the same old manner. But social distancing is maintained in the flight, on each side, there is only one passenger seated. Wearing masks throughout the travel is mandatory.
Mandatory Quarantine for 7-days in your home city
So once you have booked your flights, remember, 7 days quarantine in any government facility or government-affiliated units is mandatory once you land in India. Before boarding on the flight you have to book your hotels & show them at the airport in the US. You can choose the option to be quarantined in the city where you land. Or you can directly book your cab or taxi to the place where you reside & choose an option to be quarantined there. For example, if you are staying at Pune & you land at Mumbai you can either choose the 7-day quarantine in Mumbai or at Pune. For traveling to your city, the expenses have to be borne by you. When you book a cab or taxi you need to have an E-Pass so that you can travel back to your city.
One can opt for home quarantine only & only if they have a strong & valid reason to be at home. At the airport in India, there will be a separate queue for home quarantine. But unless and until you don’t have a strong & valid reason pls. don’t waste your time in that queue. Strong reasons on which they allow home quarantine are if you are pregnant, senior citizens with health issues, death of a close family member, health issues of the person staying at home & you need to take care of them (but you need to have updated reports of them), if you are suffering from any health concerns, etc. But as I said earlier don’t waste your time in the home quarantine queue if you do not have any such reasons instead, directly head towards your hotel line.
Quarantine in Mumbai:
We have with us the list of quarantine facilities available in Mumbai with contact details. You can mail us (email@example.com) or comment below if you need the list of Mumbai. The prices of these facilities range from INR 2500-4000 per day for single occupancy. There are many 5-star hotels like the JW Marriott, Taj, Hyatt, Lalit, etc. & even 3-star to 4-star hotels like Tunga, Vits, etc. The rates are inclusive of all Taxes & Three meals (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner). My husband stayed at JW Marriott at Sahar, I have written about his experience below so checkout. We would highly recommend staying at JW Marriott.
Things to Carry
You need to be well aware of all the things that you need to carry with you. We have prepared a checklist below so you cannot miss out on anything.
- Flight Tickets
- VBM Registration number & saved PDF as stated above
- Embassy Registration acknowledgment & saved form as stated above.
- Your hotel booking details & confirmation voucher.
- Download Arogya Setu App
- Disinfectant wipes
- A Pen
Apart from this, the luggage allowed is 2 checked-in bags of 23kgs each. One handbag of 7kg & you can carry your laptop bag or your purse apart from this. The rate for an additional bag is $190 and for excessive baggage is $130 up to 32kg.
Although they provide food in Flight but would highly recommend carrying your own food. As the meals that they provide are packed foods & given to you at the start of the flight, so by the time you eat, it doesn’t feel fresh at all.
Boarding on Vande Bharat Mission Flight
Below I will state all the details with picture representation so you don’t miss out on anything. Remember this is the most important day as you will finally reach your home. So carry all the documents properly & stay protected always. Wear your masks on all the time, sanitize your hands every now & then & make sure to disinfect all the surface where you are ought to touch like the trolly, your seats, etc.
At the Airport in the United States:
- Reach the airport before 5 hrs. Even when you reach so early there is a long queue for check-in.
- You have to wait in the queue following the Social Distancing norms.
- You will be handed over the undertaking form over here which you had earlier filed over the web with the Embassy of India. Many of them state it is not mandatory to file over the web as they give us the same forms, but it is better to carry one rather than panicking at the airport. Have attached the form for your reference.
- Next, you will be headed over for the temperature check. The temperature would be measured & they write it down for their records.
- Further, there will be a counter where all your documents along with your passport are checked. And they will put a stamp on cover of your passport stating ‘A Super Value’. We are also unsure of what exactly this stamp is for.
- Next comes the queue to check-in your bags. At this place, only one person is attended at a time, following all the social distancing norms. You can ask for your extra baggage over here & pay either in cash or card.
- Complete your security check & finally, its time to sit back & relax until they call out to board the flight.
- There are many duty-free shops that are open at EWR airport. So in case, you wish to buy any goodies for your home country you can certainly buy it from here at reasonable rates.
Boarding the Vande Bharat Mission Flight:
- There is a scan check that happens before you stand for the boarding queue.
- Boarding is done in a normal manner, starting from business class to economy class. There was a bit chaos here, as they started calling out seat wise but nobody cared to listen & nobody did bother to align.
- Once you enter the flight, two meals are already kept in your seats along with a packed mask, shield mask & sanitizer. Few snack packets & one bottle of mineral water is also kept. However, when my husband boarded only a few seats had all these things placed. They later gave out everything individually before starting the flight.
- The meals on the flight are not that great. So better to carry your own meals.
- Always put on your masks while you are in flight. Even if it is not instructed, it is always advisable to wear a face mask & shield mask for your own safety. The quality of the masks is also not that great so it would be better if you can carry your own masks & sanitizer.
- After the take-off, the staff is also nowhere seen & you have to be all by yourself. So pls make sure you have enough water & all the necessary things that you need before the flight departs.
- It is a Direct flight so in 14hours you will land in India.
Landing In India via Vande Bharat Mission Flights
- Once your flight is landed, it is mandatory to have Arogya Setu App installed on your phones. If not already installed then you can download it at this moment. Feed all the required information in the App. The staff will help you if you do not understand anything.
- Next after coming out, head towards the immigration department & get your passport stamped.
- Later, you can pick up your luggage. Duty-free shops are even open at Mumbai Airports.
- Then there will be a queue for home quarantine & other quarantine facilities.
- The staff over there will ask if you already have your hotels booked & they arrange bus services to drop you at your hotels.
- If you have already booked a cab for your city then show them the E Pass & you can move ahead.
- For all those who have connecting flights can share their details at this counter.
- If your hotels are booked they will take the details, & give you a call once your bus has arrived.
- All this will take approx 2-3 hours so be patient.
- Then there are government BEST buses that will drop you at your respective hotels. Social distancing is maintained in the buses also. You have to take your luggage by yourself & enter the bus. They charge you INR 100.
- So, reach your destination safely. We had booked JW Marriott at Sahar & have explained our experience below.
JW Marriott – Sahar for Quarantine
Bookings & norms:
- Booking is to be done over a call giving them all the required information.
- Payment is to be made by going there in person at the time of check-in. There is no requirement for advance payment also. They give you the confirmation voucher once you book over a call. If a person who is coming back to India has any cards with him/her, they can make the payment at the time of check-in.
- Once you enter the room, then you cannot go out for any reason. You are in complete quarantine for 7 days.
- COVID test is done after completion of 5th day. And on the 7th day before 12 pm, you can check out at any time.
- The rooms are really good & spacious. They have all the amenities placed for you beforehand only.
- We really loved the rooms. It had two queen-sized beds & a bathtub to relax. Mineral water is placed in the room itself. All toiletries are also placed & if needed more you can just give them a call & they ll provide you.
- Three meals are provided every day (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner). They have a curated menu for each day which they send you a day in advance along with your dinner. The meal boxes comprise of Roti, Sabji, Dal, Rice & a Dessert. If you do not like anything then you can surely order from A La carte at your own expense. The food quality is good & each day different types of meals are served. Breakfast is the highlight of each meal. Coffee & Tea sachets are already kept in the room along with hot water kettle.
- I would personally like to suggest that they start giving Immunity Booster drink i.e. Kadha as suggested by Aayush Matralay (also stated in Arogya Setu App) to all of them staying at the hotel.
- My husband, however, asked for the ingredients like ginger, turmeric, lemons, pepper, etc. & they happily provided all & he himself makes the Kadha & drinks it twice a day. It is a great immunity booster & all should have it on a daily basis.
- Today is the fifth day of my husband staying there & we have not faced any issues till now.
- Praying that he comes home safe & sound.
Overall Experience on Vande Bharat Mission
Our overall experience has been quite good. Will surely update the complete details once he is back home. But we felt that publishing this post at this moment is very necessary as many of them are facing troubles like us. So have taken down small effort to explain everything in minute details hoping it will help somebody. We would majorly like to thank one of our family friends who helped us through this whole booking thing & also to some of our Facebook communities.
This Blog is not sponsored however it just holds our experience on Vande Bharat Mission – actually feels like a mission to travel from the United States to India in these COVID times.
We are a couple who have taken up blogging recently so if you are new over here pls. take time & visit our blog for the Best experiences in Mumbai, Best restaurants in town & even some homemade yummy delicacies and of course our best tips on travel once we are out of this pandemic.