Missing your Parents? - Tips on how to travel to India
As International borders are opening up, and as I was missing my parents like many, this mid-term break in October, I took the plunge for my first trip to India in 2 years with my children. I have traveled umpteen times but this time it felt different. I was a bit anxious at first due to the covid protocols and about safety. So many of my friends have asked me about my experience of the journey so I am sharing my experience of my journey during the covid times hoping to help them and maybe a few others who are planning their trips but are hesitant.
The good news is that travel is not that difficult but one has to be very organized and very patient.
So here are my tips for traveling to India - my experience traveling to New Delhi and back to Dubai as a U.A.E Resident.
Before traveling Dubai to New Delhi, the paperwork is as follows:
1. PCR test is to be taken 72 hrs in advance of your flight time. There are many hospitals and drive-thrus that conduct the test for travel. I would recommend the drive-thru at Festival Plaza for those who live near that area. Usually, the result comes out in 6-8 hrs. For instance, we took the test around 4.45 p.m. on a Wednesday and my flight was at 9.50 a.m on the Friday of that week. We had our results by Wednesday night.
2. Fill up the self-declaration form on the Air Suvidha portal as below. This you can do the day before you fly. Make sure you have your ticket, seat no. on the flight (since you would have checked in a day before the flight), and passport with you while filling up the form. Please download your PCR test report and vaccination certificate on your computer and name it without any spaces or special characters.
The form is very clear and simple to fill up. You will get a confirmation email of the same after you have completed it. Make sure to print out the form and email.
3. Eligible U.A.E Residents must fill up a GDRA return permit request form. This is valid for 1 month from the time you submit your request. We submitted this 4 days before we traveled since we were traveling only for a week so that there are no issues later. We got the permit in a few seconds of submission online. You must fill up the form of 2 sheets manually with it and attach it to the Return permit. Take printouts of these too.
4. Book your RT PCR Test slot at Delhi Airport in advance. My flight landed at 2.45 p.m and I had booked a 3-4 p.m slot . Take out the printout of the confirmation email of your appointment and also the bar code that is attached to the email. This is very important.
5. Check-in 3 hours before your flight. Please see the self-declaration form and PCR Test report are handy while you are doing your baggage drop or checking in.
6. There is a queue at the airport these days. The check-in took time, but the immigration and security check was a few minutes.
7. Take a breather at the airport if you have time. We only had half an hour. Please eat and rest for a bit.
8. Wear your mask throughout your journey and carry a hand sanitizer since you may not find many at the airport. We doubled masked at the airports and the flight.
At Delhi Aiport - Arrival
As you land, make sure you have your boarding pass and self-declaration form handy.
As you exit your flight, you will be asked to show the self-declaration form at the end of the bridge itself and after a few steps, your boarding pass will be stamped.
Next, have the confirmation email of your RT PCR Appointment with your bar code handy. The first counter you will pass is for the passengers who haven't booked their appointments online. Pass that and go to the counter and tell them that you have your online booking and bar code. Make sure you mention this. They will scan the bar code that you have printed and place the sticker of the code on your paper. Show this to the person taking your test which is beside this counter.
Take your test and the paper on which the sticker was placed is stamped. Proceed to immigration. For immigration, keep your passport and boarding pass handy.
After immigration, collect your luggage which is delivered fairly fast, since there were no other flights landing the airport was empty.
There was a queue to get out of the airport since the baggage is checked again.
Exit the airport. It took us 40 minutes from the aircraft to exit.
The result of the PCR Test came out by night around 10 p.m.
Departure from New Delhi to Dubai
Please make sure you have the GDFRA Return permit and the manually filled forms that are with it.
Take an RT PCR test in Delhi 48 hrs before you travel, from a verified lab for UAE travel. The report must have a QR Code. The validity of the report is from the time when the sample is collected. Please calculate this very carefully and carry a printout of the report. Please see the verified laboratories list below:
For Instance,I was travelling back on a Friday, 4.15 pm flight to Dubai, and I took my RT PCR Test on Thursday morning around 8.30 a.m and I got my report at 9 p.m at night.
3. Book your online slot for the RAPID PCR at Delhi airport before departure. I had booked an 11-12 p.m slot. Please do this prior to departure since the line for cash payments at the PCR Test facility at the airport can add an extra 30 minutes or so.
4. Check in online if you can before departure. Reach the airport at least 5 hours before departure time. You will have to take your car to the parking of the Delhi airport where the testing facility is located. Which is at the metro bridge, level 2.
5. Park your car at the Airport Multi-Level Car Park but do not take out your luggage. Go to level 2 via the elevators. You will see the metro bridge. Walk on the left-hand side of the bridge and go straight till you see this board as below since the testing booths for flights to Canada are on the right-hand side of the bridge:
6. Walk around this and you will see rows of tables for the PCR test registration. You will be asked about your flight and the time of departure.
7. They asked for the appointment confirmation booking and will scan the bar code on your email as printed. A sticker of the bar code was placed on the paper and we were asked to proceed to the red booths behind the registration tables to do our test.
8. The paper with the scanned bar code was stamped on finishing the test and were told the result would come out within an hour at departure gates 5,6 or 7.
9. Then proceed to the departure gate with your luggage which is a minute's ride. Don't forget to pay the parking fees at the Car park.
10. Have your ticket, passport, and the stamped RAPID TEST paper, handy at the airport gate. There are many seats at the airport and you can have a coffee or a snack at COSTA behind ROW P. Check the time that is written on the stamp and accordingly proceed behind ROW P at the airport where the result is being printed and handed out. It was ready within 45 minutes. An email is also sent to you of the report.
11. Proceed for check-in. Keep the GDFRA form, 48hr RTPCR Test Report, and the RAPID Test Report handy. It did not take much time, maybe because the flight was not at full capacity.
12. Immigration took us 5 minutes and so did the security check.
13. We had 1 hour before boarding. If you don't want to shop you can relax at The Plaza Premium Lounge B, Level 4, near the Holiday Inn Hotel. All the other lounges are closed. The food court was open.
14. At the Boarding gate, they checked our passports and the RAPID PCR Test report.
15. Wear a double mask at the airport and while flying and have your hand sanitizer handy.
At Dubai Airport - Arrival :
As you land, have your Passport, Boarding pass, and Emirates ID handy for the covid test .
There is airport personnel to guide you to the testing booths by Pure Health.
Your passport will be scanned and you will be asked for your Emirates ID, Boarding pass, and contact number where an SMS will be sent of your result.
Proceed to Immigration and then baggage collection which was very smooth and efficient.
The result of the covid test was delivered as an SMS within 3 HRS of taking it.
Have a safe and smooth journey if you are planning to travel. This is the new norm. The key is to be organized with all the paperwork and prior bookings taken in advance. Have folders for each leg of the journey and keep your boarding pass safely now as you travel. Check for your travel updates frequently as these may change. If you are traveling by Emirates, make sure to check their travel requirements page that has all the relevant information. They send you emails before you travel too for reminders.
Also note, there may be further changes and this travel journey was on 22nd October 2021.
If you have any queries, please don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org , or my Twitter handle @info_rolling