Hi, I am Saptadeep. I recently travelled from Delhi to Kolkata with the very first flight that landed to Kolkata since the beginning of government-imposed lock-down due to COVID-19. Domestic air travel resumed from 25th May after being suspended for more than two months, although first flight to Kolkata landed on 28th May. SpiceJet flight SG-263 was one of the first flight that landed to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata and I was one of the passengers onboard. I noticed several changes since my last air travel, so just thought of sharing my experience with you all.
At last after several cancellation and rescheduling due to extension in travel restriction by the government, I finally got a confirmed ticket to return to my hometown back in Kolkata. The Airport Authority of India and the airlines have recommended all passengers to reach 3 hours prior to your scheduled departure. All flights are operational from T3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi. Web Check-in has become mandatory in order to reduce contact along with printing the baggage tag and fixing the tag on your checked-in luggage. Once we reach the airport you will find self-assist kiosks where we need to scan the QR code on your Web Checked-in Boarding pass. This is Where you will get your actual printed boarding pass.
After you collect your boarding pass you need to proceed towards baggage sanitization zone where all your luggage is being passed through a UV Sanitizing tunnel. Before you collect your luggage, you need to sanitize your hands and proceed towards the airport entrance. A CISF personnel who is standing behind a glass shield will verify your ID and Boarding pass and a person with a thermal gun will be measuring your body temperature. If your body temperature is well within the prescribed limit you will be allowed to enter the airport premises. Each airline has been allotted a gate like passengers travelling with a specific airline needs to enter through a specific gate, for SpiceJet it was through gate no- 1&2. After you enter the airport you need to head towards check-in counter to drop your checked-in luggage and proceed towards security checking. There were floor markings 6 feet apart to maintain social distancing in the queue. The CISF persons at security checking were having handy metal detectors with longer handles and instead of stamping the boarding pass they were scanning the QR on it followed by clicking the approve button on a LCD screen. Once you collect your luggage and boarding pass you need to proceed towards the boarding gate assigned for your flight. In my case it was 42C. While proceeding towards the boarding gate I noticed almost 50% lesser crowd at T3 with almost empty shops and food court. Floor marking were there wherever there is a chance of crowd accumulation. Passengers were allowed to sit at an interval of one seat keeping the middle seat vacant in the waiting area. Everyone including passengers, ground staff and housekeeping in the airport premises were equipped with gloves and masks.
Once boarding started, they scanned our boarding passes and handed us a safety kit consisting of mask, a facial shield and hand sanitizers along with a self-declaration form stating that you do not have any COVID-19 symptoms and you agree to co-operate with the quarantine guidelines of the arriving state. This declaration also says that you will get in touch with medical professionals if you develop any COVID-19 symptoms and false declaration is subject penal actions. Onboard cabin crew members were equipped with complete safety gears including mask, facial shield, protective suit, hair caps and shoe covers. With all the safety gears on it was quiet suffocating for all of us, thus we asked the cabin crew to adjust the AC accordingly. The cabin crew demonstrated the safety instructions and flight took off. There were no refreshment service onboard. After we landed to Kolkata, it took about 1 hour in the baggage claim maybe due sanitization process of all the baggage. Before exiting the airport, we were once again thermal screened and duly filed and signed self-declaration form was submitted. Even every taxi in the prepaid taxi stand were being sanitized regularly. At last I would like to thank SpiceJet for this amazing flight experience even in these difficult situation. I felt very safe during my journey as all safety precautions were ensured.