Chaos, Uncertainty: What I Saw at Delhi Airport on Return From UK

A passenger recounts his experience at Terminal 3 after new rules were imposed by the Delhi government.

My Report
4 min read
Rohan Subramanian writes about the chaos at Delhi Airport as passengers return from UK.

On 9 January, I landed at Terminal-3 of Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport from London via a Vistara UK flight. I experienced and witnessed the mayhem created at the terminal due to hasty decisions taken by the authorities that made a mockery out of people’s time and emotions. The mismanagement and miscommunication meted out by airport officials caused a lot of panic and unrest among passengers.

RT-PCR tests for passengers who landed from UK.
RT-PCR tests for passengers who landed from UK.
(Photo Courtesy: Rohan Subramanian)

Upon arrival, all passengers were subjected to an RT-PCR test. This was unnecessary for those like me because just 72 hours prior, I had tested negative for COVID-19. I paid Rs 3,400 in total – Rs 800 for the test and Rs 2,600 for the lounge access which includes food.

After the test, I was required to wait for 8 hours in the lounge for the result.

Though my test results came negative, my passport was withheld by the authorities without any valid explanation. We were earlier informed by the airport officials that we will be excused from institutional quarantine if our COVID test is negative.

However, in a matter of a few hours, we were told that we will have to undergo mandatory institutional quarantine regardless of the test result.

Later, the authorities gave us the option of staying free of cost at a government quarantine facility or choose from two paid hotels. I was not sure about the government institution, as I had no idea about the facilities there.

Mishaps at the Airport

As I was to exit the lounge and pass through immigration, I was asked to fill the immigration forms again, which I had already filled before boarding the flight. Though I showed them the form I had already filled out, they were skeptical.

UK passengers waiting at the Airport Lounge.
UK passengers waiting at the Airport Lounge.
(Photo Courtesy: Rohan Subramanian)

It had been 8 hours since I was waiting at the lounge. I had not eaten anything and I was very tired.

As I was coming to terms with the new rules, my duly filed forms were misplaced by the officials. I had to go through the hassle of filling them all over again despite being weary from the long journey.

Finally, after an estimated 8-9 hours of excruciating wait, passengers were divided into groups to take us to our institutional quarantine facility.

Some of the transit passengers even missed their connecting flight due to the tardy response from airport officials.

At the time of baggage collection, another shock awaited us. The luggage was all over the place and a few bags were misplaced as they were removed from the conveyor belt. I had three check-in luggages that were randomly scattered at the airport.

Institutional Quarantine

Once we came out of the airport, we boarded the bus towards our paid quarantine centre. The officials had allotted two hotels, one mid-range and another high-range, in Aerocity.

Bus allotted for UK passengers to the quarantine centre.
Bus allotted for UK passengers to the quarantine centre.
(Photo Courtesy: Rohan Subramanian)

When I arrived at the budget hotel, they informed at the last moment that the hotel was fully booked at that moment. This caught me by surprise, since the same should have been communicated to us at the airport. After all that, the passengers were forced to accommodate ourselves at the expensive hotel which costs a whopping Rs 31,360 for 7 nights.

The passengers in the bus were cornered to stay at an expensive accommodation as the officials were too lazy to take us elsewhere. When we told them that we want to stay in the economical choice, they denied the request.

We were in the bus for 4 hours with no choice left. Imagine being forced to quarantine in a hotel with exorbitant rates of lodging even after testing negative twice in 96 hours!

The sheer lack of transparency and justification in implementing such a rushed decision reduced us to being treated like cattle, all the while assuming that international passengers can afford to pay for anything and everything.

It took 3 hours for us to settle in the rooms after completing the procedures as the hotel had its own rules.

We had spent a huge amount of the money for travel and the tests. Moreover, the hotel demanded the full payment upfront. Not all of us will be able to afford such a place to stay. I request the government to provide the passengers with budget hotels for quarantine.

Even after check-in, the officials have not returned my passport. Before checking out from the hotel, I should again do a thermal checkup which will cost Rs 200. We were not told about this earlier. These hidden expenditures should have been informed to us beforehand.

A word of caution for those travelling to Delhi from the UK is that though the process looks smooth at the beginning, there is hidden expenditure that passengers must take into account. Two days later, I hope the process is a tad more systematic.

(As told to Saradha Natarajan)

(All ‘My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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