Find out why this passenger shelled out a premium for seat 1F

Deccan Chronicle.  | Vikram Sharma

Nation, Current Affairs

In the post-corona era, travellers are weighing multiple factors for a safe journey

An airport staffer checks a passenger's e-ticket on a mobile phone from inside a booth at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport as domestic flights resumed in Ahmedabad. Domestic flights resumed in India on May 25 even as coronavirus cases surge while confusion about quarantine rules prompted jitters among passengers and the cancellation of dozens of planes. (AFP)

Hyderabad: The moment flight bookings opened on May 21, M Subba Rao, a construction manager in a Delhi-based company, was among the first few to book his air ticket to Hyderabad on an Indigo flight (6E 765), which was scheduled to depart at 5.10 a.m. May 25. His plan was to first travel to Hyderabad, pick up his wife and two kids and proceed to Bengaluru. 

But when he learnt that he would have to undergo a total of 14 days in quarantine -- seven days home quarantine in Hyderabad and equal number of days in Bengaluru -- he cancelled the ticket as getting leave from work for that many days was no easy task.

He then tried to hire a cab but when he was asked to shell out Rs 35-40k for the drop to Hyderabad, he gave up the idea. Train was his last option but such was the scare of the coronavirus, that he could not convince himself to get on board.

With all three modes of transport throwing up one challenge or the other, Subba Rao continues to be where he is -- New Delhi.

''I moved to Delhi in November last year while my wife, an engineer, works in a private firm in Bengaluru. Since we had to attend a function in Hyderabad, where my in-laws stay, I went to Bengaluru, took the family members along to Hyderabad on March 12. The next day, we attended the function and I left for Baroda on March 15 in connection with office work,'' Subba Rao told Deccan Chronicle over telephone from Delhi.

Due to the lockdown, his family got stuck in Hyderabad ever since and his wife Shanti had to report to work at the earliest.

''I booked my flight ticket to Hyderabad minutes after the fight bookings opened on May 21. Though I was scared, it was still manageable as it was only a two hour flight. Twp days later, I was told that seven-day home quarantine is mandatory for people arriving in Hyderabad from Delhi (actually, in Hyderabad it is 14-day home quarantine but many had no clarity). Since I had to take my family along to Bengaluru where another one week quarantine is a must, it was difficult to get leaves for these many days,'' says Subba Rao. 

Originally hailing from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, Subba Rao says that though he wanted to book a train ticket (train services start June 1), he was not able to convince himself. ''I was about to book AC first class ticket but i backed out as I was scared. The train journey would take 24 hours and chances of getting infected in train is very high. I mentally prepared myself for the road journey but it was a very expensive affair,'' he said.

Asked what does he intend to do now, Subba Rao says that he has no option but to wait and watch. ''Its been two months since I have seen my family.  This morning, I spoke to my daughter, Sruthi (class four student) and told her to come and visit me in Delhi as there is no mandatory quarantine here. I gave her the example of the five year old who traveled alone from Delhi to Bengaluru to be with his parents. But she was scared and told me there are too many coronavirus positive cases in Delhi.''

Subba Rao was so apprehensive about the air travel that at the time of booking ticket, he shelled out an extra Rs 750 for seat 1F, just to ensure that he would be at a safe distance from other passengers in the aircraft and would be the first one to get in and get out of it.