Cancellations and confusion were seen on the first day of the resumption of domestic flight operation at Bengaluru's Kempegowda International Airport, which opened for passengers after being locked down for two months because of the coronavirus pandemic. Several passengers complained that they were not told about the mandatory web check-in rule, but hundreds landed or took off.
Nine flights were cancelled on the first day, but around 60 took off from the airport and 54 arrived. There were many changes in the way the airport handles its passengers. Thermal screening was conducted and the body temperatures of those checked were displayed on big monitors. Security personnel wore headgear to protect themselves from the virus, which has killed over 4,000 people in the country. There were social distancing markings on the floor.
The airport always looks clean, but it was extra tidy today because of extra scrubbing due to the pandemic.
Two young men, who were travelling to Delhi, covered themselves from head to toe. "We are travelling on the first day because we live in a PG accommodation and the food there is terrible. We are waiting to go home," they said, adding, "Better safe than sorry".
They said they were wearing the protective covers to safeguard their families and neighbours from the virus, and that they will throw it away as soon as they reach their destination.
Two men had to alter their Goa visit plans as they didn't know that web check-in was made compulsory by the centre. They came to the airport thinking they would be allowed to do so in person.
Another man said the airline company failed to inform him. "Airlines send text messages on all stupid things. But there was no message about web check-in," he said.
Many passengers shared with NDTV their compelling reasons to take flights amid the pandemic.
"My elderly parents are alone in Odisha. I want to be with them," a man waiting for his turn to get on the plane said.
A young woman said, "I am going to meet my two-year-old daughter. I haven't seen her since March. That is why it was so important for me to travel on the first day itself."
The centre announced last Thursday that one-third of pre-lockdown domestic flights will operate from today. All international scheduled commercial passenger flights remain suspended.
Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri has indicated that international flights could begin in June.
As domestic flights resumed across India, there was confusion and chaos at airports in Delhi, Mumbai and other cities as a large number of flights were cancelled and passengers complained that they did not get any notification from the airlines.