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‘Worst day of my life’: Travellers speak up about long delays at New Delhi airport

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Many Australian travellers flying into India are reporting ‘long delays and chaos’ at the New Delhi International airport, which has recently adopted new quarantine procedures in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. Passengers have expressed serious health concerns about waiting in the packed arrival hall with no chance of maintaining a physical distance with other international passengers.

India’s Vande Bharat Mission and many private charter flights have been continually bringing thousands of passengers to the New Delhi airport.

But new measures adopted by the ground authorities for these travellers are being criticised by some families, who have spoken to SBS Punjabi about the “chaos” at the Indian capital’s international airport terminal. 

Coronavirus alert signage at New Delhi International airport in view of the Coronavirus outbreak.
COVID-19 alert signage at New Delhi International airport in view of the Coronavirus outbreak.
AAP

Mandeep Singh Hundal who frequently travels between Perth and his hometown in Punjab, says his recent arrival at New Delhi on 23 July turned out to be a ‘nightmare’.

“It was worst day of my life. I never had that much anxiety and anger in my life. We were forced to wait at least 10-12 hrs in a big hall packed with over 1,000 passengers from different parts of the globe,” he said.

Mr Hundal said the passengers travelling from Perth had a common health concern.

“We have no active cases in Perth, but we were made to wait in a hall that was jampacked with people, who could well be arriving from COVID-19 hotspots around the world,” he said.

I felt like it was a massive incubator for virus transmission, with no chance of practising physical isolation. People desperately needed drinking water but there was none.

Mr Hundal claims that elderly passengers and families travelling with children were also not given any priority.

“It was all chaotic. Some elderly people and children had no option other than to rest-up on luggage conveyor belts.” 

Passengers at the Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi, India, 12 March 2020.
Photo used for representation purpose only: Passengers at the Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi, India.
AAP

An elderly passenger who also travelled from Perth to New Delhi says he wouldn’t recommend travelling under these conditions to others in his age group.

“Please don’t do it. But if you have no other choice, be prepared for the worst! Bring your medicine, plenty of water and food, as you may have to face long delays at the airport.”

But a passenger who arrived in New Delhi from the Canadian city of Toronto thinks otherwise.

She has told SBS Punjabi that she did not face any issues while travelling through the New Delhi Airport.

“I think it all depends upon how many flights arrive on a given day. There are times when there is only one flight and I guess that makes it easier for a timely exit from the terminal. We were lucky that it only took us 2-3hrs to come outside the airport,” she said.

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Click this link to read the latest COVID-19 travel updates by the New Delhi airport.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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