15 Common Mistakes to Avoid getting stranded at the Indian Airports
You have been planning for a trip since long, bookings have been confirmed, clothes purchased to look your best, luggage is all packed, Facebook check-in has been updated and you head to the airport to find out that you have been denied boarding! Now that will be a very embarrassing and an agonizing experience.
The reasons for denial at the Indian Airports can be numerous but in most of the cases simple oversight of mandatory conditions to leave the country or enter the final destination can lead to a horrific and a costly experience. I have jotted down some of the reasons for which precautions should be taken to ensure there is no spoiler for a memorable vacation.
FOR RESIDENT INDIANS
1. OK to Board
Vacationers to the Middle East may be outraged to find out that they have been denied boarding because they failed to obtain an OK to Board clearance from the airline.
Fake E-Visas have been used in the past to enter the Middle East only for passengers to be later deported. The cost of deportation is borne by the airline and hence airlines have made it mandatory to get the visa verified prior to departure.
Request your visa issuing authority to forward the visa to the airline for an OK to Board clearance. There is a small fee that is charged for it.
2. Emigration Check Required (ECR)
Passports in India state whether an emigration check is required before you are allowed to leave the country. Till 2007, no mention on the passport meant ECR was mandatory and the POE had to endorse the passport before travel whereas after 2007, no mention implies that ECR is not required. An unnecessary complication has spoiled travel plans for a number of tourists in the past.
Study your passport and look for any mention of an ECR. In case it is required, visit the protector of emigration and get the condition deleted on your passport by presenting the mandated documents
3. Marriage Blues
You applied for a visa declaring your new marital status or mentioned the new surname in your airline ticket and failed to get your passport updated; a common occurrence that can spoil your trip. There have been articles on women passengers having mention of their spouse name on the visa, while it is absent in the passport.
Get your passport updated, it is the best long term solution; nonetheless you can always carry the proof of your marriage and present it to the immigration officer on request
4. Vaccination Certificate
Visiting a country infected with yellow fever or polio, be prepared as you will be expected to have your vaccination certificate in order to be allowed to board the flight.
Go through the directives issued by the bureau of immigration or the ministry of health and family welfare to understand the procedure for obtaining the certificate of vaccination for foreign travel. It is in the best interest of the health and safety of the passengers only.
5. Schengen Visa
Schengen Visa allows access to 26 countries; however visitor information explicitly states that the visa should be applied only from the country of your first arrival or where you plan to spend most of your time. The rule is often ignored by travellers, but there have been instances where airlines like Lufthansa have refused boarding citing this requirement.
Your itinerary needs to prove you are travelling to the country from where your visa was issued. Have some documentary proof to substantiate your claim.
6. Visa on Arrival
Have you read an intriguing article on destinations outside of India, where visa is not required and booked your tickets? You may be in for some rude shock when asked to produce certain accompanying documents which you were not aware of. Visa on arrivals are very convenient, however every country has certain conditions which need to be fulfilled to be eligible for VOA.
Read the conditions for visa on arrival very carefully. Online articles can be contradictory at times and should be verified from the embassy.
7. Permission from the Indian Courts
In an unlikely scenario, if there are criminal charges pending against you in any court in India and you plan to travel without the requisite permission, the immigration officer can deny you exit from the country and can also trouble you with some further interrogation
Always report your plan to travel outside of India to the court where the matter is pending and take the necessary permission.
8. Air-Side Transit Visa
Transit Visa is required in case you plan to visit the country which is not your final destination and where you have a flight connection, however England insists on an airside transit visa even if you do not intend to leave the airport, Australia requires a transit visa if you stay at the airport for more than 8 hours. You can be refused a boarding pass if you do not have the transit visas despite your intention of not visiting those countries.
For all connecting flights, check the rules of transit since every country has its own conditions which a traveller is supposed to know.
9. Intent to Return Back
Immigration officials have of late become very strict on ensuring that you intend to return back to India after your foreign trip. Any indication that may prove otherwise can put your travel plans in jeopardy
Carry proof of financial means; return flight ticket, hotel reservations and any other documentary evidence that justifies your intent
10. Overbooked Flights
Airlines tend to overbook flights in the anticipation of a few last-minute cancellations. At times the cancellations do not happen and you can be in for some distress due to denied boarding. A very frequent reason with all airlines, you need to be prepared to slug it out at that moment
If an airline denies boarding due to overbooked flights, you have legal right to compensation up to 400% of the fare. In case you agree for an alternate flight within 24 hours, you can be compensated for an amount equivalent to 200% of the fare.
FOR TOURISTS AND NON RESIDENT INDIANS
11. E Tourist Visa
Tourists entering India need to be aware that India does not offer Visa on Arrival, instead India issues an E-visa which needs to be availed before entering the country. There have been numerous instances when tourists have landed in India only to find that they did not have an E-visa.
Indian government has an online portal to grant an E-Visa. It enlists the countries whose citizens are eligible under this initiative. Read the details on the website along with the FAQ’s to avoid last-minute glitches
12. Restricted Entry Permit
Nationals of a few countries are granted limited visas, which restrict movement, require reporting to
the nearest police station and also specify the point of entry/ exit in the country. Visitors to India on these limited visas have been subject to inconvenience for not adhering to the conditions of their entry permit.
Be aware of the conditions on which the visa is granted. You need to report to the local police station regularly and permission needs to be sought to enter any other city than permitted on the visa.
13. Out of Funds. Prepare for any eventuality
A fun-filled vacation is about to end, you exhaust your cash since you are about to head home and reach the airport only to find that your flight has been cancelled or you missed it. Such lapses of judgement can be traumatizing and you need to be prepared for it.
Always keep some emergency money to be used only in extreme conditions. A credit card with an unused credit limit and online funds always come in handy.
14. Stamp of Arrival in India
There have been reports from some airports, when the immigration officer has failed to stamp the passport on arrival into the country. Absence of an entry stamp on the passport is considered an illegal entry and can lead to problems at the time of departure.
Never leave the airport without verifying the entry stamp on your passport. In case the stamp is not present, make it a point to go back to the immigration officer and have your passport stamped.
15. Re-check passport pages
A scam reported over a few airports is of missing passport pages, which can land you in a soup on your way back home. Be very cautious while handing over your passport to anybody and recheck the pages of your passport to ensure everything is in perfect order